Can We Ever Understand Another Person’s Suffering?

For those who don’t understand severe mental illness, I have made attempts at times to show you, the reader, what it’s like.

I am unsure, however, that I could ever succeed!

I think you have to have a close loved one have it, in order for you to truly get it.

Some of the things I presently deal with (as things cycle a lot), are suicidal ideation, depression and not wanting to do anything, lack of energy and not able to do a lot, plus delusions and hallucinations.

Most of the above symptoms are mainstays, but there are times when my suicidal ideations are better, and that’s about the only real difference for me.

Anyhow, I don’t figure many people will come to understand the chronic suffering.

I take meds, and there are lots of people who are in full support of that, which makes sense for my diagnosis (schizoaffective disorder), but some of these supporters don’t realize the double edged sword of psych meds.

They don’t heal, they don’t even fix fully, they simply help us to cope… in a rather dismal way much of the time.

Basically, if there is a takeaway on understanding something you don’t understand (and, this applies to many, many illnesses)… it is… give the other person the benefit of the doubt!

I won’t even say “have compassion,” because I think that having compassion can be difficult to come by in today’s society.

What are your thoughts regarding compassion? Do you think it’s an all or none type of thing?

15 Comments

  1. This is such an informative post! I’m currently taking a behavioral course with the topic of disability. The biggest misunderstandings come from stigma, it seems. People still associate mental health illnesses as severe schizophrenia or psychopaths, which as you know, is not the case. Like you said, unless we have a the condition, or someone close to us has it, we don’t fully comprehend it. There will always be struggles and issues we don’t consider, because we don’t live with it or witness it on a daily basis.

    I’m a very compassionate person, but I realize some people lack compassion, however, I think more people need to open their minds, and truly listen. It always baffles me how many people don’t actually listen…

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    1. I majored in Pysch in college. It’s what interests me, even to this day. The thing is, we are talking personality types when we speak of those with a presence/absence of compassion. So, it’s not necessarily an easy fix. Unfortunately. You’d think it would be… and politicians know about this too… that a lot of one’s political position is based on their personality. Thank you and thanks so much for commenting!

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  2. I find that compassion is heavily influenced by someone’s personal values. For example, while 2 people can be equally curious about someone suffering a chronic illness they don’t understand much about… whether or not they respond with compassion or judgment due to that curiosity is due to their values. I never studied psychology though.

    I don’t understand a lot about schizophrenia spectrum mental conditions but when you and others describe experiences, I can definitely come to at least sympathise.

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    1. One’s compassionate response (or the lack thereof) indeed depends on one’s values.

      You don’t have to study psychology to be a good person.

      As to the judgement aspect, most of what people spew is projection anyhow, so I try to not get too uptight about others’ shortcomings.

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  3. Really interesting post. Personally, I don’t think we can ever fully understand what someone else is going through. We can try and even succeed in understand them to an extent but never fully until we experience what they are going through for ourselves. I think compassion is vital and I just try my best to understand that every single person is unique. What they have been through is different from my experiences in life and they are allowed to react to it as they do.

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    1. I agree with what you are saying. Life is tough in and of itself. Add chronic illness to the mix and it all of a sudden can seem insurmountable. Coping mechanisms are not universal. And, that’s where compassion comes into play. Thanks for commenting.

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      1. Everyone handles things differently. The more profound an illness, I can absolutely attest to the need for medication. Ie schizophrenia, bipolar, major depression. Beyond that, I cannot speak to what one might require, medication-wise.

        I know that there has been a big push for therapy in lieu of medication for anxiety and depression, if therapy can handle the situation.

        But, as you said it is unique or individual!

        I am pro medication in general, and that is a big message on my blog.

        Of course, being in therapy alleviates the need for some medication, and that is backed up by double blind studies.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Absolutely. Depending on many different factors different things work for different people. I know for certain mental illnesses and depending on the severity of the symptoms medication is best. I took it for a while too when my symptoms were more severe. Thankfully, therapy is helping right now but if I ever feel like I need medication again I am open to it.

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