Make TAWG Your Spiritual Connection to Mental Health. Part 3

Compassionate Love Blog: Displaying compassion for those who struggle with mental illness

(c)2016  Nancy Virden, Always the Fight Ministry

Helping hands

Learning to bask in the God’s felt presence, like resting in the warmth of the sun after a long winter, will change our negativity to a more hopeful outlook.  This is a promise worth exploring, and not a trite platitude. I will try to explain the difference.

What I am NOT saying:

Reading the Bible and praying more will cure or prevent mental illness.

Major depression and other mental disorders are directly linked to spiritual lack.

Not having ‘enough’ faith is why we suffer.

Negativity is automatically fixed by having devotions in the mornings or by going to church.

What I AM saying:

TAWG (Time Alone With God) heals our souls in numerous ways.  TAWG, as stated previously in this series, is not simply a matter of praying a few more minutes per day, or reading longer passages in the Bible at lunchtime.  TAWG is quality and quantity time devoted to a relationship with God. It is a discipline, yes, but is not regimented to a formula. It is not a chore.

TAWG is talking to God (prayer) and listening to his message to us. This message is primarily heard through reading and understanding the Bible. Reading is easy. If you find it difficult to understand, invest in a modernized language  version.  At this time if my life, I am reading the Recovery Bible. It is God’s Word in an easy-to-comprehend vocabulary (New Living Translation). It features  comments in the sidebars about applying verses and stories to addiction recovery issues. Strongly based on the Twelve Steps, it is an inspiring encouragement. Previous to receiving this Bible for Christmas three years ago, I read the English Standard Version, widely accepted as the closest translation to original manuscripts.

As we get more acquainted with God through his Son Jesus Christ, we witness him becoming less and more a mystery at the same time.  We learn to recognize his kindness, love, power and awe-inspiring,  make-me-speechless,  can-hardly-breathe,  words-are-not-enough enormity.  As we personally come to know more of who he actually is (and not only the rhetoric of the social commentators or even other believers), our faith grows, hope grows, and so does out peace.

That is a promise! I am not the only one making this guarantee. Psalm 19 reads, “The instructions of the Lord are perfect, reviving the soul. The decrees of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple. The commandments of the Lord are right, bringing joy to the heart.“*

Our inward negativity will dwindle. For me, it took major depression to get to therapy and be open to the fact I needed to change in fundamental ways.  Our inward change and how we think will not occur in a “zap”.  Wise counsel is important, even vital to seeing ourself differently.  If we struggle with a mental illness, medication may be part of our therapy.  Basking in God’s presence and receiving psychological help are not mutually exclusive. God chose that path to teach me how to live.

We can become adept at building others up.  This relationship with God will break strongholds, release spiritual gifts, and bring us peace and calm.  Our demeanor and speech will change. We will view difficult people differently. Fears will fade, and how we face mental and physical challenges will testify to our blossoming strength.

Devoting ourself to TAWG each day, gives us a taste of all that’s been described here. Our love for God will grow because it is his kindness that draws us to him.  We will notice when we miss one day. Everyone around us will notice too.

It’s a journey worth any price. Find a specific place (Mine is a chair in the bedroom; I keep a cross on it to serve as a reminder); a set time, and just begin.

He will meet you there.

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COMMENTS ARE ALWAYS WELCOME (see tab below)

NOTE: I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I speak only from personal experiences with and observations of mental illness. In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental health care.

If you are struggling emotionally today or feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Hope and help is yours.

– picture from Kozzi.com

*Holy Bible, New Living Translation ®, copyright © 1996, 2004 by Tyndale Charitable Trust. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers. All rights reserved.

Make TAWG Your Spiritual Connection to Mental Health. Part 2

Compassionate Love Blog: Displaying compassion for those who struggle with mental illness

(c)2016  Nancy Virden, Always the Fight Ministry

photo-25949488-printToday I finished editing the audio of my first internet radio show (I’m the host). It took three tries, and by that I mean my guest had to repeat her story three times. (Note to self: always start new projects with a friend).

