I don’t suffer from depression. I don’t know what it’s like to feel the need to self-injure. I don’t have thoughts of killing myself.
But I’m human, just like those who suffer from these pains are.
Because we’re human, we all suffer in our own ways. But I believe we all need someone to stand up for us when we ourselves can’t, someone to drag us home through the mud and the dirt when we’re feeling too much. No matter the cause of the pain, it’s pain: It all hurts.
I might not struggle with mental illness, but I struggle. Boy, do I struggle. And sometimes I feel as if a wall is put up between those who struggle with mental illness and those who don’t. There’s a wall between those of us classified as “normal” and those who fear they will never attain that normalcy. But I’ve come to believe that we need to stop being so afraid of other people just because they suffer differently than us.
I hear and read far too often, in life and on the Internet, sly comments that make a casual thing out of suicide. The phrase “kill yourself” is far too calm and indifferent for my liking, and I’m afraid we expose our fear for these struggles with our mockery. Maybe it’s because we fear what we don’t understand. I think our natural response to our own ignorance is to make fun of it and run away from what we don’t understand. We try to pretend the pain of others isn’t a big deal, but what kind of response is this? How would I respond if someone told me my pain didn’t matter? I’d probably crumble on the spot.
No, I don’t struggle with depression. But I do believe I shouldn’t be counting people out just because they struggle differently than me. All pain hurts. I may not ever know what it would be like to feel compelled to self-injure, but I’m not going to let that stop me from loving someone who does. My pain is different than your pain, but I can love you still.
It is difficult to try to understand someone else’s pain when you haven’t felt it. But love isn’t understanding. Love is what happens in spite of understanding. There’s nothing cool about pretending, either. You can sense when someone is pretending to understand something for your benefit, and though their intentions are probably good, it just makes you sink deeper into the feeling that you are truly alone. But if we just show up in the lives of those who are struggling, they get one step closer to finding the help they need.
If I focused less on understanding and more on showing up, I’d be in a better place. The truth is, people don’t always need you to understand. People need other people. I have to accept that there are certain pains I will never be able to fully grasp. But there are all kinds of people going through all kinds of pain, and they all need one thing from us: a heart that will listen, not a mind to comprehend. To put it bluntly: We need to love despite the differences in our pain. When it comes to human connection, we’ll find that there are more similarities than there are differences among us; there are deeper things that bring us together. When we begin to explore, we soon discover the beauty in the idea that our pain does not define us. In fact, we are much more than that.
So let me hear about your pain. I can’t promise you apprehension. But I can promise you a friend. I can promise you someone who believes in you. I think we all need that, and I think that’s exactly what we were put here to do – believe in each other, no matter how dark our skies get. We have to believe that the only star left in the night sky will be the one that lights the path home. I think we need that more than anything when things go bad.
Sometimes I feel as if a wall has been put up, and I’m beginning to wonder if I was one who helped build it. But I want to tear it down. I want to be rid of the lie that love is understanding. No matter how you suffer, we all need to be reminded that we are here, we are alive, and we matter. We need to know that we are not forgotten when we are swimming in our sorrows. I want to knock down the walls that are stuck between the people who suffer differently than me, the people who are swimming in different colored waters. I want to be able to look them in the eye and say, “I’m not afraid of your pain.” I want to offer them some coffee and an honest heart. This is the world I want. I want a world that loves even what it does not understand.
As someone who suffered from depression from a very young age who has been told to kill myself and countless times been put down and put down by others, it’s refreshing to hear somebody who can take a step back and look at themselves and see the way that they could be contributing to another person’s pain & want to change.
“A heart that will listen not a mind that will understand”. .excellent advice ..so many times we just want to fix ..when all the person wants is for someone to just listen to them
i have just watched the movie and cant stop crying – i suffer from depression and anxiaty and bad spelling = i hurt so much sometimes – being alone and having no 1 to be with is so hard for me to deal with and the saying that people need people is so true – the guilt and shame that i carry with me drowns me at times
I must say this is a powerful touching post. I enjoyed reading it. The world needs more people like you. Those who do know you should be blessed. Amazing write
As a person that’s been considering ending my life multiple times in the past and more recently, I believe what has been said in the post. Having someone just to listen and allow you to express yourself is the best. It makes you feel less alone and even though there is little understanding there is still that safe space to heal within oneself. I applaud what is in the post, I wish many many more take this to heart and practice what you have said
I was so touched by your story, that I wish to share my own on this blog. Is that possible?
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Bless you for this. The world needs more people like you.
I am going to take some snippets of your blog that spoke volumes to me if I may. I used to deal with self injury or what they diagnosed it as “self mutilation” when I was younger. It was a struggle to deal with alone, to think that you are the only one suffering from the kind of pain that I was experiencing. My family though they say aren’t so supportive, thought I was losing my coconuts and depression wasn’t something real for them to grasp. Honestly, I have been following the blog and never really commented until now, with waterworks and all.
” No matter the cause of the pain, it’s pain: It all hurts.”
