I firmly believe that those of us who struggle with their mental health, their illness, have a great deal of compassion. We don’t want anyone to suffer as we do and make a point of trying to help others. We appreciate that each of us has his or her own path to take out of their suffering. Yet, the desire to help remains even if that path or illness leaves us feeling helpless. Perhaps especially so.
Today I’m feeling helpless. Distance and Covid-19 prevent me from helping a friend in need. Anxiety in her is high and often quickly turns into severe panic attacks. I know that she’ll come out of them, but I also know that if I was there, we’d be able to act to lessen the anxiety and prevent panic attacks. That I can’t do this leaves me frustrated and, as I said, helpless.
Now I know I can’t save everyone. I’ve learned that lesson only too well. And I know I can’t reach everyone, but this isn’t everyone, this is a close friend. A close friend that I’m unable to help. Instead I sit by idly while her suffering continues unabated.
That’s not quite true. I speak with her as often as I can, by text and voice. More than once this has stopped the anxiety from escalating or has stopped the panic from setting in. I’m grateful that I’ve helped through these small interventions. But they don’t stop that feeling of helplessness that comes when the interventions fail. or, worse yet, I’m unable to intervene at all.
I know that this feeling hearkens to something within me and that this is something I must explore for my own benefit. For it’s not my friends’ fault I feel as I do nor is it really my fault. It just is. After all, feeling helpless is a natural reaction to have when you can’t help a friend.
Maybe that’s the point? I can’t be there all the time, nor can I help all the time. It’s enough to help some of the time. Time for me to accept this. Time for me to accept that she needs to find her own path. I’m sure she will but until then I’ll keep helping as much as I can. My friend deserves no less.
Image by Pawel Grzegorz from Pixabay