Category Archives: Anxiety

Struggle is Normal. Overcoming is Normal Too

Compassionate Love Blog: Displaying compassion for those who fight mental illness, addiction, and abuse  (c)2018  Nancy Virden, Always the Fight Ministries

woman with yellow backpack standing on hanging bridge with trees
Photo by Josh Willink on Pexels.com

It is normal to struggle. 

It is normal to struggle. 

Say that to yourself, and then say it to others.  Not everyone knows this truth. 

Recognize Normalcy

I’ve spoken well of previous therapists who helped to move me from suicidal despair to a life of hope and joy.  I was encouraged to change unhealthy thinking patterns and habits.

Due to my temperament and life experiences, much of what I felt in this process was a sense of failure at life. Had I known how normal my struggles were, how they are so common they have names in the psychology books, I would have felt less shame. 

Since that time, my research relating to advocacy has uncovered the truth. It is extremely beneficial to learn that much of how I’d been responding to life’s challenges was normal, even predictable, under the circumstances I’d been given.

Explore your possibilities 

If you equate struggle with shame, let it go. Humans have more in common than many of us realize.

Stress will produce anxiety. Ask, “What is known to help the myriad of people who overcome anxiety?” 

Depression is caused by many factors. It is appropriate to find out, “What works for the millions who recover every year?” 

Being an abuse survivor has some predictable outcomes. Your best question is, “What have others done to overcome horrible lies and victimization and to live to the fullest degree of joy?”  

Within our struggles, God offers good gifts:

  • The help of others
  • Opportunity to rely on Him 
  • Chances to refocus on new purposes

You see, overcoming is normal too. It happens all the time.

Stick to living, taking one day at a time. Allow yourself the privilege of humanness. Take advantage of God’s gifts. You will join the throng of people who make it through.  

 

Today’s Helpful Word

Hebrews 13: 5b-6

For God has said, “I will never fail you. I will never abandon you.” So we can say with  confidence, “The LORD is my helper, so I will have no fear. What can mere people do to me?”

***** COMMENTS ALWAYS WELCOME

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

If you are struggling emotionally today or feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, in the U.S. call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or for a list of international suicide hotlines, go here.

If you are suicidal with a plan, immediately call 911 in the U.S.  (for international emergency numbers, go here ), or go to your nearest emergency room. Do not be alone. Hope and help are yours.

*  crossing the bridge- Photo by Josh Willink on Pexels.com

 

 

 

 

5 Uncontrollable Things We Try to Control (and Make a Mess of It)

Compassionate Love Blog: Displaying compassion for those who fight mental illness, addiction, and abuse  (c)2018  Nancy Virden, Always the Fight Ministries

woman riding on black vehicle
Photo by Burst on Pexels.com

We like control. That’s not weird.

Control is good. We want to control our toddlers because they do not know how to be safe. We must control our cars or people will be hurt. Controlled tempers keep us out of fights and jail. Self-control is wise.

Focusing on what is within our control helps keep us sane. It is when we try to force influence over uncontrollable things and situations that we and those around us suffer.

The Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA) lists “Accept that you cannot control everything” as the number one way to deal with stress and anxiety.* The following are, I believe, common fuels for anxiety and possibly depression.

Five uncontrollable things we wish to control 

Other adults. We have zero control over the choices of others. Efforts at gaining control leave us frustrated and angry. Abuse is an obvious attempt at control, but so is political  vitriol. I know of a daughter and mother who rarely speak to one another because of disagreement over politics. No one in this scenario will change her mind, so what is the silent treatment for? 

Other drivers.  Yesterday on a local freeway, a driver weaved dangerously close between cars at about 85 miles per hour. It is amusing that my travel at a legal pace landed us at the same spot about five miles later. Trying to own the road makes a fool of an impatient driver. No one admires the person whose road-rage so easily overpowers good sense.