I’ve been in training for this for the last five of some of the busiest weeks I’ve known to date. This pile of to-dos has been emotionally exhausting too, with a divorce and settlement in the mix. Needless to say, some of the details went unattended until the last-minute – hence, three tries.  It always pays to do the homework.

We can change only as far as our knowledge of a need for change, instruction how to change, and some understanding of what to change to is available. My situation with the radio show is simplistic. We all know life is full of complexities.

Some of us have been lied to since childhood. We have believed those lies because we do not know they are untrue. We walk in fear – of being unlovable, worthless, and devalued by everyone important to us.

We may pause each day for Time Alone With God (TAWG), know in our heads it is true God loves us, yet deep inside see his love as pity and not as passion for his child. Our worry centers on whether we are spending time enough to satisfy him, or doing TAWG right. We walk around in the cold dark, unaware of perfectly warm light, until something or someone pries open our eyelids.

Once we see a need for change, we may be clueless how it can happen, or what our required participation level is. Is TAWG simply a matter of spending 5, 15 30 minutes longer in prayer? Is it reading more verses or chapters in the Bible each day?

How does TAWG become personally meaningful?

When negative, false core beliefs such as “God’s love is only pity,” go unchallenged, how we interpret what we are reading is tainted. If we believe we are never good enough for example,  much of scripture nay come across as condemning. If the necessity of a deeper relationship with God escapes us, we won’t know what to do to begin to care about it.

We hear sermons, read blogs, and listen as Christian believers talk about TAWG. As long as we are not learning how to change our mindset, these messages will go unheeded. TAWG will remain a last resort and less effective as the ultimate change agent we need.

 

***** COMMENTS ALWAYS WELCOME (see tab below)  NOTE: I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I speak only from personal experiences with and observations of mental illness. In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental health care.

If you are struggling emotionally today or feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Hope and help are yours.

*pictures from qualitystockphotos.com

 

Make TAWG Your Spiritual Connection to Mental Health. Part 1

 

Compassionate Love Blog: Displaying compassion for those who struggle with mental illness

(c)2016  Nancy Virden, Always the Fight Ministry

when i am old...Mental health is…

The joy of getting exactly what you wanted at Christmas?

Excitement over a new job?

Absence of stress?

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)*, only about 17% of adults in America are in a state of optimal mental health. Ah! The secret is out!

Oh wait, we already knew something was not quite right with the human race, did we not? Even Peanuts** characters tried to suggest what “happiness is…”.  Lucy thought she could just toss advice around and solve anyone’s psychiatric problems (for 5 cents nonetheless!)

My therapist (who is not a Peanuts character and charges more than 5 cents, by the way) mentioned recently that we are not taught as children how to think, nor how to control our thoughts. Usually these lessons come painfully through the school of hard knocks.

The CDC website goes on to describe mental health:

Mental health is a state of well-being in which the individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community.

Well-being, faith, peace, calm, comfort in knowing you can make it through, courage despite fear, strength despite weakness – these are ultimately gifts from God that we can choose to accept, reject, practice, or deny. Often, we do not know how to embrace them. Mental illness disrupts our choice process, too. I always say depressive episodes mess with my thinking, not my faith.

Grasping well-being through faith is not something we are all that skilled at doing on our own. That is because faith is nothing if we do not have dependence on God. For those of us who believe God is sovereign, wants to interact with us, and is accessible to us, time alone with God (TAWG) is foundational to that healthy dependency.

Born-again Christians (those of us who trust our eternal salvation to Jesus Christ) everywhere, try to practice TAWG. We tend to grow kinder, more humble, and more forgiving, to have more backbone, and strength through trials when we spend quality and quantity time with God. It is said that if we miss one day of this discipline, God notices. When we miss two days, we notice it ourself. Miss three days of TAWG, and everyone around us notices!

