God, Served On a Platter of Silver and Marinated in Honey Mustard Sauce

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

(c)2016  Nancy Virden, Always the Fight Ministry

foodToday’s extra edition of this blog is a diversion from the usual conversation about mental illness. There is much rhetoric about religion and God these days. Apparently, according to public discourse, he is who we want him to be. He is “God, as we understand him.”

He is a hungry lion, ready to pounce on the weakest member of the flock. He is a snake, slithering through our existence looking to swallow us whole. He is a flighty genie with a propensity toward trickery, and on again-off again willingness to grant our wishes. He is a planet or star, distant and uninvolved with the matters of earth. He is a changeling, transforming indiscriminately into trees, the sun, love and peace, and the goodwill of humanity. He speaks through channeling, the whisper of the wind, in signs and wonders, in our “Light within.” He is anything and everything we think we need him to be – even nonexistent.

He is made-to-order, custom designed, distinct from us only in that he is our product. We are his creators, his kings and queens, and lords. We expect him to obey us. When he does not satisfy our cravings, we exact punishments of silent treatment, angry rants, unrelenting bitterness, and even revenge. We ignore and belittle him. His name is a curse word usually surrounded by profanity. He is our whipping-boy, sometimes physically manifested in those who have formed him differently than we. We take our anger out on their bodies, minds, and opinions.

God is minimal in our thinking. If we remember him at all, we are probably busy reshaping him into something more useful or throwing him out for a the newest shiny object on the market. Our time is spent pursuing unconditional love from human relationships, money, food, alcohol, partying, television, pornography, gambling, opioids, education, good deeds, work, busyness, and smart technology. We strive for excellence, peace of mind, and safety. Our government leaders are our saviors. When these efforts fail to meet our needs, we blame that ever-available scape goat, God.

We laugh at the old-fashioned, delusional idea of an all-loving, holy, wrathful and merciful HE. His sovereignty is mocked. We celebrate humanity despite its failure at justice since the beginning of time. The concept of a Son of God confuses us, so we claim to all be God’s children. In our fear of giving up control, we rationalize that every religion worships the same god.

God is served up on a silver platter and marinated in a comfortable combination of sweet honey and bitter mustard.  He is not to require anything of us. Same as our dinner does not talk back and exists only to sustain, nourish, and entertain, so does God. We select only the most famous chefs and the loudest food critics as our advisors.

God cannot be our source of life. He is not the Great I AM. He did not send his Son, born of a virgin, to live a sinless life, and die a horrible death. Jesus’ blood does not mean anything, and certainly does not have the power to save us from guilt and shame. No way did this good teacher, lunatic, or liar rise from the dead! Eternal life is a farce – after all, it is much more fun to think about partying in hell than to actually burn there.

Christians are dumb, uneducated, brain-washed fools whose life experiences with God are hallucinations, or manifestations of an inner wish. The Bible is a terrible report card that exposes a tyrannical, treacherous, sick, perverted, and ruthless God. It is not God-breathed or useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting or training in right living.

We are not sinners in need of a Savior! We are good and not-so-good citizens. We are imperfect and wonderful. No one has the right to judge our choices or attitude, or question our claims, unless the one being criticized is one of those ignorant Christians. Tolerance covers every possible human decision except the one to follow Christ.

Yes, we like God the way we like him. Servant. Miracle-worker. Malleable. Powerless. Cheap.

We do not want to admit our perceived grasp on control is false. Our wisdom comforts us even as it leads to spiritual death. We sing our songs of self-glory and chant for our rights. We. Will. Not. Surrender. To. God. No way.

Pass the sauce.

Today’s Helpful Word

Hebrews 2: 9,10  NLT

“Yes, by God’s grace, Jesus tasted death for everyone. God, for whom and through whom everything was made, chose to bring many children into glory. And it was only right that he should make Jesus, through his suffering, a perfect leader, fit to bring them into salvation.”

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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 by Gabriella Fabbri . RGBstock.com

 

 

3 Steps to Setting Goals that Fit

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

(c)2016  Nancy Virden, Always the Fight Ministry

photo-24758449-illustrated-image-of-question-mark-sign.Most people live according to their circumstances. You may want to rise above that trap but not know how to start. These 3 steps will put you on your way.