People groups. Whether the group is different by race or gender, age or belief system, pointing and accusing will not change anyone. One talk show host pointed to the TV camera and said, “Jesus was just a man.” In the same breath she condemned  believers who value sharing their faith. This hypocritical attempt at control (it is okay for me to share my beliefs but not okay for you to do so) will not enlighten a person, let alone a society. 

The future. No doubt this sums up all the rest. If designing the future was up to us, we would not suffer or experience disappointment. As it is, the doctor may have difficult news, a future spouse’s parents may not like his or her choice in a mate, relationships end, and sometimes we fail. Trying to control any of this will leave us fearful of facing the next day.

God. God is the king of the unknown. I claim Jesus as my Savior and worship God the Father as the one in Sovereign control. He has never let me down, so shouldn’t it be easy to let go and let God? Trust is difficult when my focus is on fear of potentially unhappy circumstances rather than his goodness. 

I suspect this is the same reason many try to design their own gods. By controlling one’s object of worship, this god cannot demand what one does not want to give. Trust and a sense of God’s love are absent. 

Today’s Helpful Word

Psalm 34:4
I sought the Lord, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears.

***** COMMENTS ALWAYS WELCOME

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

If you are struggling emotionally today or feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, in the U.S. call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or for a list of international suicide hotlines, go here.

If you are suicidal with a plan, immediately call 911 in the U.S.  (for international emergency numbers, go here ), or go to your nearest emergency room. Do not be alone. Hope and help are yours.

 

*https://adaa.org/tips-manage-anxiety-and-stress

“My house,” she said. “It’s all I got.”

Compassionate Love Blog: Displaying compassion for those who fight mental illness, addiction, and abuse  (c)2018  Nancy Virden, Always the Fight Ministries

pXewBwOA woman who stayed with her home during one of the devastating wildfires in California, surprised her friends and neighbors by her survival. When asked why she stayed behind instead of evacuating, she replied, “My house. It’s all I got.”

Occasionally, any of us may feel as if what we value is slipping away. Efforts to prevent loss demand our attention. In a similar way, when we suffer a severe episode of any  mental health challenge such as major depression, anxiety, or panic attacks, among others, we may fall in to a place of desperation.

Rationally,  it doesn’t make sense to give up one’s life for a house.  Still, the woman who risked her life is not alone. A year ago, during a massive hurricane, one interviewed citizen was choosing to stay behind to take care of someone else’s possessions! The end of that story is unknown. 

I do not think either of these people were calm and collected. Not knowing them, it seems they did what anyone would do who valued something or someone above themselves. Whether desperation lasts one minute or months, temporarily it is difficult to make well-reasoned choices based on what is true. Instead, our minds tell us our perceptions of danger, loss, or hopelessness are the sum of reality.

In those moments, what we value most will rise to the surface. For me, major depression  (later) exposed the fact that I treasured the evasive love of my husband more than life itself. This had to change, and it was hard work. Transferring my hope to a permanent foundation has changed everything in my life. 

God used several tools to open my heart to his unfailing love. Some of it was therapy, and a renewing of my thought processes. Some of it was scripture (I view the Holy Bible as his unerring Word to us). Some of it was prayer. The end result is a whole person, a woman who values and relies on his love. 

I no longer need a person or material possessions to define my worth. Having never been in a natural disaster, I believe now it would be a no-brainer to leave everything behind. Reality is, God loves me. He sent his Son Jesus to die and resurrect so I could be with him forever. My hope lies there – in the unchanging, unending love of God the Father.

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Today’s Helpful Word

Matthew 6:19-21  

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.  But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.  For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

***** COMMENTS ALWAYS WELCOME

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

If you are struggling emotionally today or feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, in the U.S. call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or for a list of international suicide hotlines, go here.

If you are suicidal with a plan, immediately call 911 in the U.S.  (for international emergency numbers, go here ), or go to your nearest emergency room. Do not be alone. Hope and help are yours.

