Someone’s Story

Cultivating Empathy

I feel like I should preface this post by saying: it’s a pretty deep topic, but something I feel deserves and needs to be addressed.

I’m sure a lot of us have heard the saying, “you don’t know what that person is going through.” But have you really thought about it? Do you actively try to think about it in your day-to-day life? As you’re interacting with people. As you’re scrolling social media. There’s really a lot of depth to that one sentence.

That sentence can be thought of in so many different situations. The girl at the drive through might be having a tough day. The person you sit next to in class may be scrambling to make money so they can eat a meal. The homeless man you see on the street might have a mental illness. Or a situation happened that left him unemployed for what was supposed to be short term, but then he got in a rut and doesn’t know any way out. There are so many circumstances that prompt us to say, “you don’t know what that person is going through.”

I think about this a lot when I see things on the internet, especially in regards to crime that’s happened. Many, not all, crimes are committed by someone with a mental illness- who are not taking their medication. And when/if they do decide to take medicine, they may not remember what they’ve done & feel awful about doing it.

Side note: Now put yourself in someone with a mental illness shoe’s. Imagine seeing or hearing hallucinations that seems so real to you- as real as waking up in the morning, as real as eating breakfast, as real as reading this blog post. If the hallucinations seem that real, why would you think they’re not? Why would you feel like you need to take medication for something that seems so real.

We are so quick to laugh, judge and ridicule those with mental illnesses. They are diseases too! If someone has heart disease- their heart isn’t functioning correctly. Kidney disease- the kidneys aren’t functioning correctly. Schizophrenia, bipolar, OCD- the brain isn’t functioning correctly. Physiologically, something isn’t right- just like with any other disease. They need and deserve the treatment just like any one else. Do not think they can just  “snap out of it” or that they can help it. Can someone with heart disease help it?

Empathy needs practiced more. People feel sympathetic and think “oh that’s too bad” and sure, we may act upon that & pray. Prayer is good- yes pray! But intentionally try to put yourself in the other person’s shoes. No matter the situation. I understand it’s hard to do if you haven’t been through it yourself or suffered with a loved one who’s gone through it. But isn’t it worth a shot to meet them where they are instead of bashing them where they’re at? It’s worth a shot to show some empathy while still very actively praying for the situation.

Every time I hear these situations happening, it makes my heart ache. I pray so hard that the world becomes more understanding of those with mental illnesses & intentionally try to put yourself in the other person’s shoes- to try empathy.