I heard someone say that emotional pain is worse than physical pain while another person retorted; ‘I sat with a friend who was dying of cancer and it sucks. Have you ever lived through severe physical pain?’
The truth probably is that both mental and physical illnesses are difficult. It must be terrible to feel so depressed that you can’t get out of bed. And, it must be dreadful to endure surgery, not to be able to feel your legs, and spend over a year lying on your back.
This blog is about expanding our worldview and helping others see our physical and emotional pain more clearly. People with some physical illnesses also face stigma. Someone told me that if I’d had more faith in God, this kind of thing would not have happened to my family. As if mental illness were some kind of punishment from above. I know that people suffering from physical illnesses hear the same kind of thing.
Just as many people think that mental illness equals incompetence, they probably think the same about physical illness and that is why Franklin D. Roosevelt hid his wheelchair and J.F. Kennedy hid his auto-immune disease. Both men faced painful challenges yet both proved to be great presidents.
Our world is not always disability friendly. If someone carries a cane or sits in a wheelchair, thus showing that there is a problem, they are more likely to get sympathetic as well as empathetic treatment. But, if that person has a serious illness not obvious from the outside, the reaction could be quite different. This is how a person suffering from a mental illness feels when he is denied insurance because to all intents and purposes, he does not have a ‘real illness,’ one that can be seen.
I think that both mentally ill and physically ill people are resilient because they are the sum of their challenges and accomplishments.
Pain comes in different packages, but empathy is universal.
Jessica Lynn Gimeno who works for the Balanced Mind Foundation.