 

*house fire pic by XYMONAU ; streams of light by MICROMOTH: both  on rgbstock.com

 

Last Night’s Dream Had Me Looking for Hope Where It Already Exists

Compassionate Love Blog: Displaying compassion for those who fight mental illness, addiction, and abuse  (c)2018  Nancy Virden, Always the Fight Ministries

In my dream last night, I was walking on a broad boardwalk, surrounded by a busy crowd, everyone trying to go somewhere. Beside us was a hill topped with a white four floor apartment building.

I looked up. There were two friends peering out one of the floor-to-ceiling windows on the top floor.  They waved for me to come.  In another window on the same floor stood a mutual friend. He was staring out at the ocean and boardwalk view.  All four of us were meant  to meet at his place.

The dream whisked me to the right floor where I began looking for my friends.  Entering a small living space void of people, I spied suit coats hanging in the closet. A shirt looked like one I used to own. What is my stuff doing in here? I thought , touching the shirt,  tempted to take it back. Instead, looking about, wall decorations and well placed furniture made it clear that people did indeed live there.  I left.

A panicky feeling was rising. At first it only had been nervousness, but now I felt lost.  I tried to calm myself. Just keep looking. They are here somewhere. 

At the end of the hall where it was unlikely my friends could be, was a paneled wall instead of a window. It felt like the interior of a 1970s business office. The hall narrowed to a dead-end.  Turning back, I ventured into the last open door only briefly, recognizing no one was there.  This apartment had the enormous window and view, yet one small room. It did not seem to be a place people would gather.

The last of my dream is vague in memory.  The words “Romans 24,26” passed through my thoughts before I woke.

For some, dreams are messages. Others believe they help us process life’s issues.  If either of these are true in this case, it makes sense the dream was about searching. 

I’ve been searching for much lately.  Last night was my first at home following three days in the hospital (which is why this post is a day late). Doctors seem unable to find the exact cause and precise means of correcting a chronic issue. How to go forward with Always The Fight Ministries is heavy on my mind. I’ve applied for a great job and have made the second cut in the hiring process.  In September I backed off a favorite and useless anxiety coping mechanism, and am trying to ground myself in its replacement. 

Should I this, should I that? Which way is best, which way is disastrous? How can I avoid being wrong?  This is old stinkin’ thinkin’.  Worry, anxiety, catastrophizing… I thought it was all rooted out and overcome. Obviously not. 

This morning I did another search. Romans 24 -26 do not exist as chapters. Those particular verses in Romans 8 read, “For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.  In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.”

Hope in this context refers to redemption of our bodies – freedom from mortality and  all suffering. We hope for what we do not yet have.  This is not the type of hope that crosses its fingers and tries to think positive thoughts.  This hope is certain, bound in the knowledge that the One True God has planned complete wholeness of body, mind, and spirit for those who believe on his Son Jesus. 

The “Spirit” in these verses is the Holy Spirit, the very Spirit that is God’s. When we are searching and do not know what to pray or decide, the Spirit prays for us.  Our suffering is never meaningless or wrapped in defeat. He will guide the steps of the righteous. 

I don’t know about you, but I needed this Bible study today. Whatever one may believe about dreams, mine led me to this promise: my hope is on solid ground, and I am not alone in the fight.  

 Today’s Helpful Word

Psalm 91:1,2
 Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High

    will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.  I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress,  my God, in whom I trust.”

***** COMMENTS ALWAYS WELCOME

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

If you are struggling emotionally today or feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, in the U.S. call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or for a list of international suicide hotlines, go here.

If you are suicidal with a plan, immediately call 911 in the U.S.  (for international emergency numbers, go here ), or go to your nearest emergency room. Do not be alone. Hope and help are yours.

-room pic by ZELA on rgbstock.com; girl pic by JAZZA on rgbstock.com

 

 

 

I Can’t, You Can

Compassionate Love Blog: Displaying compassion for those who fight mental illness, addiction, and abuse  (c)2018  Nancy Virden, Always the Fight Ministries

Gravelly and broken. The parking lot’s many potholes threaten to open wider in the next big storm. Miniscule pebbles sprinkle a patchwork of old and newer asphalt. 

