As I often do, I am reflecting on my current circumstances whilst writing this article. In terms of my current life stressors I am currently going through a high conflict divorce. I am also unjustifiably being denied any contact with my three beautiful children by my ex-partner. And I have recently returned to work following a three month period off sick with reactive, severe depression.
Both the high conflict divorce and my legal challenge to have some kind of contact with my children is resulting in an increasing amount of financial debt for me.
In terms of my children, the aim of their mother is continue to deny me any contact with my children. She ultimately plans to erase me from their lives and destroy what was previously a loving and healthy relationship between my children and I. The term for this set of behaviours being exhibited by my ex-partner towards me and my children is known as parental alienation and in this case it is severe. For those readers unfamiliar with this form of abuse see my What is PAS? page
With regards to my depression, I am back at work but still in a phase of recovery. I am understandably being prevented by my employers from working any extra hours due to the current risk of relapse and the ongoing nature of the abovementioned stressors that triggered my depression.
By coincidence I am a mental health nurse on an adult acute psychiatric ward. Among many other mental health issues I see depression in numerous patients every day at work. So it was a surreal experience for me at the height of my recent depression to find myself a service user of mental health services. This topic is explored in more detail in my article below, recently published in Invisible Illness, entitled Roles Versus Labels.
I am fortunate enough to not be an anxious individual. Therefore this allows me to mostly reflect as opposed to ruminate negatively on all that I am attempting to manage and cope with to the best of my ability. In most aspects of life, when my mental health is stable I am an optimist, even in the face of overwhelming adversity. I am told by those close to me that I always seek a solution as opposed to dwelling on the problem.
With this in mind, I currently find my thought processes jumping from one subject to another in quick succession. I now find myself thinking about impairments of the mind and positive thinking. Please bear with me reader, the point will be made shortly. With autism there is what are known as triads of impairment. These so-called impairments summarise the difficulty of an individual with autism. They are an impairment in social interaction, restricted/repetitive patterns of behaviour and an impairment in social behaviours. This in turn got me thinking about a possibly new viewpoint in terms of facing, managaing and overcoming what at times appear overwhelming odds in managing ones own mental health.
“The family and close friends that remain are real, sincere, trustworthy and selfless. Without them I would not have recovered.”
First I would like to give the reader some context. During my recent bout of severe depression, when I was at my lowest ebb, I invariably shut myself down. As is often the case with depressive episodes I found myself denying the intensity of the way I felt. I found myself shutting off from my family and close friends. Family and friends, that no matter what would always be there for me.
Due to the nature of parental alienation and my high conflict divorce friends and some family have ‘taken sides’ and are no longer there for me. However the family and close friends that remain are real, sincere, trustworthy and selfless. Without them I would not have recovered. Without them I would not be able to continue to face what lays ahead.
So this in turn brings me back to my new viewpoint. I dislike jargon, I dislike acronyms and I particularly dislike terminology for the sake of it. However my new view point is what I call The Triad of Empowerment. From my perspective this humble little concept of mine is the combination of, provision of and utilisation of care, love and compassion. Without which I would I wouldn’t be doing as well as I am with my continuing stressors.
In returning to my family and close friends, I am incredibly fortunate to have them. As a mental health nurse I see people struggle in times of acute crisis much more than me, and all too often they tragically have no one close to support them. My family and close friends have shown me unconditional care, love and compassion even at the most difficult of times of both them and myself. They continued to show me unconditional care, love and compassion even at times when I attempted to shun them.
The Oxford English dictionary defines care as ‘the provision of what is necessary for the health, welfare, maintenance, and protection of someone or something.’
That somewhat tricky word love is defined as simply being ‘a strong feeling of deep affection for somebody/something.’
And last but not least compassion is defined as ‘the concern for the sufferings or misfortunes of others.’
“There is no substitute for true care, love and compassion from those that are truely there for you.”
So on reflection, it is these three attributes in others that I have come to value and appreciate the most in others. I now find myself having a deeper and more insightful understanding of care, love and compassion. I now feel able to identify better when people are expressing them sincerely. In addition to this I also now feel better equipped and more able to offer such attributes back to those in need in a much more meaningful and helpful manner.
At times life can be hard. But in my humble opinion there is no substitute for true care, love and compassion from those that are truely there for you.
Arthur Schopenhauer the 19th century German philosopher once said “compassion is the basis of morality.”