He is lucky that he comes from a well to do family, who also care for him, protect him.To say he has a heavy burden would be an understatement, but perhaps lighter than some.He calls me from time to time, well actually quite often, so much so that I don’t always answerwhen his name comes up on my phone; no I don’t always answer, but he leaves a message.
I try to limit myself to four calls a week, for he never knows how to close, he goes on and on. It shows his pain, need, loneliness, which sometimes makes me impatient, it is so much. Often I say I have to go, and he continues without stopping, so I say it again, and it continues, so finally, I just simply say, “I really have to go”, and hang up, I never feel good about that.
He had a very bad episode three years back, which put him in a psychiatric hospital for a long time. He is still struggling with that; for he lives in a small town, well known, so his shame is great. We go round and round, me saying that everyone has forgotten but him, get over it. So little by little he is getting better at least with this, but his paranoia stays, like a guest, that was never welcomed, but hangs on forever, intimate, close, smothering, overwhelming.
He called this week, a dramatic call, I signed when I heard his voice, but he is a friend after all.“It is beating me Mark; I am losing the battle with my mental illness”. I was silent for awhile,
really what can I say, I am no psychiatrist. So, I said the only thing I could, I simply encouraged him, told him that he needs to see how lucky he is, loving family, also family money, so he can get the best care. He has been through much worse I reminded him, his moods change, just wait it will morph into something else. Simple things, but it seemed to help; perhaps he only wanted to be listened too.
I am ashamed to say that sometimes I get impatient with him, well perhaps I just lack energy at times, which leads me to lack patience, but I accept the fact of my limitations, makes me understand my need for grace. I am only a channel after all; my heart is shallow without God’s grace empowering me. This is not an understatement by any means.
Today as we talked, he let me know that he is better, and thanked me for listening. I praised him for working with his doctor, also for taking his medicines. He does not stop taking them, a real plus, many don’t do that. Let him know that he is blessed with a great intellect and he uses it, and to continue. Again I had to cut the call short, perhaps soon I will tell him about the need to perhaps be more sensitive to those whom he calls. He complains that his friends after a while stop answering him, I know why; perhaps the time is coming for me to tell him my thoughts on the matter. I think he will listen, but it is hard.
Boundaries, when are they needed, when to step back, when to be truthful when to just listen? Also emotions, how to deal with fatigue that simply comes from being human, we all have it. I need to address it, rest, pull back, but how much? I have never figured that one out, so it is a balance act with me, one I think I often lose. Perhaps better to loose than to withdrawal. I honestly don’t know the answer to that.