Walking toward my car, my mind races with everything on my to-do list.  A familiar sense of helplessness and fear creep into the thought process. “I can’t!” I said to myself. “I can’t do it all!”

Staring down, I notice my feet are not touching all the patches. Little stones lay everywhere and I am not considering which ones to walk on.  Going over all the rough spots in the lot would take hours – a frantic attempt at a task that is not mine or necessary. Millions of pebbles prove that trying to touch them all is a wasteful and ridiculous idea. My job is simply to keep walking.

Sometimes there are too many obligations. I and many of us lock ourselves into more than is necessary, more than we can reasonably do.

This time, I quit. 

It’s a familiar feeling, being  overwhelmed.  My reaction has to change.  Plopping in a chair in near defeat, I focus on God and ask for wisdom. The prayer, I can’t but You can enters my thoughts.

Life and mind for each of us seems gravelly and broken sometimes. Just as we finish one repair, another pothole appears. We chase flaws instead of dreams. That pace will last for only so long.  

My to-do list is up for reassessment, for sure!  First, a break is top priority. I will sit back and wait on the Lord, and allow Him to heal my spirit. He will teach me what steps to take, and give me the strength to take them. 

Maybe someone else wants to hit every patch of cement and pebble in the parking lot. Not me. Endeavors succeed when we are free to focus. Mental health can flourish in a balanced life.  

I can’t means God can, and I’ll let him.  

Today’s Helpful Word

Psalm 27:14 

Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord.

***** COMMENTS ALWAYS WELCOME

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

If you are struggling emotionally today or feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, in the U.S. call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or for a list of international suicide hotlines, go here.

If you are suicidal with a plan, immediately call 911 in the U.S.  (for international emergency numbers, go here ), or go to your nearest emergency room. Do not be alone. Hope and help are yours.

*potholes by TACLUDA; woman by MOKRA, both of rgbstock.com

He Did Not Know How to Stay Alive

Compassionate Love Blog: Displaying compassion for those who fight mental illness, addiction, and abuse  (c)2018  Nancy Virden, Always the Fight Ministries

TRIGGER ALERT – This article discusses a recent suicide

Two weeks ago, a pastor died by suicide. People first noticed his struggle with anxiety and depression (which often come as a pair) in April, and the church board gave him a four-month sabbatical.

After a breakdown, the same denial that led us to keep pushing through difficult emotions in the first place,  is there to push us out of them in a hurry. We desperately want to be well and meet our obligations.  We want to feel normal. Others around us feel better when we are well, too.  We move too fast.

This pastor pushed himself to death.   ‘I’m OK. I can keep going,’ he said.  I do not have details. Did he suffer from delusions?  Did he momentarily lose touch with reality? Or did he come to believe everyone is better off without him? Listen to his introduction in his last sermon. This young man needed much more time to get well.

I love that he  tried to raise up other people,  but intimately understand how he missed the point with regard to his own health.  I’ve been there!  I hope no one is condemning him, because he was actually trying his best.

Hear how much he wanted to stay alive. Depression and anxiety stole his ability to do that. There had not been enough time, enough counseling, to reach the core of his needs.  One can question for infinity his mindset, yet I know he did not know how to survive what was happening to him. If he had known, he would be here.

Mental illness deserves understanding, mercy, grace, and patience. It is no one’s fault he died. May God bless his family and church. There are many broken hearts.

A man commented on an article following this pastor’s suicide:

I have read the comments, and feel compelled to respond. I have been a pastor of 32 years who has ministered to many people dealing with depression and anxiety. But, I must confess that I never really understood depression until my wife suffered through suicidal depression for 3 years. What people need to understand about depression is that people with severe depression struggle to think rationally and logically. One of the comments below was about someone kicking his butt & telling him how selfish he was. In other words, someone just needed to talk some sense into him. Depression doesn’t defer to rational thought! My suicidal Christian wife actually believed she would be helping our young boys by taking her life. She convinced herself that she was causing undue harm to them. Yes, suicide is a selfish act. However, that is the core issue of depression. You are stuck in an isolated, self-absorbed world of darkness and despair so deep that suicide literally seems like the only logical option… 

I hope you will listen to the deceased pastor’s last sermon, if you can do so safely.  He has much to teach us.  If you are struggling with suicidal thoughts, please call 1-800-231-TALK, or call 911. Then follow the process to get well. Don’t rush, give God time to renew your mind.

