Category Archives: Be an Effective Support

For One of the Least of These: Helping The Emotionally Naked and Vulnerable

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

adult-beautiful-beauty-892771

Have you ever felt emotionally naked? Perhaps a secret is exposed, or you fear you shared too much of your inner struggle. Maybe a friendship or relationship ends and you regret trusting so deeply.

These situations and others make us emotionally vulnerable.

I have met people who in the spirit of self-protection have all but eliminated social connections from their lives. It is easy to shake my head and wonder how someone could make such a decision. However, in all honesty, there are times  emotional vulnerability felt too scary, and I have backed off too.

Maybe we all have.

There is one particular type of vulnerability we will do well to attend. That is, the painful, terrifying, likely years-in-the-making, admissions of victimization by abuse.

Abused children and adults generally have great difficulty asking for help. Perhaps they believe the lies of the abuser – you deserve this, you made me do it, or  if you tell I will make your family suffer,  and other emotional beat-downs and threats.

Some victims have tried to tell before, and received poor responses from family, friends, church, or even professionals. They fear trying again. Unfortunately, many who come forward find it challenging to make people believe their story. This is especially true when the abuser is narcissistic and will lie, cry , or blame the victim in an attempt to keep up appearances.

The kindest way to help these vulnerable folks is to believe them.  To anyone to whom an abuse victim shares their experience – do not judge. Even if you think you grasp the situation, do not judge. Listen, and do what you must to keep this person safe.

To anyone currently in an abusive situation – tell your story until someone believes you. Your best options for that are probably shelters and abuse centers.

We can each provide “clothes” for the emotionally naked. Acceptance is the garment that will help a person recover and not retreat again into the shadows.

Today’s Helpful Word

Matthew 25: 37

“Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you … naked and clothe you?…’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers (and sisters), you did it 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.

 

For One of the Least of These: Helping The Stranger

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

woman in black long sleeved shirt
Photo by Designecologist on Pexels.com

Dehumanizing a person in our thoughts or speech makes it easier to fear and hate. Dehumanizing a people group works the same way. Equating a race or gender with animals is one way in which society has dehumanized people. Another form of such dehumanization occurs when struggles with mental health are demonized or wrapped up in one word- crazy. 

Fear of people with histories of mental illness is reaching new extremes. Reporting on the very few violent types carelessly connects mental illness with murder. Truth is, the vast majority of people with mental illness are more likely to be victims of violence. Those who have attempted suicide are not going to “go off” and attack others. 

We need to better understand what brings a person to the point they are homicidal. Mental illness may be a factor, but is not a predictor. 

For example, a recent mass shooter was reported to have seen a psychiatrist. I believe the article said he had visited this doctor one time. The story implied that because he had seen a psychiatrist he must be crazy, and therefore ended up killing people. Here is another way of looking at it. He saw a psychiatrist only once, and did not follow through with treatment, hence did not accept the help offered to him. 

By equating “he saw a psychiatrist” with murderous behavior, stigma is encouraged. People who will benefit from psychiatric care may feel shamed into not going. 

Beyond mass shooters and other criminals are millions of people who for one reason or another struggle with mental illness to varying degrees. Instead of being knowledgeable and learning to practice healthy boundaries, we run away or ignore them.

We have each been a stranger. For whatever reason, we have each been judged. It has never benefited us to feel misunderstood. In this way, we can relate to those who are ostracized because of their mental health history. 

Here is today’s invitation. If you know someone with a past of mental illness, say hello.  This website offers information on how to be supportive. Simple internet searches will lead you to such information as well.

Be wise. I am not suggesting we ignore one’s history of violent behavior and invite them to hang out with our families. I am simply inviting you to avoid dehumanizing someone based on a history of mental illness. Let’s drop the negative assumptions and fear. Let’s drop the hate and “lock ’em all up” attitude which is growing in the U.S.

Today’s Helpful Word

Matthew 25: 37

Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink?  And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’  And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers (and sisters), you did it 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.