Set aside time for this exploration.  Unless you are living by yourself, your home is full of the busyness of other people coming and going, and asking for your time. Of course, our homes have all the other distractions too – that table piled with things to do, cleaning and errands that call our name, escape mechanisms and entertainment, and more.

You’ve heard of the concept of the urgent taking over the important. Our mental and spiritual health can take a back seat to the clamor about us.  Get away from the noise and other obligations for a designated length of time. Take a weekend retreat, have a friend hold your phone for a day, or take a picnic to a secluded spot. However you accomplish this, do it alone.

During this time, think about the patterns of your life. When have you been at your happiest? What tends to bring you peace of mind? What are you doing when you feel the most like yourself?

We may feel joy around a special person or wish for certain circumstances, however we have no control over other people’s choices or external events. Focus on your inner experiences and not on what may or may not happen around you. The point is not to erase relationships from this process, but rather to discover who you are apart from them.

Ask for insight. People who know you well and care about your future are helpful resources. Ask them what patterns they have observed. When have they seen you at your happiest? Is there something important they see you neglecting for the sake of the urgent? What aspect of your persona do they believe is most genuine?

Have a deep conversation with God. Don’t know how? Acknowledge he exists and is sovereign. We are his works of art and he is deeply invested in who we are.  This is a relationship. He deeply desires to show us his unfailing love, and made a way for us to connect with him through the sacrifice of his Son Jesus. Start there. Then ask God to show you who you are at your core.

Write it down! Mark a piece of paper with three columns. In the first column list your current commitments. Family, friends, making a living, mental health, recovery, relationship with God, 8 hours of sleep per night, healthy eating and behaviors, and whatever else you know is necessary to your wellbeing will go in this column.

In the second column, write what you learned about yourself while doing steps 1 and 2. Who are you deep inside? What brings you joy?

The third column is for answering the question, “What is ‘extra’ in my life (not in the first two columns)?”  Only list them without placing judgment.

Finally, you are on your way to setting those goals that fit!  You get to choose what kind of person you want to be and what steps you can take toward becoming that person.  Blockades to what you want may include changing how you make your living.  Tough relationships may need counseling, or maybe it’s time to say ‘no more’. Long and short-term goals chosen according to these steps will benefit your relationships, increase your productivity, lessen your stress, and give you the most you can get out of life.

One Final Note: Avoid using pre-determined definitions of success and measures of productivity. Your goals are custom-made.

Today’s Helpful Word

Psalm 32:8
The Lord says, “I will guide you along the best pathway for your life.  I will advise you and watch over you.”

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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

 

Cross Your Line Between “Stuck” and “Growth”

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

(c)2016  Nancy Virden, Always the Fight Ministry

photo-24747927-downcast-womanNila believes.

Kyrian believes.

Even Rusty believes, but hopefully not.

Nila lost her temper on the job in an occupation where losing control is especially frowned upon. Consequently, she was sent to anger management classes and therapy for depression. It was in the latter that I heard her speak of her troubles and desire for peace.

Something was missing, though. It seemed that week after week for months, her story remained the same. She mentioned a painful, difficult relationship that grew worse when she yelled. Any suggestion she stop yelling was met with agreement, followed by no change.

Change is hard. We all struggle with it. Nila’s experience was not unusual in that it was complex – fixing her relationship was not her job alone. Nevertheless, her lack of movement was not because there was nowhere to go. I witnessed her unwillingness to try.

Kyrian is spending his life in front of his television. His opportunities include higher education, social circles that want him, and a decent job that pays the bills. Yet he avoids school and friends, choosing instead a pattern of work, TV, sleep, and repeat. Occasionally Kyrian expresses dissatisfaction.

Social anxiety and Generalized Anxiety Disorder are not simple nervousness or unwillingness to reach beyond shyness. They are in fact characterized by episodes of paralyzing fear. Overcoming them is to reject everything one’s body and brain are saying.  Fight, Flight, or Freeze become daily choices.

Kyrian used to say he wants more for his life. He has defeated many fears in the past. Lately though, he says he is content. I believe he is tired of stretching his limits.

