Isaiah 53:3-4 – He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain. Like one from whom people hide their faces he was despised, and we held him in low esteem. Surely, he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted.
Most of us know and understand the physical pain score. You are hurting or not feeling well. A healthcare provider asks that you rate your pain based on a scale of 0 to 10, with 0 being no pain and 10 being the most intense pain ever.
Ranking our physical pain is not new. We’ve done it or asked someone else to rank their pain. It’s part of physical evaluations all the time. Maybe you have even experienced a time when your pain was a 10: so intense and unbearable that you did not know if you would make it.
But what about emotional or physical pain? Have you ever been asked to rank your pain from 0 to 10 this way?
Uhm, probably not.
And it really is unfortunate. And totally necessary.
Recently, I have become aware of several situations where the emotional and mental pain was no longer intense that there only seemed one way out: ending things. A few weeks back, my heart broke when I heard that a 14-year-old boy from our community had died after wanting to end his life. A 14-year-old? Yes.
I knew this boy. Pre-COVID, the school district invited community members to mentor school students. I was matched with this boy the first year I mentored. Highly unusual, I mentored him a second year as well, per his request. The following year, he moved into a different school and mentoring was not offered in this school. Then, COVID hit. Within the last number of months, I have seen him working in a local business. We always chatted when I saw him working. One of the last times I was at this business, he was training a new employee. He was so excited to share this.
Obviously, something was off in his life. I do not know the details. What I do know is that his emotional and/or mental pain was so intense, he felt there was no other way. His pain was a 10 and it appears he did not know what to do to deal with the pain other than no longer be in pain.
My heart is broken. Along with so many others.
In the last few years, it seems that the number of people dealing with emotional and mental pain that is near a 10 has increased. Why? There are probably many contributing factors. No two people are alike. What is affecting one person may be different from another person. How to reach out and help people is also unique to each individual. Yes, it is helpful for a national 988 number for people to call and ask for help. What about those have already passed the point of where they want to reach out? How do we identify and help those people?
I have more questions than answers these days. And my heart breaks. I feels so difficult to provide safe spaces for people to seek help. Unfortunately, when the pain reaches a 10 and the decision is made to end things, there is very little that can be done.
What CAN we do when things feel out-of-whack for someone? I am not a trained professional in this area but here are a few of my thoughts:
- Keep your eyes and ears open for statements that feel a little off. If you feel something is off, error on the side and caution and seek out help for the person.
- Learn to ask each other about our emotional and mental pain on the pain scale. Let’s use this in this capacity as well.
- Connect regularly with those who you know historically have struggled. Plan time together, not to just talk, but do something that will allow the person to relax. This may provide an opportunity for someone to open up just a bit.
- Contact the appropriate folks if you are really concerned about someone.
Emotional and mental pain can bounce all around and over the board. It can change quickly, in both directions. We probably are not able to “fix” another person’s struggles. We can simply be available.
Talking about mental health has not been popular until late. I pray that we will discover this IS an important topic and give ourselves permission to talk about it in our own lives. Everything begins with awareness. An assessment of where someone is, which can be as easy as identifying one’s pain. Yes, there is a lot more to long-term care than one check-in. Most of us are not trained to do something like this. And it’s OK. Get help as soon as something feels off.
The death of this young teen has left an impact in our little community. I often wonder what constitutes for pain to be so intense that it feels like a 10, which also means unhappy thought s are part of their regular thought process. I cannot answer this.
What I can say is that Jesus has experienced as much pain as anyone. It appears that he dealt with excruciating pain and suffering. In fact, it talks about how we assume that because Jesus’ pain was caused by God. My view is a little different: God doesn’t cause awful things to happen. God WILL be present with us when we go through an emotional and/or mental time that feels like a 10. God will help us climb out of the pit, if we allow God to do so.
It often feels easy to identify physical pain. And for the most part, it is. I believe emotional and mental pain can be more debilitating than physical pain and may lead people towards a path that never makes sense. Let’s keep our ears and eyes open for those people who may be experiencing ridiculous pin. It may be our time to help someone.
For the understanding that emotional and mental pain is awful, I am very grateful.
Dear God – It was a small act of kindness and one that was knitted in Your never-failing love. A friend just dropping off a few veggies and sharing her bounty. Holy God – thank you for being an amazing God. Thank you for the amazing things that You do over and over again in my life. Amen.
If this post touched you, I invite you to share it.
Please check out these other blog posts featuring “10.”
10 Things I Learned While Waiting On God by Sharla Hallett
10 Ways to Spend a Rainy Day With Kids At Home by Amy Cobb
The Ten Lepers – A Lesson in Thankfulness by Lisa Granger
Never Travel Without These Ten Things by Jessica Weaver
10 Ways to Turn Things Around by Ashley Olivine