A sense of well-being is more robust when are not lonely. It is more tangible when we feel grounded and safe. It makes sense then, that I and many others find solace in TAWG. It is also in these private moments that I am reminded to use the coping skills and thinking strategies that help me to manage my major depression.

TAWG is not only one-way prayer; it is a conversation. It is reading the Bible in search of knowing God, becoming knowledgable of his message to us, repenting and changing, learning to know God’s voice, and obeying what he says.

Moses spent 40 days on the mountain with God. When he came down, everyone knew who he had been with. His face was shining. Ask yourself, are you the type of person that people would notice a difference if you skipped TAWG for a few days? Would you notice?

********

COMMENTS ARE ALWAYS WELCOME (see tab below)

NOTE: I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I speak only from personal experiences with and observations of mental illness. In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental health care.

If you are struggling emotionally today or feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Hope and help is yours.

 

*http://www.cdc.gov/

** http://www.gocomics.com/collection/1626945?utm_source=blog&utm_medium=socialmarketing&utm_content=peanutshappinessis-collections

Suicide On the Rise; How to Respond to the New “Big C”

Compassionate Love Blog: Displaying compassion for those who struggle with mental illness

(c)2016  Nancy Virden, Always the Fight Ministry

Lonely sad girl on the dark beach

Three young people attempted suicide in the last seven days. One died.

These are not numbers on a page, percentages, or anomalies; each are close to people I know. Three in one week, in my small corner of the world.

Suicide is the second cause of death for ages 10-24 in the U.S.A.  Two years ago, it was the third.  In Ohio, suicide is the first cause of death for children from 10 to 14 years old. In America, suicide statistically takes a life every 13 minutes.

Are you shaking your head wondering if you read that right? You did. Suicide rates are climbing, and as it is for cancer, education is the foundation to prevention.

In the 1970s, people said “The Big C” in reference to cancer. No one wanted to talk about it. It was a dreary topic, spoken of in hushed tones.  Cancer was fodder for accusations of too little faith, or too much misbehavior. There was gossip with little understanding. People who suffered from cancer did not venture into public often.

Education has changed all that. We all go for exams, and research dollars have produced better treatments and earlier diagnosis. Public conversation about cancer continues to save lives.

Ah, if only suicide and mental illness had the same kind of back story. Imagine if we would talk about mental disorders and diseases with as much realism, non-judgmental acceptance, and compassion as we do cancer.

What if? People of all ages would not be ashamed to have regular mental health check-ups. We would know and talk about common symptoms. When we recognized an oncoming episode of depression for instance, instead of  saying, “snap out of it,” we would support each other in helpful ways.

What if? Our socially accepted practice would be to take mental health seriously. Insurance companies would fully cover psychological needs instead of limiting treatment to a dismally low number of office visits or days spent in hospital.

What if? Treatment and housing would be available for homeless people with mental illness. This is not because of charity, but because we would finally connect the relationship between cognitive and physical challenges that mental illnesses cause, and one’s functionality.  We would stop blaming “choice” and start giving helpless people real options.

Use your imagination. Ah, what if?

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COMMENTS ARE ALWAYS WELCOME (see tab below)

NOTE: I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I speak only from personal experiences with and observations of mental illness. In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental health care.

If you are struggling emotionally today or feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Hope and help is yours.

– picture from Kozzi.com

I Care About Someone With a Troubled Past. What Can I Do to Help?

Compassionate Love Blog: Displaying compassion for those who struggle with mental illness

(c)2016  Nancy Virden, Always the Fight Ministry

 

Closeup portrait of two attractive middle-aged female friends chatting in the park in a healthy lifestyle concept

Love

Honesty

Safety

Common sense

These terms no doubt mean something to you. Perhaps they draw up comfortable and happy memories. Maybe they remind you of what you never had. These are motivating words representing goals most of us like the idea of reaching. They are also concepts beyond reality for some people .

The Challenge: When we speak of love, our intentions fall within a range from the trite (“I love tacos”) to near impossible-to-describe profoundness (“I love my child”).

