A Morning Prayer for Suffers of Mental Illness

I have lived with depression for many years and in all that time few people have known about it.  That is not unusual for those of us who suffer from depression. Depression, well all mental illness, is a hidden disease, a taboo disease. When someone suffering from a mental illness speaks up, they are given a lot of advice, most of it worthless, then people walk away and avoid you from then on.  Yes, the medical professions have finally begun to address mental illness for the disease it is. But, within the general population mental illness is still a stigma and affected individuals and their family go to great lengths to keep it hidden. You see most of our ideas of mental illness come from history where sufferers were thought to be possessed by demons or were the result of some shameful act in their or their family’s past.  So, keeping sufferers of mental illness hidden has a long, painful, and cruel history.

In fact, today it is only when a person with mental illness becomes a threat to themselves or others does anyone know about it. When that happens it is not medical personnel who become involved it’s the courts or the police and the sufferer is then stigmatized and hidden away either in a mental institute, or prison.  Mental institutes may or may not be helpful because they are poorly funded, and prisons, well they are simply store houses for the mentally ill.

In the last week a new spokesperson, Simone Bile, become the one who unlocked the door of mental illness and let in some light.  She admitted she was suffering, which was causing her to lose focus when she needed it most. For her safety and the safety or her Olympic Team, she withdrew from competition. That took courage, great courage, for her to say no when many would have been pressuring her to remain in the games.

What follows is a prayer for sufferers of mental illness, who like me have been living in the shadows for a long time.  I have lost friends to suicide because they couldn’t find the help they needed to crawl out of the darkness.  I know too many who today struggle just to survive in a world that doesn’t understand or care about them. I do not know the number of people who suffer from some form of mental illness.  But if we knew that number, I have no doubt that it would be the number one disease in this country. If we knew that mental illness affected more people than say cancer or heart attacks maybe we would have more funds to fight it, more personnel to treat it, and more compassion for sufferers.

A Morning Prayer for Suffers of Mental Illness
(Opening Prayer for Queen Anne Christian Church, Seattle WA.)

Creator, Partner, Friend,
I wait for light
In the darkness of my mind.
I call out but
I hear only echoes in the emptiness around me.

I am afraid to speak of my pain.
People do not want to hear,
To listen, to sit in silence with me,
I frighten them.
They fear not what they don’t know
But what they might learn.

Creator, Partner, Friend,
come to me and sit with me,
Listen to me.
Hold me in silence and give me comfort.
Don’t let me go,
be my light in the darkness
You are all I have, If I lose you
I am afraid I will lose myself.

Creator, Partner, Friend,                                               
I ask in humble prayer
For myself and others like me.
Open the hearts and minds of
Our loved ones, of strangers,
Give them courage
To confront their fears and
Reach out to touch us,
To hold us,
to listen to us,
To sit in silence with us,
To be with us in our suffering, our pain,
To be the light in the darkness.

I ask this, Creator, Partner, Friend
In the name of the Carpenter Rabbi
Who welcomed us,
Who sat in darkness with us,
And brought us into the light.

Ruth Jewell, ©August 1, 2021

A Small, Sad, Little Man

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, Virginia December 2, 2015. Salon.com

 

I have a confession to make, I pity Donald Trump.  I have gone through several stages regarding “the Donald” in the last few years, from repulsion to dislike, to anger, to downright hate.  But in the last couple of days I have surprised myself by realizing I simply pity a sad little man.  A small, sad, unlikable man who wants to be liked.  Yes, I have compassion for this spoiled, paranoid, mentally ill man who has gotten himself into a position he has no idea how to handle and has put us all at risk.  That surprised me.

I have taught tolerance and compassion on this page for several years and now I realize that I need to practice what I teach.  Despite his sexual misconduct, his spoiled little rich boy tantrums, his lies, his bully boy swagger I am called to love this man. Not like, and certainly not support, his behavior or his lies, but, love as Jesus of Nazareth in the Gospels would.  Not the love being taught by those who pervert the Gospel, and there are too many of those in the press right now, but with compassion for someone who is in mental pain, and ill.  I am called to understand that this small little man is unable to understand what being a human being entails because he was never taught how to be a human being.  His examples in life were as broken as he is and he has perpetuated that brokenness within his own family.  That is sad.

Now, Donald Trump is not an easy person to have compassion for.  His mental illness keeps him from recognizing how much damage his lies and actions cause.  His self-centeredness and ego keep him focused only on himself and that prevents him from seeing the world around him as worthwhile and valued, unless it is feeding him.  Unfortunately, he has landed himself in a position he doesn’t understand, making him easily manipulated by foreign powers and those in the GOP who want power.  However, as my mother would say, “you made your bed, now lie in it.”  It is not that I will ever support him or the GOP when they put people, our country, and our world at risk but I will at least try to understand that what he does comes from a background that was devoid of compassion for others.  He may have grown up monetarily wealthy but his life has no richness to it.  He is one of the poorest people on earth.  That is the reason he strikes out at those who have found life with meaning that doesn’t encompass only gold.  That is reason he strikes at President Obama, because he is loved and Donald isn’t, not even by his family.  That makes his heart small, his life small, and that deserves our, my, compassion.

To love someone that is unlovable is hard and I can only say this new practice of compassion and love is a work in progress.  So, expect backsliding. I will continue to resist, protest, letter write, and even tweet at “the Donald.” However, I will temper my statements with as much kindness I can muster at the moment and I will add this man to my prayer list. Jesus said to love the unlovable, the sick, the poor, and the imprisoned and Donald is unlovable, poor, and imprisoned in walls of his own making and the making of his family. But he is one of God’s beloveds and that is all that matters. I am not sure how successful I will be but I will try, so, help me Holy Spirit.

Ruth Jewell, ©March 13, 2017