Living With Mental Health Disability: the Power to Live With Purpose

Compassionate Love: Displaying compassion for those who struggle with mental illness   (c) 2017 Nancy Virden, Always The Fight Ministries  

Fear has threatened to take me out of the game. I thought my challenger is Major Depression, which it is, however through Cognitive Behavioral Therapy I’ve learned to manage that quite successfully. Fear is what overpowers my coping skills more than I would like to admit.

Three years ago, two psychologists, a psychiatrist, and a therapist told me I am disabled. Their professional point of view was that major depression recurrent, generalized anxiety, and PTSD would keep me from working full-time. 

Initially, I took it hard. It felt like a punch to the stomach that these people who knew me so well did not believe I could make it on my own. My husband had just moved out, and although I was writing and two years into my advocacy work, my income was not enough support. I worried about employment and entrepreneurship. Possibilities stretched before me.  After hearing  I am disabled,  instead of looking at major depression as something conquerable,  I started to believe it had conquered me.

When these professionals whom I respect and trust, originally stated their case, my mental health issues were arguably disabling.  Evidence they interfered with my ability to work was clear. It still is.

The other side to the story

What a roller coaster my last two years have been!  Challenges have included: a major move; loss of relationships;  learning to live independently;  financial issues;  a court case; loneliness; health problems, and stressful decisions concerning this ministry. In my family alone, my dad died, I saw my estranged brother for the last time, conflict with a son resulted in a change of living arrangements, and my divorce was finalized. Yikes!

Most of these make the life’s major stressors list. In what some would call excessive turmoil, depression has been naturally triggered sometimes. I know the difference between managed and unmanaged depression. In the worst of it, when impaired daily function lasted for days at a time, major depression never took a solid foothold. Coping skills and strategies did their work.

Ironically, I felt victimized by a chronic condition, and yet it is fear that actually slows me down. Anxiety is a true disorder; I am not making light of that. To be honest however, there are moments I choose fear when it could be overcome. 

I have feared not being capable, or of trying hard because failure is certain. I have catastrophized worst case scenarios when evidence points toward positive outcomes. The word “disabled” rings in my ears, causing me to hesitate.

The lesson here is not that anxiety and depression are easily controlled, or that we who struggle with them need to shape up. NO, to say that would be to contradict my years-long message.  Rather, it is important to believe we are not victims. Our lives are challenged by mental illness and disorders that do not define us. 

There is more than meets the eye

We witness courage in ourselves each day we take small and glorious steps. Sat up in bed today? Took a shower? Ate? Bravo! Stepped outside? Called a friend? Went to work? You are a conqueror! Has someone labelled you disabled?  You do what you can!  Push the envelope safely, yet try.  

No one has the privilege of telling you what you do is not enough or that you cannot move forward. Learn the skills that make you functional. Use them every day. Choose hope even when life is dark, and in the face of limitations, know you have the power to live with purpose.   

girl lookingToday’s Helpful Word

Proverbs 31: 25, 26

“She is clothed in strength and dignity and she laughs without fear at the future. When she speaks her words are wise and she gives instruction with kindness.” 

 

**********COMMENTS ARE ALWAYS WELCOME.

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.

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