Rusty’s eyes barely lifted. He was ashamed and humiliated by his father who abused him with vicious words. At the time I knew him, Rusty was a child who still had a little light in his eyes. Years later, I wonder about adult Rusty and whether he is ever able to see himself in the mirror without hearing his father’s lies. I hope he has learned his value is not defined by a bitter man.

Nila believes she is a victim. It has become her identity. Kyrian believes he is defeated by anxiety. Rusty may believe he is a nothing. I hope not.

The line between “stuck” and “growth” is drawn at the point of decision. Will we be teachable? Will we accept responsibility for our own wellness? Will we crucify the lies and search for the truth?

Therapy is only as effective as the client’s decision to participate in healing. It may be a slow process, however each step forward is a positive choice.

It was not until I was in my early fifties that I understood God loves me as the perfect Father who cherishes his daughter. Prior to that I believed I was a disappointment, and that God only loved me out of pity. I had interpreted Scriptures that speak of God’s unfailing love through a lens of fear.

Finally, from the bottom of the darkest pit of hopelessness, I had to look up and admit maybe I didn’t know everything. People were able to teach me the truth because I decided to learn.

No one has to stay stuck.

Today’s Helpful Word

Proverbs 8:8-11
All the words of my mouth are just; none of them is crooked or perverse.
To the discerning all of them are right; they are faultless to those who have knowledge.
Choose my instruction instead of silver, knowledge rather than choice gold,
for wisdom is more precious than rubies, and nothing you desire can compare with her.
-Wisdom of Jesus

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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

Invisibility Revealed: You Are Not Alone In a Crowd

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

(c)2016  Nancy Virden, Always the Fight Ministry

photo-25675949-printRecently on America’s Got Talent, a young magician tried to convince us he could turn invisible. His costumewhich was painted to look like bricks, was an epic fail even as he stood in front of a brick wall. Turns out he was joking, and only attempting to divert our attention. His invisibility trick fooled no one, although one might say we could see right through him!

Today I interviewed a man who believes he successfully hid his alcohol and crack cocaine use from his family and friends. This may be true because addicts are good pretenders. However, we all are great at acting and putting on a quite a show!

Who hasn’t put on a happy face and kept dark secrets tucked away? Each of us has a front. We make our first impressions usually by being the most acceptable we can be in the moment, then spend the rest of our time trying to keep up the standard we portrayed. While we can overuse the concept of tact and propriety, there is the opposite extreme of blurting every little thing that pops in one’s head. The middle ground is where honesty and humility meet.

Secrets tie us back. We find ourselves unable to move from the past, from behind the mask, and from lies that prevent peace of mind. “We are only as sick as out secrets,”  is a line heard sometimes in therapeutic circles.  We walk among crowds feeling alone. In our homes we think we are invisible.  In relationships we are dissatisfied. We feel emotionally unsafe.

Our secrets make us lonely.  We believe, “No one really knows me. If they did, they wouldn’t accept me.” Sometimes we become manipulators (without knowing it), striving for proof that we matter. We turn to work, food, drinking, pornography, self-righteousness, television, drugs, and other escapes to forget the past and to deny our desperation.

We think we are the only one.  Wrong.

These issues are common. We are looking so intently at our pain we miss the fact that nearly everyone is experiencing the same invisibility and disappointment!  It is not a world where everyone is happy but one.  If I had a dollar for every time someone says to me, “You seem to be doing great…” based on what they see on Facebook, I’d have a fast-growing savings account.  We compare everyone’s outsides with the secrets and pain we feel on the inside. It’s an unfair comparison. You know why?

That is because secrets make us feel invisible. If we are holding back our true selves, why do we so easily assume other people are being open? Generally speaking, people stay locked up behind the “I’m fine” facade.

We have choices. Here are a few of them:

  • To get professional help
  • To work at slowly developing safe friendships
  • To find like-minded people in support groups
  • To open-up with wisdom, carefully choosing someone you know will not judge.  (Therapists can be a good option here.)

An amazing thing happens when we start to reveal our fears and secrets. People who struggle in the same way find us. One of the first lines you will hear is, “Me too.”

Invisibility will vanish, and you will see you have never been alone.