What if you had never seen displayed, or received family love? Emotionally or otherwise neglected children need help learning how to relate and trust. Without that help, and no framework to identify healthy relationships, it is quite possible a good-hearted adult will miss out.

How to Support this Person: Be an example of unconditional love. This does not mean allowing unsettling behaviors to go unaddressed. In fact, love this person enough to have boundaries. Through gentle communication, show the beauty of love – that it does not abuse, take advantage, play the doormat, or endorse bad behavior. Instead, it builds up, hopes for the best, and has the other person’s best interests at heart.

The Challenge: Just how is one who has been dealt dishonesty throughout childhood or beyond supposed to recognize trustworthiness? Kind people may try to invest in victims who have been lied to or betrayed most of their life, but positive messages fall short. This is because the languages of truth and trust are not understood.

How to Support this Person: Be faithful. Have boundaries. Never lie. Say what you mean and mean what you say. Carefully avoid making foolish promises. Give it time, even years.

The Challenge: We often hear during send-offs or even in therapeutic situations the concerned sentiment, “Be safe.” It means different things in varying contexts. If a formally abused individual does not know safety exists, how is she or he supposed to self-protect in practical ways?

How to Support this Person: Teach them in word and by example that safety is our right and often our responsibility. While we cannot predict every scenario, we can be basically prepared.  Teach this person to take his or her time in choosing emotionally safe friends. Provide information on how to draw healthy, not fear-producing, physical and emotional protections in relationships and situations. If you need help with this, ask for it.

The Challenge: Common sense may be elusive when a person has not been taught healthy ways of thinking, is emotionally incapable of moving beyond chaos, or whose circumstances have typically been manipulated on the vicarious whims of others.

How to Support this Person: Instead of pointing fingers and judging, try something constructive. You may help to change a life. First, set an example. Then gently encourage critical thinking. For instance, “What will be the result if you do such ‘n such?” “What do you want? Will this decision take you closer to your goal?” “What kind of person do you want to be, and what decisions today will help you be that kind of person?”  “Has this [behavior] worked in the past to help you or hurt you?”

None of us knows what we do not know. Everything we know has been at some point, taught to us. Investing in the future of another person looks different from self-righteousness, criticism, or superior assumptions of our knowledge.

Instead, change comes when we humbly accept the fact we are all learning. With this attitude we will change within, and become the kind of people able to lift others.

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COMMENTS ARE ALWAYS WELCOME (see tab below)

NOTE: I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I speak only from personal experiences with and observations of mental illness. In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental health care.

If you are struggling emotionally today or feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Hope and help is yours.

– picture from Kozzi.com

Stay Tuned: Compassionate Love Radio Is On Its Way With Raw Stories and Truth

Compassionate Love Blog: Displaying compassion for those who struggle with mental illness

(c)2016  Nancy Virden, Always the Fight Ministry

Danita is a survivor of marital rape.

Her oh-so-charming, suit-wearin’ and church attendin’ husband had for years secretly undermined his wife by practicing what is best known as “gaslighting.”

Gaslighting is a confounding behavior that leaves spouses and significant others questioning their own judgment, intelligence, and value. Gaslighting occurs when an abuser purposely creates confusing or negative scenarios to confuse the intended victim, thus setting up an opportunity to ridicule, blame, lie, or appear the hero. As in all abuse, gaslighting is about power and control.

Danita never suspected he would resort to physical harm. One of the lesser understood characteristics of abuse is that it progresses. Danita’s husband’s obsession with power and control over his wife turned into violence and violation. Now Danita is eager to confront the stigma and religious tradition that helps keep women like her in the shadows.

Wednesday August 24, 2016, as the first guest on CompassionateLove Radio, Danita will openly share her story with the world. You do not want to miss it!

CompassionateLove Radio is a new satellite and internet radio show, hosted by yours truly on CDPro Radio. CompassionateLove Radio promises to expose scary and hopeful realities behind the taboo topics of mental illness, substance abuse, depression, anxiety, suicide, and more. Guests will reveal stories that challenge stigma. 

