The Importance of Validation: Cash
It’s difficult for some loved ones to give us validation for our mental illness because they don’t want to believe we’re in so much pain that they can’t do anything about. Mental disorders and the symptoms they cause can sometimes put us in a great deal of pain.
We have a need to share our pain with others. There’s just a desire in us for people we care about to know that we’re hurting. We want them to know so they can comfort us, pray for us, reassure us, and take care of us. Mental illness validation from our loved ones and others helps us to recover.
For some reason, with mental illness there is scrutiny by others. Some people, it seems, think it’s their call in life to disparage people who suffer from mental disorders. Unfortunately, the attacks often come from the ones who are supposed to care for us the most.
It’s sometimes family members’ attitudes about mental illness that can hurt us the most because they refuse to validate our mental illnesses. This can result in a constant tension between the ill person and the rest of the family.
This non-validation can also come from church family as well. There are many Christians who don’t accept that there is a difference between mental illness and spiritual sickness. The former has to do with the brain; the latter has to do with our inner heart.
What we are wanting and needing from others is validation of our mental illness and the very real pain we are in. It’s what we’re needing from friends and loved ones. The simple root word “valid” means just that. It’s another person saying to you that they hear what you are saying and that your thoughts and ideas about your life and your condition are valid. Probably the best way to express this is simply, “I believe you.”
So, why does it grate on us so much if people doubt our pain and our suffering?
We doubt ourselves. The most anxiety-producing thoughts are sometimes those in our own heads that deal with us being mentally ill and needing help. “What if I’m not really as sick as I think I am?” we ask ourselves. “What if they think I’m not sick?”
As mentioned previously, it’s often the people we respect and trust and who have a huge influence on us. We don’t want to disappoint them, especially if we already feel unlovable.
One important place we need to be validated is with our therapist or psychiatrist, or with our pastor. If they are questioning our integrity or minimizing things, it can fill us with fear and doubt. You should be treated with respect in your therapist’s office. This means you should expect your healthcare professional to validate you and the concerns you have about your illness.
One of the places where validation doesn’t always occur is our pastor’s office. This is because many pastors are yet unaware of mental illness and the way it can effect people. Or they are unaware of their place as spiritual advisors, not medical practitioners.
I have even heard of pastors advising mentally ill people to go off their meds, believing their needs to be spiritual only. This can create a dangerous situation for the person seeking to be ministered to, especially if they go off their meds without their doctor’s advice.
In the end, the truth is, we all crave validation. Try to remember to support the people in your life with mental illnesses by validating them as much as possible.