Saint Dymphna of Geel, patron of Runaways. Invoked for those seeking mental health and well-being. To Find Help, Care, Love, Kindness, Comfort, and Compassion.
Saint Dymphna’s mother’s name is not known, but her father was a pagan King named Damon. Her mother died when Dymphna was only a few years old. Dymphna’s father was apparently completely lost and inconsolable with his grief over the loss of his beautiful wife. So, it was decided he would find a new wife who looked just like her. He and his minions searched high and low and could find no one who matched his former wife’s standards.
When he returned home, he saw his daughter, Dymphna, looked nearly exactly like his beautiful wife so he made and drew some wild calculations and conclusions. This was the beginning of Dymphna’s troubles. Her father, an incestuous boor, decided he wanted Dymphna for his new bride, the only reason being was because she reminded him of his former wife, Dymphna’s mother!
This understandably caused Dymphna to have emotional problems and she quickly ran away from home with Saint Gerebernus, a local Court Jester and his wife. Dymphna spent most of her life trying to flee her father’s illicit pursuits. Eventually, he caught up with her and Gerebenus. He killed Gerebenus but Dymphna resisted him until he also brought about her death, by beheading her.
A cathedral was then built to honor Dymphna and soon it became known as a healing place for the mentally ill who took comfort there. In the town of Geel, the Flemish speaking part of Belgium near Antwerp, the people of the town welcome the mentally torn and disabled. They are often given jobs and they become valuable members of the community.
Saint Dymphna is celebrated to honor all of the mentally unstable and our mental health professionals – those who are thankfully answering the calls and helping to provide for the needs of the homeless and all who suffer various forms of mental illness.
Try to keep in mind that people who are facing emotional, mental and physical trauma, are often very shy and quiet. They are embarrassed and scared to talk because they worry that no one will listen and if they do listen, they will be judged harshly and with contempt.
If you do not have and “never had” any form of mental illness you are surely one of the most fortunate people to ever exist on earth. Yet, you will still know someone else who does have some form of mental illness. Try to listen more and become attuned to physical cues that might help you glean better understanding to help those struggling with mental illness.
If you or anyone you know may be suffering with mental debilitation, the Suicide & 988 Crisis Lifeline is a national network of local crisis centers that provides free and confidential emotional support to people in suicidal crisis or emotional distress 24 hours a day, 7 days a week in the United States.
And finally, if you are struggling emotionally and contemplating suicide, call someone. If that person can’t help you, call another. If that person can’t help you, go see another person. Keep looking and asking until you can find someone who will listen and try to help you. There are people who can help you.
There are people who will listen. Never ever, EVER give up!
You know I will soon be publishing a book about listening, learning, and loving, inspired by Marcel Proust. Heed his words:
"But sometimes illumination comes to our rescue at the very moment when all seems lost; we have knocked at every door and they open on nothing until, at last, we stumble unconsciously against the only one through which we can enter the kingdom we have sought in vain a hundred years - and it opens.”