The number one common concern I have heard from those struggling with a mental disorder is the lack of support they feel from family, friends, workplaces, and churches. I believe fear is the backbone of judgment, and insight is the root of love in truth.  It is a goal of this show to offer knowledge and insight so that we can each up our game in the “love your neighbor” department.

24/7 access: http://nhouseproductionandrecording.com/compassionate-love-radio/

Courage for the helpless, comfort for the hopeless, and dynamic eye-opening moments for everyone else –

that is

CompassionateLove Radio.

COMING Wednesday August 24, 2016!

24/7 access:  http://nhouseproductionandrecording.com/compassionate-love-radio/

 

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COMMENTS ARE ALWAYS WELCOME (see tab below)

NOTE: I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I speak only from personal experiences with and observations of mental illness. In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental health care.

If you are struggling emotionally today or feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Hope and help is yours.

– picture from Kozzi.com

 

Suicidal Intent is Revealed in Writing (And Not Just In Suicide Notes)

 

Compassionate Love Blog: Displaying compassion for those who struggle with mental illness

(c)2016  Nancy Virden, Always the Fight Ministry

Note TakingThe use of linguistics software to predict a writer’s suicidal tendencies is an interesting tool. By analyzing word usage, the software can shed light on patterns and themes, revealing more than the writer may have intended. In fact, this science is already in use with impressive results. However, the system can be beat, and suicidal people can lie.  Computers cannot compensate for sudden and drastic drops in mood, intermittent despair, or impulsivity.

Leakage” is what we observe when a person sends warning signals, and “leaks” dark feelings through writing.  The term “Violent Writing”, explains some such themes. Violent Writing is:

“Autobiographical or fictional … writings or other renditions (drawings, doodles, song lyrics, artistic print or paintings, etc.) containing descriptions of physical force or dangerous behavior against oneself or others resulting in physical, mental, or emotional harm, and potentially indicative of violent or aggressive impulses that warrant closer attention by school, legal, or mental health professionals.”*

Unfortunately, outside of a direct threat of suicide, there do not seem to be any keywords that indicate with certainty a suicide attempt is imminent. Here are some themes that call for our attention.

Writing about suicide, justifying suicide, or idealizing suicide victims

Writing about death or dying in a way that suggests preoccupation.

Depressed and suicidal people are more self-focused. Research tells us their writings will likely contain more “I” statements, fewer words about the collective, more words about the author.  1st person.

Direct threats of suicide or negativity and morbid or dark thoughts centered on one’s death or upcoming disappearance.

Conveying goodbye, last wishes, putting affairs in order

  • “You won’t be seeing me around anymore”
  • “If [such-n-such] happens, I’ll kill myself.”
  • “If [such-n-such] doesn’t happen, I’ll kill myself.”
  • “I’m going home.”
  • “Here, take this. I won’t need it anymore.”
  • “If anything happens to me, I know you will be nice to my sister.”

Expressing despair, hopelessness, lack of solution to a problem, wish to escape

  • “I can’t go on”
  • “I wish I was dead”
  • “There’s only one way out”
  • “There’s nothing good in my future.”
  • “I’m tired of living”
  • I want to die to be with [so-n-so]

Expressing regret without hope, ‘my presence is a problem’

  • “I used to be happy. I’ll never be that person again.”
  • “No one will miss me if I am gone.”
  • “I’m just trouble. [People or person] will be better off without me”

Describing revenge or martyrdom (dying for any cause)

  • “They’ll be sorry when I’m gone.”
  • “When I’m gone, she will have to care.”
  • “If I die, mom will believe me and kick him out. Then my sister will be safe.”

It is a myth that if someone talks (writes) about suicide, they will not go through with an attempt. For one thing, maybe a suicidal person is still deciding.  Perhaps he or she is sending a message asking for help.  KidsHealth.org reads, “We need to know what a cry for help sounds like.  Even if it’s a whisper.”

