When someone we care about gets sick, breaks a bone or gets a diagnosis; we trip over ourselves to get them a meal, start a fundraiser, bring flowers or grab a “well wishes” card. It’s just what we do. It’s part of a working community.
But how do we handle it when it’s a mental illness that isn’t just going to go away and there is no physical signs of illness? What if they aren’t asking for help?
I’ll tell you how I handle it and I hope maybe you might try it with someone you know in some sort of fashion.
When I first started to learn to knit, I finished my first scarf in a couple of weeks. I loved that scarf, but it served a bigger purpose than keeping my own neck warm.
I have a dear friend who suffers from depression and PTSD, just like me. I haven’t walked in her shoes, but I understand the journey. She sent me a message letting me know that it was a bad day and I just felt led to do something for her.
I wrapped up a Valentine heart with that favored scarf and drove to her house. I told her I had some story telling to do before I would hand her the scarf.
I started by showing her the edging of the scarf where I began and told her this story,
“When I started this scarf, I chose my favorite colors and had a plan on how it was going to look. I sat down with my needles and cast on the exact number of knit stitches to make it as wide as I wanted to achieve how I pictured it. Day after day, I worked on this scarf. Sometimes I accidentally knit a bump that I didn’t really want there, but I kept going. Sometimes, I made a hole that I had to go back and repair, but kept on knitting. Light colors blended with dark colors and created a unique coloring that I had seen no where else. When I finally got to the end, I bound it off and folded it up with pride. I finished the project exactly as I intended and I was proud of it.”
As I unwrapped the scarf and revealed the heart of chocolates, I told her the following…Inside this project was a heart of love meant just for her.
I then placed the scarf around her neck and reminded her that her life was just like this scarf. Jesus had her planned and picked out for her uniqueness. Each beginning stitch was planned and the entire purpose was planned as it had just begun. There were bumps that had to be worked around and there were holes that needed to be repaired, but it was continued in love with the focus on the purpose. There will be light moments and there will be dark moments, but when you look at the final product it all makes sense and works together in it’s uniqueness.
After I had it wrapped around her neck and the story was completed, I told her to wear it anytime she needs a hug from me or a reminder that each stitch of her life was planned and has a purpose. We won’t be able to see that purpose always, but in the end; it will make perfect sense.
I’m not suggesting you go knit scarves for people. but I am telling you that sometimes chicken soup just won’t do. It needs to be acknowledged that this is an illness like any other, but just being there as a life line, as a voice of experience and willing ear is sometimes that is all that is needed.
Later when I suffered a crisis moment of my own, she presented me with a beautiful cross necklace reminding me who my Father is. She also included a letter. This letter made it to the hospital with me while I stayed in the psychiatric ward for stress. I pulled it out and read it many times each day and even now it sits in my wallet to remind me that I am loved and understood and perfectly made.
People with mental health issues don’t tend to ask for help. We are conditioned to believe that if you can’t see it, then it must not hurt and doesn’t need to be treated.
Will you be willing to spend more time finding out who is suffering in silence? Who needs to know that they matter? Someone who needs to know that even though their life doesn’t seem to make sense now; it has a glorious purpose?