What would it take for others to understand what you’re going through?
My career in education began 36 yrs. ago when I taught students with multiple handicaps. My training prepared me to provide appropriate instruction for them. Nothing could prepare me to completely understand the challenges they faced. Until I got multiple sclerosis (MS).
Nowadays, I feel the frustration of not being able to think clearly when I’m tired. I struggle with challenges encountered when out in public. Climbing stairs never used to be so exhausting. Greater insight brings more sympathy. Now I can empathize with my former students.
I’ve found that greater insight into mental illness (MI) helps me sympathize with our son. I often wonder what it must be like for him.
A common side effect of psychotropic medications is weight gain. So Chris chose to go off his meds. He now manages his illness himself. By limiting stressful activities. By remaining physically active.
I’m amazed at how he’s able to function without his medical treatment. He’s goal-oriented, works on computer projects, and stays active in his church. All a testimony to his determination.
It helps me to reflect on the effort he must invest to engage in routine activities.
When any of us are tired, we find it difficult to be pleasant. When we feel sick, we don’t want to interact with anyone. Reminding myself of that helps me build more tolerance. Instead of getting annoyed with his behaviors, I’m able to focus more on how he must feel. Then compassion replaces frustration. Suddenly I realize how hard Chris is trying to live a normal life. Then I know how to pray for him.
We can use the same selfless thinking to understand our spouse. What must it be like for a husband to have a child with MI? Men need to fix things. But MI seems impossible to repairable at times.
We have to assume our husband is grieving. He deals with his grief differently than a woman would. Pausing to remember that helps build compassion.
Our motherly instincts compel us to care for everyone. We identify a need and meet it. We see a problem and fix it. We’re so good at caring for others. Little time is left for us to reflect on how we’re coping. Rarely do we stop and consider our needs.
But what about me? Who understands MY needs? Does anyone care what it’s like for me?
The good news is that Christ did more than ‘walk a mile in our shoes.’ He came into our world.
Does He know what it’s like for you to have children and a husband all vying for your attention? Yes, He felt throngs clamoring for His attention.
Does He know what it’s like for you to collapse into bed at night, fully drained of all energy (physical, emotional, and mental)? He experienced physical exhaustion. He endured the pain of the cross.
Does He know what it’s like for a husband to let you down? He gave His life for the church and suffers when His bride/people deny him or refuse His unconditional love and free gift of salvation. He knows what it feels like to be betrayed by his followers, those He loved.
Christ not only knows what it’s like, He knows how you feel. He knows your every thought and sees every tear. The best part is that He has power to do something about it. To provide just what you need.
He knows what it’s like for you to have a child with MI. Let the words of Tommy Walker’s ‘He Knows my Name’ minister to you.