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COMMENTS ARE ALWAYS WELCOME (see tab below)

NOTE: I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I speak only from personal experiences with and observations of mental illness. In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental health care.

If you are struggling emotionally today or feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Hope and help is yours.

– picture from Kozzi.com

* From “Creative Crisis.  An English Teacher’s Testimony of the Violent Writing of Youth” as recorded by Lori Brown and Frederick Buskey in the Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy in September 2014

 

 

What About Children Who Die By Suicide?

Compassionate Love Blog: Displaying compassion for those who struggle with mental illness

(c)2016  Nancy Virden, Always the Fight Ministry

Muddy Shoes

We grieve when children lose their innocence by the unconscionable acts of selfish people. It hurts us to see our young suffer with cancer or hunger or any number of circumstances out of their control. It breaks our hearts when they cry out in pain.

As members of society we look to governments, churches, and schools to solve these issues, to save the children. As parents we are tempted to shake some reason into other parents who seem to vacillate between ignoring basic discipline or controlling their children too much.

The reason we have these reactions is children tug at our softest emotions. It is their dependence on us as adults that makes us feel responsible for the outcomes of their lives.  In short, we care.

Somehow, it bypasses our thinking that children can suffer depression and despair severely enough to take their own lives. In fact, when that happens, parents are usually blamed. We struggle to comprehend how a child could feel so deeply or process the idea of suicide without some terrible outside influence.

The most important thing to remember is that suicide is most often due to an undiagnosed and untreated mental disorder. Mental disorders do not appear to discriminate between age groups. As a matter of fact, half of those who have a mental disorder will show signs of it by the age of fourteen! That is half of millions in America alone.

Many children are dealing with a mental illness that interferes with their daily ability to function. Most go untreated because we have the idea that children are moody, temperamental, and immature. Their emotions and expressions of hopelessness are brushed off with well-intentioned platitudes like, “Get a good night’s sleep. You’ll feel better in the morning” or “Of course you’re fine – Jimmy is coming to play tomorrow.”

I meet many survivors of suicide loss. No matter how long ago a relative, friend, co-worker, or any significant person took their own life, each survivor has a lingering question. Why?

Imagine then the insurmountable sorrow of a parent whose child dies by suicide. Shame, guilt, fear of reprisal, and other stigma related issues often keep these parents in the shadows. They may refer to their child’s death as an accident, or “they died in their sleep.” Some do not answer truthfully the inevitable question from strangers, “How many children do you have?” “Why?”haunts their dreams.

In this post alone are 5 reasons that learning and talking about mental illness and suicide is crucial to our society:

  1. Each of us have the opportunity to save lives if we understand and do not condemn those in emotional or mental crisis.
  2. Parents can know what to look for in their children and respond more effectively to signs of depression and suicide.
  3. Children can be taught when to recognize dark thoughts, and shown who the safe people to reach out to are: trained teacher, school counselors or nurses, etc.  They will receive professional treatment which is nearly always successful.
  4. Treatment will become available and affordable when our conversation around mental health and illness is based on factual knowledge. Depression left untreated tends to get worse as time goes on. Early intervention saves adult lives as well.
  5. Survivors of suicide loss will receive support instead of odd looks and withdrawal by those who know the situation. They can “go public” with their stories and thus pass on inspiration and hope to other families and children.

Do you see? Knowledge is power, and this power saves lives.

Compassionate love learns.

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COMMENTS ARE ALWAYS WELCOME (see tab below)

NOTE: I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I speak only from personal experiences with and observations of mental illness. In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental health care.

If you are struggling emotionally today or feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Hope and help is yours.