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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

CompassionateLove Radio- Guest Shares on Suicide and ED

unnamedMilena is a beautiful young woman with a powerful story to tell. From living in an orphanage to adoring a loving grandmother to life falling apart after her grandmother’s death, Milena’s difficulties triggered an underlying disease of depression. Her life has followed a path of self-harming behaviors, a diagnosis of EDNOS (Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified), and multiple hospital and treatment center admissions.

Milena almost died. Yet she offers hope with passion, and makes a promise no one can deny.

Listen as Milena shares with us her struggle, how she found treatment, and where she is in her recovery process. This interview is an emotional and eye-opening experience!

Latest Episode

Suicide Prevention Month – Tattoos Remind Us of Sorrow and Hope

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

(c)2016  Nancy Virden, Always the Fight Ministry

photo-24757359-young-bald-man-flexing-biceps_We set up memorials of all kinds in our lives such as cherishing a piece of jewelry, keeping a certain chair at the table, lining our mantels with photos, or storing away an old cane. Memories are stirred by items, smells, and sounds that remind us of past events, and perhaps of someone who has died.

Tattoos can be memorials too. People who are suicide survivors (lost a loved one to suicide), and suicide attempt survivors, are writing hope and sorrow on their skin. These are poignant and precious messages. Take a look (use the following link), and try to grasp the potency suicide has on those people and generations left behind.

This is Suicide Prevention Month. Let’s be aware.

https://themighty.com/2016/08/tattoos-inspired-by-suicide-loss-and-suicidal-thoughts/

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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.

This is National Suicide Prevention Week

 

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

(c)2016  Nancy Virden, Always the Fight Ministry

14054486_10153699097496957_3463599970773897587_oBeing involved in the mental health arena as an advocate and client, I have learned how enormous the world of mental healthcare is. There are organizations and private practices, support groups and individual therapies, and hospitals and treatment centers all across America. I’m impressed by how many people have invested their lives and careers into saving the lives of others.

Part of my job, as I see it, is to teach people to check stigma at the door. We need to lose the misinformed ideas that keep people from receiving the help and hope they need. If only mental health was seen as fragile, and as deserving of care as our hearts! That perception is not common in our society’s mindset… yet.

Weeks like this one, National Suicide Prevention Week, and National Suicide Prevention Month (September), are for the sake of releasing those people stuck in hopelessness and shame. People hurt, yet fear to tell anyone. People wish to die, yet refuse treatment because they see something wrong or weak in that. People need some help,  yet turn from it because they believe they are deficient if they ask.  That’s the result of stigma. Stigma kills.

Today, I want to share with you a remarkable story.

Mattie was a young twenty-something with a history of suicide attempts. She was caught in a cycle of despair, serious cries for help, and risky behavior. So far, she had made it out alive. Each time she went home after leaving the hospital, her father would mock her. He would not change his neglectful ways or his verbal abuse.  He seemed to carry no sympathy for his daughter’s pain. She was desperate for her father’s love. Her disappointment in not having it devastated her. Hopelessness taunted her as she struggled to know her worth in the face of constant rejection by the one man who was supposed to love her unconditionally.

In a support group filled with people who were battling suicidal thoughts, she expressed doubt that her life mattered. Another member of the group told her the following: Suicide leaves a legacy. People left behind have been given an “out” in the sense that their loved one made suicide acceptable. Generations later, family members and others remember the ancestor who killed himself or herself.  People want to know the reason, and to have an answer to the unanswerable ‘why?’

When Mattie heard this, she grew animated. Sitting straight up in her chair, she said, “Then I won’t do it! I couldn’t do that to my little brother.”

To those who have been in such circles, her comment and decision make sense. We understand her suicide attempts were not selfishness or an uncaring attitude toward her brother. We know why she didn’t come to the conclusion herself how valuable she is to her brother. We also understand that her response did not mark the end of her depression or suicidal thoughts. Recovery is not that easy.

The power of support groups is that like-minded people share a common struggle openly and without fear of judgment. Mattie heard the truth, but not from her ignorant father who somehow felt that mocking and controlling her would force her to be who he wanted.  His stigma-pushing accusations of weakness and attention-seeking did nothing but make her feel more condemned and worthless.  The support group members recognized her suicide attempts for what they were – actual despair. In short, Mattie did not know any other way to get her needs met.