Today’s Helpful Word

Proverbs 2:2

Tune your ears to wisdom, and concentrate on understanding.  

***** COMMENTS ALWAYS WELCOME

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

If you are struggling emotionally today or feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, in the U.S. call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or for a list of international suicide hotlines, go here

If you are suicidal with a plan, immediately call 911 in the U.S.  (for international emergency numbers, go here ), or go to your nearest emergency room. Do not be alone. Hope and help are yours.

 

 

Flashbacks Triggered by Catholic Church Scandals: How to React with Compassion to PTSD

Compassionate Love Blog: Displaying compassion for those who fight mental illness, addiction, and abuse  (c)2018  Nancy Virden, Always the Fight Ministries

Emily* was ill. Mentally and physically exhausted, much of her time at Timberline Knolls Rehabilitation Treatment Center was spent asleep or curled up on a couch in the lounge. On those occasions she did rise, her efforts at connection and function were heroic.

One afternoon,  she and I were the first to arrive at a large group therapy room.  No one in a rehab is at their best, obviously. However, conversation was cordial and sedate.

Suddenly, Emily threw herself into a huge bear hug and buried her head. She began rocking back and forth. Soon, she had turned her back to the room, trying to hide from the danger, pain, terror, and false-guilt that accompanied her flashback.

No doubt in her thoughts she was a child again, feeling all the sensations of abuse. Her momentary reality was darkness, a hand reaching through the black, her survival threatened.

Sitting next to her I began to whisper. “Emily, it is ok now. You are safe. You are at Timberline Knolls. People care about you here. Your head is on a fireplace hearth, your body is on carpet. No one is hurting you. Girls who care about you are all around. You are not alone. You are safe here.”

Continuing along those lines for a few minutes, eventually Emily started to come out of it. When her horrible flashback ended, she was quiet, yet present.

What you can do 

With all the news in the last week about sexual abuse in the Catholic church,  PTSD is affecting many men, women, and children. Not only victims of that scandal are suffering.  Any previous victims of sexual or other kinds of abuse may find normal days interupted.  They see or hear the news, and Bam! Unwillingly, they are tossed back to a time and place they long to forget. 

You may witness this. Please do not tell a person experiencing a flashback to shake it off or just give it to God. Instead, express your care and love, and help them refocus on the here and now. One way to do that is to start describing the room you are both in and the people who are there.  Offer assurance they are safe.

Knee-jerk reactions like “get on with it'” or  “quit feeling sorry for yourself” dismiss what is happening. A tortured mind, often complete with body sensation memories,  is temporarily overwhelmed.  To treat this like an attitude problem undercuts healing.

Mention there is no danger. If their pet is nearby, bring it over. Draw attention to what his or her five senses are experiencing in the present. Disburse any hovering  crowd. Keep your words and tone gentle, calm, and positive.

Later, after this person feels more grounded and less fearful, offer to help him or her give it to God by briefly praying together.  Say, “You are not alone.”  Never suggest they are failing somehow.

Compassionate love meets people where they are in the moment.

Today’s Helpful Word

Romans 12: 15 

Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.

 

 

***** COMMENTS ALWAYS WELCOME

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

If you are struggling emotionally today or feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, in the U.S. call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or for a list of international suicide hotlines, go here

If you are suicidal with a plan, immediately call 911 in the U.S.  (for international emergency numbers, go here ), or go to your nearest emergency room. Do not be alone. Hope and help are yours.

*b/w butterfly by XYMONAU ;  yellow butterfly by CLIOVON, both on rgbstock.com

*not their real names

Is All The Bad News Messing With Your Mental Health?

