“Happy Easter!” I said to her. “May the joy of the Resurrection be yours!” Looking at her, I could see very little joy, though. Her flat expression, slumped posture, and listlessness revealed far more than her words ever could. For her, moments of joy are fleeting. She’s trapped in a mind that can’t turn off. When it isn’t given something to focus on, it will find something on its own and it usually isn’t something positive. Worries about the future, the present, and the what-ifs exhaust her mind and her body, keeping her frozen in indecision and fear.
And all I can do is watch helplessly.
In my mind, I know I’m doing more than just watching. I counsel. I listen. I love and I pray…a lot. I make appointments. I fill prescriptions. I buy books. I plan activities. But it doesn’t feel like enough. And the anxiety is still there. It’s become the bass line to the music of her life, and mine to a certain extent.
What I can’t do is understand why. Why is it so hard to let go of the fear? Why, in a loving, stable family does she struggle so much to feel safe? Why can’t we find a way to help her more?
I know she doesn’t want to feel this way. And I also know from my own small struggles with anxiety and depression that you can’t just choose to not be depressed or anxious. But, inside I’m screaming trying to get her to hear me in a way that will miraculously change her state from struggling to thriving. On the outside, I stay calm and upbeat because I know that if I don’t, she’ll only spiral down with me.
I’m not the only one in the world struggling to help a loved one with depression or anxiety or any host of other psychological struggles. I know I’m not. It feels like an epidemic at times. Everywhere I turn, I hear about the emotional pain that people are going through. I see family members and friends struggle to help others and to help themselves. It hurts to watch them. It hurts to be them.
I know that suffering has a purpose and that we can elevate our suffering by offering it up to alleviate the suffering of others. I’ve learned a lot about myself, about her, and about God throughout this process. Part of me thinks that if I learn “enough,” the suffering will end. But, I know it doesn’t necessarily work like that.
God has a plan. I believe that. I really do. And, He doesn’t leave us alone in our suffering. I know He’s with me and that it hurts Him to see our pain. I pray constantly for God to heal her and for God to give all of us the grace to accept and handle all that we need to. I work on trusting God and letting go of the control that I pretend I have. I work to accept His will. I lean on Him.
What I really want to know is why? Why are there so many people suffering this way? Why can’t we help them more?
Do you hurt watching someone you love who suffers emotionally? How do you deal with your hurt and with theirs?
Copyright 2016 Laura B Nelson