Stigma nearly killed Mattie. We can do better in our treatment of those who struggle with suicidal thoughts or attempts.

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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.

 

Anorexia Nervosa: Starving for Unconditional Love

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

(c)2016  Nancy Virden, Always the Fight Ministry

the-scale-1541514The world became more aware of Anorexia Nervosa in 1983, when 32-year old Karen Carpenter, the famous drummer and singer in the brother-sister band called “Carpenters”,  died of heart failure due to this eating disorder.  We see pictures of celebrities suspected of anorexia. Because photos are so often touched up to help enhance models, we must suspect photos of so-called anorexia patients to also be exaggerated. None-the-less, in performance industries, thinness is held in esteem as if it is a sign of worth.

We read and hear the message constantly – “Get your beach body by summer,” “This supplement guarantees 12 pounds lost in two weeks!”, “Ask your doctor if bariatric surgery is right for you.” The message that thin is better consumes some people. Eating disorders develop as vulnerable minds absorb the idea that acceptance and true love come with losing, or not gaining, weight.

Along with that superficial message, come the ones from health industries. As a society, we are supposedly on the attack against childhood obesity. A billboard near my home reads, “Childhood obesity is going down!” I think of all the overweight kids and their bullies who read that sign.  It does not describe the benefits of health (“Run and play for your health”) or promote kindness (Invite your friends to a swim party”).  In my opinion, human nature interprets that sign as “I’m defective” and “take down the fat kids.”

These never-subtle messages infiltrate our society at the familial level. I heard of a grandfather who told his normal-sized eight year-old grandson that no one would ever like him if he ate all the french fries on his plate. He whispered out of earshot of the rest of the family, “You’re fat. No one loves a fat boy. No girls will like you and you won’t have any friends.” The boy’s reddening face gave away the problem, and his mother asked him later about it. From that point on, the child could choose whether to visit this abusive grandfather or not. He often chose to not.

Is it really any wonder then that young and old alike struggle with body-image? For some, self-loathing can lead to obesity because these people no longer believe there is anything to fight for. Who cares if you are extremely overweight if no one can love you anyway? Why worry about health when your life seems worthless?

For others, thinness becomes a perpetual goal. Bulimia Nervosa is characterized by binge-eating followed by “purging” which is ridding one’s body of the food before it can be absorbed into the body. Vomiting is the best-known means of purging. As in most disorders, Bulimia takes various forms, including not binge-eating or not vomiting.

People who develop Anorexia Nervosa basically stop eating. What they see in the mirror is not what we see when we look at them. Ironically, they are terrified of gaining weight while everyone around them wishes they would.  People with Anorexia can become gaunt, emaciated, and hollow-cheeked. They lose muscle tone, hair and nails become brittle, and women stop having their menstrual periods. What we might describe as skin and bones, they see fat.

Anorexia is not the angst of a foolish school girl. It is a terrifying life-threatening disease that affects all ages of both men and women. Why then do we not see more older people with the disease? Many die of this disorder at young ages. Astonishingly, more people with anorexia die than those with any other mental disorder. Did you read that right? “More than any other mental disorder,” is a higher mortality rate than schizophrenia, depression, and bipolar. Not only are people dying of starvation, they are dying by suicide.

Eating Disorder HOPE published an article explaining in part, why Anorexia can be so often fatal.

  • Comorbid conditions such as depression and extreme anxiety increase one’s risk of suicide.
  • Refeeding Syndrome is a potentially fatal complication of restoring nutrients and fluids via eating.
  • The Endocrine System can shut down.
  • The Gastrointestinal System can wreak havoc on a body in a starvation situation.
  • The Pulmonary System can malfunction.
  • Anorexia is further complicated by its chronic nature. Patients can progress periodically through treatment, but frequently relapse.

According to Eating Disorder HOPE,  studies covering 5,590 Anorexia Nervosa patients proved suspicions of a high mortality rate.

