Healing Mental Illness – A Matter of Love
I had a dream on the night of July 12. In the dream I watched people being treated for mental illness as they transitioned from a hospital to a mental health treatment facility. In some of the scenes, patients were treated rudely and without compassion. This made their condition worse. In some scenes, they were treated with compassion, understanding, and love – which made their condition better.
Some dreams don’t need much interpretation. This is one of them. But I’ll share a few thoughts on how it might be applied.
The dream shows a problem as it might be seen from my perspective. I routinely transport people from hospitals to mental health facilities; usually after treatment for a suicide attempt. If you work in medicine, you’re aware that people with depression are frequently viewed with disdain. I’ll go even further – they’re often despised and resented by healthcare workers.
I transported one such patient about a month ago. We arrived at the emergency department to transport a middle-aged woman who had verbalized thoughts of killing herself after finding her 15-year-old son dead in his bedroom. Her nurses described her as a needy, controlling person. They seemed giddy about the fact that we arrived early and were finally taking her away. She’d been there less than four hours.
When I met her, I was shocked. What I found was a sweet, kind, broken-hearted woman who needed someone to show her a little compassion. I couldn’t understand why the nurses perceived her the way they did. Unfortunately, these attitudes are common among healthcare workers. At times, I’m as guilty as anyone.
In reading the book The Spiritual World by Peter Tan, I came across a fascinating revelation about love. Most of us know that God is love. That is to say; love is the very essence of His being. What most of us don’t know is that love, by itself, is able to sustain all life in the universe. The substance of love that comes from the Father is able to completely sustain all life without the help of any outside force.
In the natural world, we perceive a complex symphony of multiple forces working together to sustain life. But the truth is – love is a life-sustaining force that is much more powerful than we understand.
Many people suffer from mental illness because they are unloved. The dream is a reminder that we can heal the pain and suffering of mental illness through the power transmitted to others by acts of sincere compassion and love.