I was in my 20’s when I first started battling psychosis. I had two young children and could barely get out of bed. One day we had a break-in. When the police came the officer saw my house and asked if it had been ransacked. I had to say, “No, it was like this when I left.” I was mortified but I just could not get my act together.
I needed help but at the peak of my illness – before I could get stabilized on medication – I was completely alone. I had no church connection. I had no job. My closest friend dumped me because I was too “negative”. It felt like I battled alone.
That was 20 years ago. In that time, I’ve had good times and bad. I’ve gained friends and lost friends. I’ve had jobs and left jobs. I have God in my life and I’ve begun to develop a solid support system but I still have a long way to go to get to the place where I can share my truth without people judging me. They look down on me and doubt my abilities. They take my transparency and use it against me.
I know I’m not alone. I see it in my other friends who battle illnesses. There are people who don’t want to be around those who struggle. They want them tucked away where no one will notice them. Instead of seeking to help those in pain, they leave them lost and alone. Our openness about our illnesses makes others uncomfortable.
So, what do those of us who struggle do? We redefine our definitions of success. Instead of tearing ourselves down for our limitations, we step back and look at ourselves, and see what we have accomplished. We persevered. We didn’t give up. We kept fighting. If others can't see the strength and courage it takes to keep fighting no matter how we feel, that's their problem. Those that want to judge us, THEY are the ones who are in the wrong. They are the ones who refuse to see us as separate from our sickness. We have so much to offer, so much to give, we shouldn't be defined by the limitations others see.
We also have to make sure WE are not judging others. Judging is easy. Joining is hard. When we look at others, we may see ourselves in them. We may see our weaknesses in them. We can’t become part of the judgement. Instead of thinking in terms of what that other person SHOULD do, we have to make sure we help those struggling by seeing their progress. Join in their fight to overcome. Don’t add to their struggles by implying they aren't doing enough. Treat others the way we want to be treated.
Matthew 7:1-2 “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you."