– picture from Kozzi.com

 

 

 

 

 

5 Simple (Not Easy) Ways to Successfully Manage Stress

Compassionate Love Blog: Displaying compassion for those who struggle with mental illness

(c)2016  Nancy Virden, Always the Fight Ministry

 

photo-24714732-stressed-businessmanJamal feels as if everything is coming at him at once. Major decisions overwhelm him at times. College, romance, difficulty in the home – all seem to have conspired to pile pressure on pressure until he cannot sleep.  Jamal will benefit from learning to manage stress in a helpful fashion.

Change is hard. Even if it is for the positive, change is hard. These six steps will lead you to more peace if you follow them diligently. Allow yourself time for this to progress. You will see and feel evidence of relief as you learn to manage stress more effectively.

1.  Name what you want.  All too often we pass through a day without real focus. We check off our to-do list and then go to bed.  For some, whole lifetimes go by this way.  What if you focus on your values and set goals by them?

To manage stress, it helps to have a positive view of yourself and your purpose.  What kind of person do you want to be?  Consider each area of life that is important to you. These could include family, career, success, personality, behavior – name your values and write them down.

Write down goals that support your values.  For example,  as an at-home mom my wardrobe was casual and comfortable. As a mental health and recovery advocate, I value influencing growth in how people perceive these issues.  One goal based on that value is to invest in a professional appearance. This lowers stress because I have more confidence in how I come across, and even in myself.

Both short-term and long-term goals can guide your decisions. Naming your values and goals based on those values, lowers stress as purpose daily replaces aimlessness.

2.  List what is and is not within your control.  External events are not under our control. Neither are other people.  By carrying the impossible burden of trying to manage circumstances and persons, we add loads of unnecessary stress onto our shoulders.  What if you let go?

Ginger is afraid to let go because she  is convinced everything and everyone will fall apart if she does.  Yes, letting go is a change that affects all concerned, and change is hard. Nonetheless, it is doable!  Over time, people will adjust to the new you.  They will pick up their rightful responsibility to decide for themselves what they want and who they want to be.

Circumstances happen. Life happens. By letting go we loose our minds and bodies from the chains of control. We are healthier when we accept life on life’s terms. Gaon freedom by refusing to repeat past events or worries about the future in your head or aloud. Refocus on what is now.

Each of us controls how we react to situations and people.  Reflect on those values you wrote down; what kind of person do you want to be? Shape your thoughts around the answer to that question. Allow yourself and others to be human.  Jesus said, “Forgive them for they know not what they are doing.”  Forgive yourself for not knowing what to do. Begin fresh today and each day.

3.  Exercise boundaries. We decide what we will allow into our lives, so learn to say no to what is not producing life or strength. Boundaries are not about stopping another person. They are about drawing lines around ourself and refusing entrance to harmful negativity.

Courtney finally grew the courage to stand up for herself and say “No more!” Years of trying to make her abusive husband change his behavior, failed.  By deciding what she would no longer accept, she ended the marriage. Think, what do I want in my life? If you want negative or abusive relationships, then by all means let someone mistreat you. I do not believe that is what you want.

4.  Practice physical and emotional self-care. Our bodies need sleep, appropriate food, healthy fluids, movement, and hygiene. By ignoring any of these we set up defeat.  Do what your doctor tells you to do. Without a functioning body you will experience more stress.

For Josh, changing his self-talk is  crucial to self-care. He recognizes how harmful negative judgements are when they come from other people. He is learning to care for his emotional needs by refusing to use damaging words against himself.

Expecting the worst is a form of self-destruction.  Most of what we imagine could happen, never does.  What if instead of worrying, you turned your thoughts to solutions?  If your workload is heavy and deadlines are pressing, think,  I can do one task at a time, one day at a time.

5. Ask for help. Not one of us can do this alone. Guidance, encouragement, and support from people you trust will relieve stress. Accountability, mentoring, and medical or mental help are three possible ways you can grow from the help of others. Friendships with emotionally and physically safe people are how we know we are not alone.

Caleb attended a support group for persons with anxiety disorder.  When he heard stories similiar to his own, he was surprised that his thoughts were not all that strange. Shared experiences boosted his confidence.  Having the perspective he gained through this group aided Caleb in managing his disorder.