Compassionate Love Blog: Displaying compassion for those who fight mental illness, addiction, and abuse  (c)2018  Nancy Virden, Always the Fight Ministries

Watching the news is like taking a bath in negativity and cynicism.  You know as well as I that heroic events take place each day.  That is because for every awful news story, there are first responders,  families  gathering to pray and comfort one another, and neighbors helping neighbors. 

Yesterday,  some well-trained air traffic controllers went to work,  ready to save lives for eight hours as they do each day.  Military pilots dressed in their uniforms, kissed their spouses, and left.  First responders prepared for unpredictable shifts.  No one knew they would be joined in an effort at saving a man’s life.  

That is not how the news story read, is it?  The headline was not “Dozens Offer Hope to Desperate Man.” No. News  stories focused on a stolen plane, a man’s suicide, and then security issues at the hangar.  This is the negative bent that makes the news business rich. Eventually, it makes us afraid.  

Peace of mind does not seem to result from watching or reading the news. However, taking a break from it, does. Participation in creativity, sport, eye-to-eye connection, and laughter, enriches us. Biting back would-be complaints and looking for beauty instead raises our spirits.

Our mental health is often linked to how we think.  Avoiding the news will not make everything all better. It will, however, make life less challenging.

You have probably heard wise advice about keeping toxic people at arm’s length.  Why then, invite the same poison in to our homes via the news?

Earlier this week I had enough of the racing thoughts, flashbacks, and other PTSD-related symptoms that have been more sensitive lately.  I asked God in prayer to help me, and he is. One of the truths I believe he reminded me is to stay away from the news for a while.

Do we need to know about all the murders and war crimes and natural disasters? No.  Our best option is not sheltered ignorance, either. Nonetheless, there is no need to delve into the news every day or for more than a few minutes. 

Joy is everywhere. Choose it.

Today’s Helpful Word

Philippians 4:8 

 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

 

***** COMMENTS ALWAYS WELCOME

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

If you are struggling emotionally today or feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, in the U.S. call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or for a list of international suicide hotlines, go here

If you are suicidal with a plan, immediately call 911 in the U.S.  (for international emergency numbers, go here ), or go to your nearest emergency room. Do not be alone. Hope and help are yours.

*phone pic by LUCI on rgbstock.com

How the Best Supports Can Help You With Depression and Anxiety

Compassionate Love: Displaying compassion for those who struggle with mental illness, addiction, or abuse   (c) 2018  Nancy Virden, Always The Fight Ministries

One week after exiting the hospital for a major  depressive episode,  anxiety grew to irrational caution.  It was 2005, and I waited outside a familiar door in my church,  afraid of familiar people.  Finally, loneliness trumped fear.

As one woman walked by to enter the foreboding room,  I whispered.  At  first, she  did  not hear.

“Marge.” I said her name a second time.

“Nancy? What did you say?” She came closer.

 “If I come in there, may I sit in the back? I don’t think I can face everyone…”  A mouse-like voice returned. 

The tone of her voice grew my confidence. “Nancy, just come and be with us. You can sit wherever  you like.” 

Such acceptance and love.

My behavior was abnormal in general, and maybe especially for me, as typically friendliness and smiles portray my greetings. Marge may have thought it best to leave me alone. By speaking out my needs, her graciousness could calm some of  my fears.

The other option was to sit in the hall. 

Telling people our precise needs is the most effective way of reaching out.  It is difficult to answer when family and friends ask,  “What can I do for you?” We might feel it is selfish to ask for much, or too risky.  Would-be-supports are sometimes afraid. They often do not know how to help or are concerned they might worsen a situation.. 

Keeping a list nearby with ideas such as , “I need non-critical acceptance” and “I need someone to sit with me.” gives them solid  information. Both you and they will feel relief.

Demanding is different from informing others of our needs. Demand shows up in our tone of voice,  expectations, and negative reactions when disappointed.  

