“For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” (2 Timothy chapter 1, verse 7).
Yesterday I saw a post from the Jamaica Observer about a woman whose suicide attempt was thankfully thwarted by passersby in Half Way Tree, St. Andrew. She had attempted to hang herself from an overpass. A few days ago, there was a story of a man who jumped to his death from the third floor of a hospital. He was admitted to hospital after ingesting gram Oxone, a widely used herbicide.
Several months ago, a woman drove her car off the Flat Bridge into the Rio Cobre River. And there are numerous accounts of persons who have either committed suicide, attempted to commit suicide, had mental breakdowns or have otherwise harmed themselves and/or others in recent times.
It is easy for persons on the outside to say of these people that they were weak, or they just needed to appreciate what they had because others have more challenges and are holding on etc. But what we must understand is that individuals process things differently and everyone has a different threshold. What is also true is that many persons are living with undiagnosed and/or untreated mental illness.
The state of the world over the last two years certainly has not helped. It is 2022 and a post pandemic world still seems far off. The reality for many people is that they have lost loved ones, they have lost jobs, some children have lost both parents and parents have buried children. Babies even. Some persons have lost multiple family members and some families have lost their primary breadwinners. This disease has left people suffering physically, emotionally, financially and mentally.
Bear in mind that the world was a dark place for many even before covid. It is understandable that a single mom who was already struggling to feed her kids while she had a job and is now unemployed might feel like she’s at the end of her rope. It is understandable that the young man who quit his job and used his savings to start his own business only to have to close his doors a year after would feel depressed.
Suffering in silence
As a result of the stigma associated with mental illness, a lot of persons have chosen to suffer in silence rather than seek treatment to get their mental health on track. This is the real disgrace. That a sick person would avoid even so much as getting the correct diagnosis for their illness because just the thought of being told that they are mentally ill will not be entertained.
And let’s be very clear, being mentally ill does not mean that you are insane and walking the streets being a danger to yourself and others. But it could eventually mean that, if left ignored.
There are persons who get up every day, don their masks – and I don’t mean the ones we use to protect against Covid-19 – and go to work or school, hang out with friends, carry out their household duties and are so depressed that they pray every night that they might not wake up the next day.
But they do wake up, so they put on their fake smile again, turn on the fake cheer and repeat the cycle of pretense while they continue to deteriorate until they get to the point where the will to live is gone and not even love for their young dependent children is strong enough to make them want to fight what they see as a losing battle.
You are your brother’s keeper
About a month or so ago I was sitting by myself waiting on a friend and a lady stopped and asked me if I was ok, to which I replied in the affirmative. She then asked me if I was sure and proceeded to tell me that she passed me on her way going about her business and was then passing back and I was still there and so with everything going on in the world with the pandemic and how it was affecting people mentally she just wanted to check if I was ok. I don’t know this lady; I’d never met her before and have not seen her since but she took the time to reach out to a stranger.
Her action made me reflect on the parable Jesus told in St. Luke chapter 10, verses 25-37 of the good Samaritan when He was asked to explain who a neighbour was. The truth is we are all charged to be a neighbour to every single person we meet. We are supposed to be our brother’s keeper and that can mean different things to different people at different times.
Sometimes it’s giving a listening ear when someone wants to unload their feelings. So often we greet someone and ask, “how are you?” or “what’s up?” then proceed to get right to the business at hand without even pausing to hear the response. The truth is we don’t really care. Those words have just become a form of greeting and not an indication that we really care to know how the other person is doing. Therefore more often than not the response will be “I’m ok” or “I’m great” when the reality is anything but.
How about the next time you utter those words you actually say them with meaning and let the person you are speaking to know that you are interested and invested in their wellbeing…
Stay tuned for part 2…
Natasha Young is an accountant and mother of one from the land of wood and water (Jamaica) in the West Indies who feels like she has missed her true calling which was to have become a teacher, or writer/director (or all of the above!). She is the only person she knows who works with numbers everyday but had English as a favourite subject in school. The most used app on her phone is Kindle so you know what that means. She is a lover of music and can oftentimes be heard belting on the top of her voice even though singing is not a talent of hers. But ultimately, she is just a sinner saved by grace who believes we all have a responsibility to use our gifts for the growth of God’s people and His glory.