No one sees the need and pain you don’t express – Raise your hand or voice.
As I write this article my heart bleeds. Something happened yesterday which broke me. I had written a good part of this article some months ago but withheld publishing it because I wanted to organise my thoughts better. But something happened yesterday that pushed me to rush it. I’ll tell the story below, but let’s start here so you’ll understand better:
The blind man of Bethsaida spoke out
There was this particular incident that took place so many centuries ago. Jesus had finished feeding four thousand people who were with Him for three days; a great miracle that is unheard of until then, and everyone was glad except for the Pharisees… as usual.
As Jesus and his disciples came to Bethsaida, a blind man was brought to him. Having spat on his eyes and laid hands on him, Jesus asked if he could see well. ‘‘I see men as trees, walking. [So, kindly touch me again because I need a full sight]’’. This was the answer of the blind man to Jesus in Mark 8:24; a bit unusual with Christ, whose miracles have been instant, not gradual, before now.
Note that this man could have walked away from Jesus after the first touch, remaining partially blind obviously. But he didn’t; he said the truth which yielded a perfect sight.
The man also showed courage. You were talking to the most popular and powerful man in the country, who had a large following – Jesus. All the miracles Jesus had performed before then were never questioned by the recipients. So, to tell Him that He didn’t do a good job was an act of courage in my opinion. But then, it demands courage to open up about one’s condition, because sometimes you’ll feel vulnerable.
The blind man was also humble to recognise that he had partial sight. This is unlike what we see today, where partially blind people would rather boast in their ignorance than recognise their shortfalls (impaired vision/understanding)
The woman with a haemorrhage pushed (Mark 5:24-35)
As people thronged Jesus, desiring to see this great speaker and miracle worker, a woman struggled to find her way through to Him. She had a deep-seated faith that just a simple touch of a finger would do the miracle. But no one saw her predicament of 12 years nor her faith. She had to push her way to get to the Master. No one sees the pain you don’t express.
Blind Bartimaeus raised his voice (Mark 10:46-52)
When it was the turn of blind Bartimaeus, he shouted when he learnt it was Jesus of Nazareth that passed by Jericho. The crowd trailing Jesus tried to hush him up, but he yelled all the louder “Son of David! Mercy, have mercy on me!”
He knew that he needed help and nothing, not even the rebuke from the parade could stop him. I repeat, no one sees the pains and aches you don’t express. Jesus heard his cry and called for him. That was how his name changed from blind Bartimaeus to seeing Bartimaeus.
I think that Jesus wanted to teach us something from these incidents: that no one sees the pain you don’t show; no one knows understands the needs you don’t express. Whether it is partial sight, bleeding or blindness, no one will fully appreciate your struggles if you don’t open up to talk about them. We are humans, so, except God opens my eyes to see your predicament, the best I can do is rely on whatever you tell me or on experience.
A Parenthesis: Don’t be ashamed to raise your hand and ask questions in a conference hall where everyone pretends to have understood. Several people die in silence because they’re either ashamed that they’ll be termed dumb, unintelligent, not smart, or they don’t want to hurt the feelings of the speaker. While emotional intelligence is good and should be developed, speaking out when you don’t quite get the points are not only important for you but it also helps the speaker to get his points across better.
The young man died: the story
Now, these lead me to the story that pushed me to publish this article today.
Yesterday a young man of 21 years that have been missing for about 10 days was found dead, floating in one of the rivers in the city. The search has been on and the law enforcement agencies were searching for him everywhere, including in the river. The parents were desperate and had shared photos and videos of their beloved son.
According to the local newspaper reports, on Monday the previous week, he came in around 12:45 am and later at 1:30 am woke his parents up and told them that he was leaving the house. He was agitated and told them that he had done something irredeemable and afterwards left the house.
When the parents spoke with him last, he was with a group of friends but evidently, the feeling of whatever he wanted to do hadn’t left him. That was the last contact and he eclipsed.
It was later discovered that the “irredeemable” thing he had done was some sort of fight with his friend (a girl) that he’s been having strong feelings for. No one fully knows what happened and what must have led him to think that throwing himself into the river (committing suicide) was the only solution left.
The above story is not a rare occurrence these days; daily, there are horrible stories of men that kill their spouse, their children and themselves. And this type of stories has been on the increase since the coronavirus pandemic for so many obvious reasons.
This broke my heart because I have been following the search and wishing that he return home hale and hearty. But it ended this way.
This article is actually an appeal: please, if you find yourself feeling depressed, horrible, terrible, like ending it with life, please get help. Please speak out! Talk! Talk to someone. Find help wherever you are (list of helplines in various countries). I don’t mind asking you to write to me if you can’t find help elsewhere. Let’s talk, let’s find solutions because this is one of the reasons I began writing on this blog. It’s devastating reading stories like this.
Mental disorders, a pandemic we often ignore
Mental health problem is a global pandemic that we often willingly avoid discussing. We know the problems are there but we often ignore them. Mental illness is a term that includes mental disorders such as depression, anxiety and substance disorder. These disorders affect millions of people in the world, leading to premature death and a poor quality of life. According to the World Bank, “It is estimated that at least 10 percent of the world’s population is affected and that 20 percent of children and adolescents suffer from some type of mental disorder.”
The National Institute of Mental Illness (NIMH), citing data from the 2019 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) states that, “Nearly one in five U.S. adults live with a mental illness (51.5 million in 2019).”