“Today can be the ‘someday’ I’ve always wanted. There isn’t enough time in these twenty-four hours to do everything I’d hoped to do, but there is time to start making my dreams come true.” -Al Anon.

 

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COMMENTS ARE ALWAYS WELCOME (see tab below)

NOTE: I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I speak only from personal experiences with and observations of mental illness. In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental health care.

If you are struggling emotionally today or feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Hope and help is yours.

– picture from Kozzi.com

 

Full Circle: A Week of Miracles Part Three

Compassionate Love Blog: Displaying compassion for those who struggle with mental illness

(c)2016  Nancy Virden, Always the Fight Ministry

IMG_20160419_130624People who are proud of our midwest state and cities, and who will strike up conversation with anyone; home of Rock ‘n Roll, the birthplace of aviation pioneers Orville and Wilbur Wright, John Glenn, and Neil Armstrong, and eight U.S. Presidents; cornfields; Lake Erie; mid-size “big” cities and small towns; die-hard sport fans and this year’s NBA Championship; and more cornfields – that’s Ohio in a buckeye nut shell.

Of course there is much more, and during the Republican National Convention (RNC) this past week, the world saw the finest city Ohio has to offer – Cleveland. Yes, I am biased. Cleveland is my home, where I raised my children, and where I fit in.

Having spent six years out of my element, I learned how sweet home really is. No one looks at me funny when I strike up a lively conversation with a stranger. I can say y’all and you’zns without anyone acting like I need a better education.  It’s OK to wear a lampshade to church (odd hat party), to offer a gift card I cannot use to an acquaintance without committing an offense,  and to borrow eggs from my neighbor. This is my culture. Home.

In years past, opportunities to volunteer in Ohio have included working with people of all ages, particularly children. For years I prayed for these people, for my city, and for how I could make a difference. My prayers did not stop while away. I left a Cleveland that was struggling to survive. In the economic downturn of 2008, Cleveland was hard hit with an unemployment rate upwards of 10%. When I came back, Cleveland was building, and had scored the RNC.

IMG_20160619_100507Many people I know, and plenty I do not know pray for Cleveland regularly. I am but one of tens of thousands who believe in a literal God, a Heavenly Father who hears and answers earnest prayer. In the weeks before the RNC, there were gatherings of like-minded believers who interceded in prayer for the safety of our people during the upcoming convention.

Thousands gathered at the Wolstein Center on Saturday July 16. Prayer groups gathered at key spots around the city to declare victory over violence on Sunday night. As one can see on videos and in news reports, people prayed with protesters, police officers, and bystanders. Countless others prayed at home and in churches.

The police were united, and well-trained and positioned. Our police chief prayed with an angry protester. Christian believers deescalated conflicts. It’s never a good idea to mix anger and alcohol, and bars that expected heavy crowds into the wee hours closed early. Clubs had slow business.  Accomodation for hundreds of offenders was prepared, but there were only 27 arrests.

Leaders of protest groups have said they could not get their people to come out.  The city was peaceful, outside troublemakers stayed away, and Cleveland was spared. Believe what you will, but as for me, I will continue to pray for my city.

This is full-circle and meaningful to me. I went away unhealthy and consumed with negative false beliefs about myself and the world. Cleveland was suffering and despairing with its people speaking of hopelessness. This summer, I am renewed as is my city.

Cleveland is not perfect. Racial tensions can be tough here. Forty years of busing seems to have had an adverse effect.  This is a largely segregated city with Cleveland more or less divided in half. Prayers going up for Cleveland are not only to prevent violence during the RNC, but to heal and unite our citizenry.  I believe in hope because I believe in prayer.

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COMMENTS ARE ALWAYS WELCOME (see tab below)

NOTE: I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I speak only from personal experiences with and observations of mental illness. In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental health care.

If you are struggling emotionally today or feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Hope and help is yours.

– picture from Kozzi.com

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