 

No One Cares How Much You Know

Compassionate Love:Displaying compassion for those who struggle with mental illness   (c)2014 Nancy Virden

We have all met Jack. He is generally uneducated, does not care to read, his television favorites are mindless, and yet he knows the answer to nearly every problem other people have.  He tends to be bold, thoughtless, crass, or even obnoxious. We do not enjoy his company.

Then there is Mack. He has earned several degrees from reputable schools. Mention a person’s problem to him, and he mentally shakes his head at all the ignorance in the world. His dismissive wave of the hand is only figurative because he trusts that outward decorum speaks well of his intelligence. We sometimes enjoy being seen in his company.

We are familiar too with Zack. He is quiet and seemingly empty of  conflict or points of view. He will not follow-up or show active concern when faced with problems of those about him. He seems nice enough, and we spend time with him because it would be rude to not.

Of these three, to whom would we be likely to turn in times of emotional distress? Why or why not?

Jack, Mack, and Zack will not change the world for the better. Being an influence for good means caring about a problem, asking good questions, and making personal sacrifice. 

When we are in emotional distress, the least helpful support is someone spouting know-it-all claims to fix the situation. Apathy and silence can be even more cutting. 

To be supportive of friends or family members who are struggling with their emotions, this is an old saying worth remembering:  No one cares how much you know until he or she knows how much you care.

 Today’s Helpful Word

Romans 12:9

Love must be sincere.”

***** 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.

*pics from qualityphotos.com

 

A Visit to Rehab: The Greatest of These is Love

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

This past Sunday, I drove to Chicago.  The director of alumni events at a rehabilitation center had invited me to speak with residents on Monday. 

Morning came early. While much of the U.S.A. was arising and heading to work or school, these women  continued the fight  to gain recovery from addiction, eating disorders, mental health challenges, or all three. Excited and a little nervous, I left the hotel to join them.

Women in the rehab program advance in liberties as they progress. This time, my audience consisted of women in the process of learning to make healthier choices without constant supervision.  They are well on their way to going home, clean and sober. In fact, a few of them  graduated that day!

Most people in recovery have been told numerous times they are worthless, many since childhood. As part of my story,  I shared the reality of God’s love and message. I added, “I am a Christian, born-again, a follower of Jesus. But those are only words. Hopefully, my life reflects who he is.” Everyone nodded. 

America today hears much rhetoric about Christians, evangelicals in particular, and the mix of religion with politics as if faith in Jesus and a certain political party are one and the same.  It is difficult for those who do not know, to grasp who Jesus actually is. 

In some ways, the standard for Christians is raised. Show me you mean it. Show me you do not hate or despise me. Match your choices to your words. Prove your faith by your love. In extending love and compassion, and sincere non-critical acceptance to people in all stages of their journey, we represent God as the Bible reveals him.*

Mental health treatment in this country is greatly lacking. It is not available everywhere,  and is expensive for most.  Parity in the insurance realm is inconsistent. There are few standards by which to measure how long a patient should stay in a hospital.

In my opinion, stigma and lack of knowledge are the primary reasons we do not take care of mentally ill and emotionally unstable people. There is judgment – “I do not believe in mental health disability, I just don’t.”  “Depression is not an illness,  with enough faith (or strength) anyone can snap out of it.” “You are adopting the principles of the world if you give psychology any merit.” 

All these have been said to me, about me, plus many more accusations of failure. If I could describe  the beauty of joy and hope in the faces of the women I met on Monday,  perhaps more could see the value of mental (some call it behavioral) healthcare.  Maybe  God could get some credit for knowing what he is doing in each person’s life! 

Meanwhile, it is tremendous joy being vulnerable and open with people in the middle of the struggle. They, as do we all, respond to love.

Today’s Helpful Word

Mark 10:46-52

Then they came to Jericho. As Jesus and his disciples, together with a large crowd, were leaving the city, a blind man, Bartimaeus (which means “son of Timaeus”), was sitting by the roadside begging.  When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”

Many rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”

Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.”

So they called to the blind man, “Cheer up! On your feet! He’s calling you.” Throwing his cloak aside, he jumped to his feet and came to Jesus.

“What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus asked him.

The blind man said, “Rabbi, I want to see.”