It all hurts no matter what caused it, and I remember lashing out on myself whenever I felt like I have hurt the people I love or just felt like I have done something wrong. I used to tell myself I’d rather hurt me than say something to them that would hurt them in return. Then again I wasn’t as vocal with what I feel way back my teen years.
“It is difficult to try to understand someone else’s pain when you haven’t felt it. But love isn’t understanding. Love is what happens in spite of understanding. ”
That is exactly how I see it, that love is more than just comprehending. My boyfriend of almost six years, though he hadn’t understood before, he was one of the reasons why I had stopped. Now I couldn’t even bare the thought of doing such things to myself, because I saw the hurt in his eyes when he saw what I did. He didn’t have to say anything to me that day he caught me, his pained expression said it all that I wasn’t hurting just me, I was hurting him too.
“You can sense when someone is pretending to understand something for your benefit, and though their intentions are probably good, it just makes you sink deeper into the feeling that you are truly alone.”
I’ve had friends and acquaintances who kept saying they understand and back then I really felt like they don’t quite get it. The pain I was feeling isn’t the same as what they have in mind. Even I know for a fact that, it’s one of the trigger words for others to just sink deeper into the darkness they feel they’re in. I try to refrain to use the phrase “I understand” loosely when it comes to speaking to someone who is dealing with certain life circumstance.
“we all need that, and I think that’s exactly what we were put here to do – believe in each other, no matter how dark our skies get. ”
I am constantly surrounded with people who struggle with depression and some with thoughts of self injury, and some of which knew my history. I try to be a light to their eternal night sky. I believe that they can rise above the quick sand that they feel stuck in as I have. I try to get the help they need by being someone that listens, because at times it’s what all of us needs.
Thank you for sharing this, I cried reading it and as I typed this long novel of a comment. I have learned to rise above the need to inflict injuries on myself and will continue to rise above it.
I am normal too. Unfortunately my wife isn’t. She is duel diagnoses bipolar / alcoholic. She cycles very rapidly and her most recent episode has resulted in her being hospitalized using the Baker Act yesterday.
I love her dearly but I am very concerned they are only going to keep her for a couple of days and will release her back to me and my 10 year old daughter without doing anything to actually help her with her illness. This has occurred before and I am extremely concerned regarding our safety as my wife can be very violent during her rages. I would appreciate any advice that someone reading this may offer. Anyways if you read about us in the papers then you will know that my family was not helped by the system and my wife was not given the treatment she needed.
Yes . . . I am a normal person suffering in bipolar hell.
Thank you so much for commenting and sharing part of your story with us. We’re sorry to hear what you and your family are going through right now. Would you please email [email protected]? We’d love to talk to you there.
Im so happy that you can understand all those concepts even though you have never self harmed before. This gives me and other self harmers hope that others who don’t self harm will be there standing by our sides waiting to help us.
I have just finished watching the movie this morning. I really felt all of her pain. I even understand her pain and the gentleman who had let Rene stay in his home. I never really had anyone to really go to outside of family. I always felt alone and misunderstood. I still feel that way. The pain of feeling not heard or no one to listen. It really plays on me. I have found throughout all my life from as young as 5. I have always been there for them(family, friends, associates and strangers). It is now in my adult life. I realize I have had no one to really truly be there for me, to listen, to understand or just be there. I am like a roller coaster much of the time. Up, down, drops and dips. It is a constant struggle. I look on to God so much, that I sometimes feel I need to give him a break, knowing that I will never loose him. But, with that aside, it is inspiring to know that I am not perfectly normal but I am normal. Everyday is one day at a time. I still feel no one understands and I am in it alone. What keeps me going is knowing that I can get through it and I will. One day at a time. I do feel that people are not just afraid to hear someone else pain but just believe that one can not have that much pain or pain at all. I can go on writing. But, I am going to end this by saying, “It is wonderful to know, I am not perfectly normal but I am normal.”
Thank you friend, for being willing to listen and just show empathy. Too many people try to find or suggest a solution, which in turn can make, me anyways, feel more alone. Suggesting a solution like what I am feeling is a problem, like I am a problem because I am an emotional person. I’ve been struggling lately, but I wanted to reach out and say Im grateful I came across your post, because even for a second, I felt “connected” again.
I absolutely love this! “No matter how you suffer, we all need to be reminded that we are here, we are alive, and we matter.” I wouldn’t be able to write this any better if I tried!
It is so sad to see that ‘wall’ keeping us apart from each other. Every one of us are human and we all need to be viewed as the same when it comes to mental health. If we are viewed as the same in regards to health, why does that change once the word ‘mental’ is placed in front of it?
Thank you for this post.
This perfectly captures our society and as a person that struggles daily with depression and anxiety, I really respect and love the way you approached this. It’s so true that the world we live in divides those who suffer differently, but I am with you on breaking that stigma. Thank you Jordan, this is beautifully put and I just wanted to let you know that this touched me in a raw and real way.
Cheering for you,
Amen. You said it so well!