Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs ... who isn’t familiar with their whistling while they work?
I can still hear the clink and clank of their mining tools, the whistling as they walked home, the magic of those old Disney movies seems to stay with us.
But what happens when there is no magic, no movie, no joy ... the whistling all but stops. I recently wrote on the Seven Dwarfs few of us have ever seen; but most of us have met. They are the Seven Dwarfs of Despair.
Since depression is one of the leading disabling conditions today, it’s time to embrace the struggles and supports needed. Labeling is so crushing; it’s time for us to learn and listen to those in need. Additionally, it’s time to unite as a Christian community of care, not criticism. The following are seven common struggles, their symptoms, and ways to support.
I pray you take these to heart and work with me towards helping with kindness and love. For those who struggle, I join you ... I’m with you. Let’s look into how we can work together, cultivate an understanding and healing plan for those in seasons of despair.
Here are the names, symptoms, and supports suggested for the Seven Dwarfs of DEspair.
a. Symptoms: disoriented, distracted, numb, confused, loss of direction or focus, weak, overloaded. A number of causes such as a major life changes, divorce, loss, stress, disease, mental health/brain compromise, seizures, virus, inability to metabolize vitamins, and more.
b. Support by offering assurance of your love and commitment, help prioritizing tasks, go to doctor or attorney meetings and take notes, help arrange family needs like carpools and meals.
2-3) Lonely and Empty:
c. Symptoms: crying, isolating, disinterest in what was once important or hobbies, self-harming, depression, loss of hope, vacant, withdrawn, change in weight, irritable, and more.
d. Support those who have lost a loved one by making a memory book together, plan events in the near future, listen, plan to exercise or get outside together, be a companion by being present, find humor and laugh together, provide a journal.
a. Symptoms...unaccepted loss, perfectionism, past abuse, shame, believe they earn acceptance by achievement and accomplishment, faulty or dysfunctional cognitive processing, unfounded negative self beliefs, and more.
b. Support: Help harness the imagination, offer truths to distorted beliefs, help find a cognitive behavioral therapist, remind them of their strengths...how they got through past struggles, call to mind that guilt is an emotion and not a truth or fact, listen, affirm their honesty or vulnerability, remind them it was not their fault if something happened to them.
a. Symptoms: increased heart rate, sweating, lack of sleep or insomnia, unrelenting fear, paranoia, feeling incompetent, digestive and autoimmune issues, migraines, vision problems, hypervidgulence, hyperfocus, demanding, panic attacks, hormones, shaking, dizzy, dry mouth, obsessions, body dysmorphic issues, neurotransmitter malfunction, poor metabolism of vitamins, and more.
b. Support: create a safe environment, help finding a trauma treatment therapist, attend appointments as a support, affirm strengths that got them through abuse/trauma, find support for genetic, DNA, metabolism, hormone, and body functions, seek medication support, put a chronological narritive together by listening and journaling with them, pray together, seek a sleep study, seek to understand, ask how you can help
a. Symptoms: unstable emotional control, poor focus or hyper focus, excessive sweating, outbursts of anger, abusive, resentful, flushed or redness in face, unhealthy addictions, poor problem solving skills, stuck, negative neuroplasticity-fixed neural pathways, unmotivated, victim mentality, and more
b. Support: Acknowledge their anger, empathize with anger from abuse or assault, seek brain scans, affirm that change is possible, exercise, provide a journal, cultivate healthy coping skills, clarify faulty or incongruent thinking and behavior, prayer, seek to find reasons behind anger (anger is secondary response to hurt and/or pain), practice breathing and meditation techniques, and more.
a. Symptoms: feeling hopeless, helpless, sad, negative thought patterns, unresolved grief, loss, life change, demanding, critical, depressed, unpredictable, isolation, lack of interest in life, cries easily, poor self-care, distracted, loses things easily
b. Support: Recognize the presence of sadness, offer empathy, sit with them in their pain, don’t try to fix, establish healthy boundaries, take up a hobby together, schedule fun events on the calendar, ask them to clarify statements, cultivate constructive thought patterns, affirm growth, develop positive life skills, don’t reinforce “pity-parties,” seek cognitive behavioral therapy, pray, read a book together, get out as a companion for the day, offer to help with life’s demands
Mental health is a huge topic today. My hope is that this offered a brief introduction to a few of the common struggles, symptoms to look for, and supports that bring healing. If you don’t struggle with mental health challenges, I would love to know how you have implemented these tools. For those who do struggle (I’m with you), what area of need is most present for you today?