“Among those who survived, on average less than one-half recovered, one-third improved, and 20% remained chronically ill. Anorexia nervosa is a very complex and complicated disorder. It requires early diagnosis and access to care with close follow-up and often long-term treatment.”*

As with all disorders, people with Anorexia Nervosa need support systems and access to care. To manage their disease and thrive, they have to learn to avoid triggers and change negative influences such as people, places, and things.

My guest this week on CompassionateLove Radio tells her story of struggle with Anorexia Nervosa. This episode will be available Wednesday September 7, 2016 at: https://nancyvirden.com/compassionatelove-radio/latest-episodes/

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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 freeimages.com

*MSN,RN, and CRNP credential holders, Gail Hamilton, Lisa Culler, and Rebecca Elenback conributed to  Anorexia Nervosa – Highest Mortality Rate of Any Mental Disorder: Why?  Retrieved September 4, 2016 from http://www.eatingdisorderhope.com/

 

2 Weeks of Frustration Prove Once Again: Recovery is Not A Guarantee

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

(c)2016  Nancy Virden, Always the Fight Ministry

pretty teenage girl laughingThe last two weeks have been frustrating, maddening, throw-my-hands-in-the-air defeating, and included some of the best days of my life.

My radio show had a rough start. I thought I was ready, but the level of nervousness I felt surprised me. I’ve done public speaking and singing to crowds upwards of 2000 people. Microphones do not scare me, and coming up with things to say is generally not difficult.  I’ve even interviewed people in the past for a variety of writings and presentations. Still, my first show nearly unraveled me.

The audio was a headache too. I spent days and money trying to get it right. Then when it seemed to work, I interviewed my first guest. No success. Thank God she is a friend, because Danita agreed to three interviews until the sound came out ok!

In the meantime, my life went on hold as I mostly stared at my screen for days on end. Final edits devveloped over a 36-hour straight marathon. I was frazzled.

You know, as a reader of this blog, that my first priority is my mental health. With Major Depression Recurrent Severe, it is imperative that self-care and breaking duties down to manageable chunks take precedence. That is what did not happen the first two weeks of this show.

Then came last Thursday night. The second guest’s sound issues were also difficult. After spending two days on editing and correcting volume issues, I lost the file. Gone.

My aunt from Tennessee had come in then night before. Because of work, I missed spending time with her and my sons. We were to leave on Friday morning for Chicago, and I hadn’t packed. When that file disappeared I knew that unless God did some miracle, I would not have a show this week. (Edits are due on Sundays).

As I laid my head on my pillow, I gave up in the best way possible. Therapy had taught me what is known as “radical acceptance.” This was put into practice as I stopped striving, focused on the next day, and asked God to take care of the rest.

Friday afternoon was one of the highlights of the year – the opportunity to speak to residents of the treatment center where I once stayed.   I shared where I had once been, in utter hopelessness and feeling trapped beyond tolerance. I told them how the treatment center had played a huge role in setting me free.  They heard more details, laughed, and asked questions.

Afterward, I met with some other ex-residents and one agreed to an interview! Right there, we recorded the second show.  A few brief edits later, it was ready to go by Sunday.  The coordinator of these speaking events was also an eager interview, while others expressed interest to do so in the future. On Tuesday, it was a privilege to speak with a second group of women and answer their questions.  I was on cloud 9.

In the meantime, two young women I met as a resident three years ago met with me. One is doing well, is in school, and learning to cope with life’s challenges. She struggles to find healthy friends. Please pray for B. The other is still using, living in cheap motels or staying with whoever will take her in. Please pray for T, and for her family as they watch helplessly while she destroys her brain and future.

Recovery is not a guarantee. Ever. It is through learning new coping skills and by surrounding oneself with healthy supports that recovery happens. That is why I go to speak at the rehabilitation center. They need to know that escape to a better life is far superior than the temporary escapes we achieve through the abuse of our bodies. They also need to know we are all worth saving.

My frustrating weeks could have, theoretically, led to relapse.  They did not because I know how to address the temptations when they are strong.  It is humbling that by God’s grace I am a voice for recovery.  This is why I’ll keep on plugging away at this show, trying to adjust the audio, and hopefully soon it will be easier.

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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

 

 

 

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.

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