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You’re Talking About Me: A Lesson in Compassion

No pictures this time; no quotes. Just truth.

Phillip Seymour Hoffman. Amy Winehouse.

Kurt Kobain. Asher Brown.

Adam Lanza. James Holmes.

You may know these names, you may not. The first set died from drug addiction. The second from suicide. The third set after gunning down innocent people.

And they all have something in common.

They have a neurological disease. A disorder of the brain.

It is important that we start recognizing that these diseases are real. To start treating the person and not avoiding the problem. We don’t need tougher gun laws, nor do we need to make every drug illegal. We don’t need to lock them up in prisons only to throw away the key, or call them out publicly or mock them, and we don’t need to shame their families.

What we need is compassion.

And we need to help them. Truly help them.

I want you to read the two articles I am going to link to in a minute, and I want you to comment. I want to know what you think.

Because if you think it’s not a disease, or the suffering person is at fault, or must have sinned to deserve it, or that they must not want it bad enough, or that they’re weak, you’re talking about me.

  • I have PTSD (NICU/Loss of Carter, although I’ve always suffered from anxiety/depression).
  • I am slightly OCD (to the point where I obsess over my fears and can’t sleep at night).
  • I am addicted to sugar (and maybe caffeine) – and yes, this is an addiction and there is scientific evidence that it is possible.

Article 1: An addict talks about what it’s really like – and she’s right. 

Article 2: A medical professional shares how the brain is wired and why you should care.

So, before you pass judgement on the ‘crazy’ guy with the gun, or the ‘junkie’ that should have known better, or the person who takes their own life – please, please think about what their life (and that of their loved ones left behind), must have been like.

And, then, count your blessings. Or help someone. Or get help.

Just please, please, don’t stand by and do nothing. Or talk about it as if those that suffer from these diseases need to be banished from the earth.

Because, here’s the thing…

We are the hands and feet of Jesus.

And these people are people, too.

I’m sure some of you are going to think that I have sympathy for the wrong people; I still think that their actions are wrong, but that doesn’t make them any less lovable or worthy of my love and forgiveness.

Or yours.

In fact, feeling this way is what freed me. I realize now that there are people in my life that suffer from brain disorders, too, and while what they did might be wrong, they are still deserving of a Jesus-like love.

It’s what led me to forgive the 17-year-old babysitter that molested me for over a year when I was only four years old; who set it deep within my being that sex was dirty; who causes me to sometimes slip back into that scared little girl, even today, even though I know my husband loves me.

It allowed me to let go of the hatred I had for my stepmom that physically and emotionally abused me; who forced me to use tampons that first year I started my period and if I didn’t, gave me only one small pad for the day; who taught me to flinch whenever someone reaches over me from behind.

It’s freed me from the feelings of abandonment when the dad who raised me suddenly decided he didn’t want to be my dad anymore – at the same time my babies were fighting for their lives in the NICU, when I needed him most – because I was ‘too needy’.

It’s also what lets me forgive and love myself more.

For when I’m not a good wife because I can’t handle certain stresses or emotions and my husband has to work twice as hard to make our life work or pick up my slack.

For when I just can’t get out of bed because I’m so, so tired from grief or depression or stress or… something I can’t put my finger on, I just know I’m in a funky mood.

For when I need someone to come help me with the babies because it all just feels so hard.

For when, despite telling myself I’m not going to, I peel back the seal on another can of frosting and eat it by the spoonfuls, sometimes in the dark, small comfort of the pantry.

For when I’m not perfect. For when I fail. For when my brain disorder, my disease, gets the best of me.

And because I have people in my life that do this for me – that show me this compassion, this Jesus-like love – I am a survivor. I am able to continue on living, to make good of my bad, to be a voice for others.

Now, I’m not saying that every person with a brain disorder can be healed – at least not in this world. What I’m saying is this: instead of judging everyone that you think will never be as good as you, have some compassion. Walk in their shoes. Pray for them. Help them. LOVE them.

The world would be a better place.

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Comments

  1. You have hit the nail on the head!! You are brave to open this subject up, and stand strong in your belief of this disease. I have PTSD/OCD. It sucks! Can I write that?? Yes, I think so. Oh, I’m also addicted to sugar/caffeine. Are we sisters? (lol)

    It is very hard for a person to understand this if they don’t personally experience it. (Compassion can go far in this category.) It can be overwhelming at times. For me, it’s the things that are out of my control — which would be life in general — right??!

    The forgiveness that you have found in these terrible events is admirable … You. Are. Awesome! Thank you for sharing your heart!

    • I thought that I would add a couple of examples that “pushed” me into being this way … My oldest son had a brain tumor in May of 2007, I almost died from a health condition in my pregnancy on August 3, 2008 — as my precious boy did die that day, and my husband and I almost lost another little boy during pregnancy in 2009. There is a lot more to throw on the pile, but I’ll leave it at that. For me, I have clung to God more than I ever have. That is how I got through each day.

      It’s interesting to see how events in our lives affect our future.

      • Okay, maybe we are sisters?! Too funny. But, we have had similar experiences, so it makes sense. And, I agree – part of it is about control (or lack of it) for people like us. Thanks for commenting and loving on me – I appreciate it!

  2. Angela, it’s beautiful and truthful and amazing. That you for your bravery to share such hurtful and emotional times. I understand and completely agree that people like this are misunderstood. I believe that neurological disorders are not treated properly within society and that it’s easier to blame them for their actions. I don’t mean that we aren’t responsible for our actions, but that in some circumstances our brain doesn’t always allow us to be in control. I hope that you understand my meaning.
    I suffer from bipolar 2 disorder and a lot of times I’m stuck in bed and my husband is left with extra responsibilities. Sometimes my brain really is in more control of my actions than I would like. I believe until we can come together as a TRUE body of Christ, loving and unjudgemented then it will always be a much harder walk for those of us who are actually stuck in the “trenches”.

  3. Thank you, Leigh. I forget sometimes that sharing this sort of things is ‘brave’. I’m just such an open book and it’s part of my core belief system that sharing is essential to helping. And, I totally get where you are coming from! It’s unfortunate that it has to be this way, but stand strong & know that you are loved!

  4. We should talk. I have perspectives on this you may be interested to hear. Or you may not…your call 🙂

  5. You’re amazing. Thank you for sharing. I too have some of these same issues. You, me & Jennifer Ross must surely be sisters 🙂
    Love you & your heart.

  6. Ashamed to say I am just now reading this. Okay, so I’m a bit behind. It pains me to know all the things you have gone through and somehow feel I should have protected you better. Your comments about compassion are spot on. I only wish others were as good and strong as you are. You are truly an amazing woman!

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