About therapists involved in my care, I added to my journal:  “Truth  is, it is God who will get me through  life victoriously, not happily all the time.. People he has brought to help in the happiness department will sometimes let me down. This does not mean I should write them off.”

What then do the best supports look like? They exercise boundaries, and believe for us through better and not-so great circumstances.  (This does not mean they approve of  all we do!) They trust God’s process, and do not try to control the situation.

They are safe, do not abuse or take advantage in any way, and try to meet us where we are. They listen to what we say instead of assuming, proactively trying to grasp our meanings by asking good questions. They know if understanding and the ability to relate is elusive, they can continue to be  supportive. 

The best supports are human, and never perfect at any of the above. 

We can choose to help them help us. 

Today’s Helpful Word

Proverbs 16:24 

Kind words are like honey— sweet to the soul and healthy for the body.

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

“In Your Religion, Doesn’t God Love You? How Can You Feel Anxious or Depressed?” A Doctor’s Remark Addressed

Compassionate Love: Displaying compassion for those who struggle with mental illness   (c) 2018  Nancy Virden, Always The Fight Ministries

Twenty years ago, a doctor asked routinely if I felt depressed or anxious. One day I said, “Yes.”

She looked surprised and said, “In your religion, doesn’t your God love you? How can you feel anxious or depressed?”

She is not the only medical professional to dismiss mental health issues as matters of choice. One refused to treat me at all.

She is also not the first person to use lack of faith as the assumed cause of uncomfortable emotions.

The word anxious makes some people blame, scold, assume the worst of, or dismiss a person who admits to it.  We are told to not feel whatever we feel, that there’s no reason for it.

What if there is a reason?

Healthy plans include looking at why our feelings are strong. Emotions will teach us if we stop to ask questions of them and listen.  Awareness is the first step toward solutions. (You will find the difference between DISORDER and typical stress or mood explained below this post.)

St. Paul was a preacher in the years immediately following the death and resurrection of Christ.  God gave him several brag-worthy visions.  In the New Testament, we read that Paul learned the reason behind one of his many struggles. He came right out and said that God sent him a “thorn in the flesh” to keep him humble.

Would anyone today walk up to Paul and tell him his weakness was lack of faith?

If he had denied this difficulty,  toughed it out in his own strength, he would not have practiced his faith by asking God for help. He would not have understood the point. He would never have written:

Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

Emotional Safety

Although the specific challenge Paul faced is not named,  we do know he felt fears and anxiety.*  Anxiety under a compilation of difficult circumstances is normal. Why cannot we admit, “I’m feeling anxious” without a hurricane of  shouldn’t blowing us away?

It behooves us to discuss emotions without judgment. Through non-critical acceptance, we protect emotional safety. This in turn allows each person to consider options such as self-care and perhaps professional help as needed. How important it is to know we can approach God for help without guilt stopping us!

As a follower of Christ,  and one who knows God loves her, I believe  God walks with me through emotions and teaches me when I ask.

NOTE:  I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I speak only from personal experiences with and observations of mental illness, abuse, and addiction. In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental or behavioral 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.
*********OTHER NOTES
DISORDERS are characterized by their duration and intensity.  They present a challenge to regular functioning over longer periods of time.Anxiety Disorder has more extreme symptoms than the type of anxiety everyone feels before a driving test or meeting a significant other’s parents. Mood Disorders are more than the blues and mood swings people feel with the change of weather.  Sometimes it is difficult for a person with a disorder to find any cause.

*Paul and anxiety

  • Philippians 2:27-29  I am the more eager to send him, therefore, that you may rejoice at seeing him again, and that I may be less anxious.
  • 2 Corinthians 2:12-13Now when I went to Troas to preach the gospel of Christ and found that the Lord had opened a door for me,I still had no peace of mind, because I did not find my brother Titus there. 
  • Ephesians 6:20  Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should. 
  • 2 Corinthians 7:5  For when we came into Macedonia, we had no rest, but we were harassed at every turn—conflicts on the outside, fears within.