Talking specifically about depression, the World Health organisation says that more than 264 million people of all ages suffer from depression. Women are more affected than men and depression can lead to suicide, “at its worst, depression can lead to suicide. Close to 800 000 people die due to suicide every year. Suicide is the second leading cause of death in 15-29-year-olds.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention “The percentage of adults who experienced any symptoms of depression was highest among those aged 18–29 (21.0%), followed by those aged 45–64 (18.4%) and 65 and over (18.4%), and lastly, by those aged 30–44 (16.8%).”
Mental illness is so ignored or misdiagnosed in many countries, especially the low and middle-income countries that about 76% to 85% of those affected by mental disorders never receive treatment. There’s usually a social stigma attached to someone with a mental illness or there are no trained healthcare workers able to manage it or lack of resources, and I’d add, people aren’t informed that mental disorders aren’t just demonic possession or as a result of charms and the rest. So, people will simply say that they’re moody, have no appetite, feel tired, lack interest in things that ordinarily elicited some interest in them etc. And this goes on for months.
Here are a few important final thoughts:
Check in on your family, friends and colleagues
Check in on your friends once in a while, to know how they’re doing. Ask them to be truthful about their feelings. No pretence. Be genuine and willing to help. When you see changes in their behaviour, they’re more on their own, always moody, don’t derive joy in what normally gave them joy, dislike for people and the world, always negative/pessimist about life, or they’re going through a disappointment, bereavement, unemployment, failures etc. please know that it’s time to visit/call/write more often. You don’t know what’s going on in their minds.
Be gentle with people
Be gentle with people you meet in your daily life. We all go through bad things in life, it happens to all and there’s no escaping from it. Some days I’ve felt tired, demotivated, thought of giving up on writing on this blog, didn’t feel like praying, reading my Bible nor talking to anyone. I just wanted to be alone to digest my pains. So, if you met me those days and began using wrong words on me, you’d be complicating things. Be gentle in your words and actions no matter who you’re talking with. Some people have been betrayed, some are going through failed marriages, terminal illnesses, loss of loved ones, retrenchment, disappointments and many others you can’t even imagine. The least you can do is to be use words that soothe their pains, not words that aggravate their desperate conditions.
Don’t be quick to pass judgment
Don’t be quick to judge or offer your negative opinions. Especially in this social media age where everyone feels entitled to an opinion or to be heard, which is ok. But it should have a limit. You don’t have the right to make people feel worthless, undeserving and terrible about their life, work, marriage, age, circumstances. Until you know the full story, keep your comment to yourself. And if you jumped to a wrong conclusion you have the obligation to apologise when the truth emerges. Corrections should be given in love not to demean and hurt.
Sometimes we categorise the man at the pool of Bethesda (John 5:1-15) as giving unspecific answers, but when you’ve been on a single spot for 38 years and seen your fellows healed, including those who came years after your arrival, I challenge you to still have faith not to talk about giving an appropriate answer. No wonder Jesus didn’t care about his response, He simply healed him.
Isolation can be deadly.
Don’t isolate from godly and helpful relationships: Relationships that are positive, that inspire, that motivate, that bring out the best in us should be treasured. Staying in a community that inspires you is vital. People around us often may not understand the depth of our pains nor the height of our struggles. During these times, the tendency is to isolate from everyone but this doesn’t solve the depressive state, rather it worsens it.
When satan wants to harm you sorely, he first isolates you from everyone who might be of help because he knows that you’re most vulnerable when alone. You struggle with a thousand and one thoughts, fighting off numerous suggestions and striving to find the best path ALL ALONE. Isolation from godly relationships can be quite dangerous because no matter how strong, wise and godly you are, you have your weak moments. And if no one helps you up during those moments, satan will make a piecemeal of you in the long run, as he bombards your mind with more than you can handle. So, don’t isolate yourself completely.
Seek professional and community help
Go for counselling/therapy sessions with professionals. Don’t be ashamed to talk about it. Talk to your spouse, a friend, your doctor, Pastor etc. Remember that no one sees the pain you don’t express. Search for such places around you and visit them. If you’re depressed or having suicidal thoughts, please see a Psychiatrist immediately. Call any of these emergency lines depending on your country of residence. There are effective psychological, psychosocial and pharmacological treatments for mild, moderate and severe cases of depression. Please talk to your doctor!
Givers can lack if they stop receiving
The saying “givers never lack” is true as long as the givers are receiving. Once the givers aren’t receiving, they’ll soon become beggars themselves. Sometimes, in our attempt to be strong for others we end up getting drained and pine away in silence. Also, if you see that you’re experiencing burnout from work, please get some rest and by all means, seek help.
Christ, the Healing Balm of Gilead
Christ (God’s Word) remains the solution to anyone who has blindness, partial sight or bleeding. As we celebrate the death and resurrection of Christ, please don’t hesitate to come to Him for the healing of your heart, body and soul. Jesus had his moments of deep agony and He cried out to God. At the graveside of Lazarus his friend, Jesus wept. Why not cry out when you’re in pains?
May Jesus heal our hearts today and always.
My dear, we’re in this together and we’ll pull through. You’re loved.
The Holy Bible: Download YouVersion Bible App.
World Bank: Mental Health.
National Institute of Mental Health: Mental Illness
World Health Organisation: Depression
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Symptoms of Depression Among Adults: United States, 2019