“Go,” said Jesus, “your faith has healed you.” Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus along the road.

***** 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.

-woman pic by LUSI on rgbstock.com; Jesus pic from freebibleimages.org

*This does not imply avoidance of the topic of sin. As seen in my work s a whole, my emphasis is how we approach people. Are we interested in gaining insight into another person’s struggle? Jesus showed sincere non-critical acceptance to hurting people, and in the context of meeting their needs, taught them to know him.   

For One of the Least of These: Offering Living Water to Those Who Thirst

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

A few days ago, my doctor’s instructions were to avoid food and water for twelve hours before a procedure. The food was no problem, but please. Water!

Matthew, who wrote the BIble book by the same name, tells us about the time Jesus ate no food for forty days. “Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.  After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry.“*

Jesus, being God, had the power to make stones into bread and sand into water. He chose not to do so because he “was led by the Spirit into the wilderness.” The “Spirit” here, is God’s Spirit. Jesus was intent on doing God’s will. His goal was to finish the task for which he came to earth in the first place. 

As the Creator of everything delicious, and having come from heaven of all places, it is doubtful Jesus came here for a yummy snack! No, he intended to die for our sins and resurrect to give eternal life to anyone who will believe. He had a serious mission. 

Let’s carry this into the realm of emotional and relational thirst. When Jesus taught to give a drink to thirsty people, he meant real water.  In other scriptures we see he offers ‘living water’ to those who are spiritually thirsty. 

People are thirsty for truth, for hope, or for someone to tell them they matter.  Believe it or not, offering a cup of real water is one way to tell a person he or she has value to you.  Kind acts carry a lot of weight. On a deeper level, taking the time to gain insight into a desperate person’s  experiences and thoughts, grants us an opportunity to offer life. 

I have written and spoken on the benefits of therapy, medications, and self-care. These matter in a big way to huge numbers of people. At one point, I too was dying of emotional thirst because I did not know how, or believe I would ever, find the sustenance (love) I needed. Therapy pointed the way, and taught me how to take in what had been there all along. 

Let me be clear. I am grateful for that experience and encourage others to find wise counsel. It is important to note however, my therapists did not ever point me away from the real difference-maker, Jesus Christ. The opposite is true, as they reminded me repeatedly who I am in God’s eyes. 

Helping someone who feels emotional, relational, or spiritual emptiness, is more effective when we seek God for the answers. Sometimes he leads us to the right people who will show us how to offer support.  Sometimes he guides us when we read the Bible. Always, he makes our paths straight when we surrender our will to his, and completely rely on his unfailing love.

Embrace someone who hurts. Show compassion for the confused, and those lashing out in pain. This is like water in desert ground to them. Allow God to begin the deep work of  change, hope, and joy in you by surrendering to Jesus.

Then pass on the living water to all who thirst.                                

Today’s Helpful Word

For [Jesus]  at the center of the throne will be their shepherd; ‘he will lead them to springs of living water.’ ‘And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.’”                                                                                                                                       

 

***** 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.

*Matthew 4:1,2

**Water pic by ROBBY_M; glass of water by LITTLEMAN, both of rgbstock.comrgb

For One of the Least of These: Helping Those Who Hunger for Love

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

Sarah felt lost. Her thoughts fluctuated between I do not need anyone, to I am bad for needing anyone, to why does no one care?

Her sense of aloneness and guilt exacerbated her doubt she was lovable at all. Shame joined the mental torture.

At the same time, her behavior told a different story. She was friendly and funny. Her need for affirmation was great. At times she realized she was fishing for approval, yet most often was unaware.

Her spirit had been crushed by absence of love from significant family members. Early in life she learned she was on her own. In second grade, a friend apologized that she would not be able to attend Sarah’s birthday party. Sarah cried, not because she was sad, but because she was in awe that someone cared enough to consider coming to her party.

The hole in her heart caused her to search for love in unhealthy ways. She truly did not know better. She was hungry, starving really, and the only solution was love.

Jesus said that when we see “one of the least of these” who is hungry and feed them, it is the same as doing it for him. That is because his love for hungry people is so great, he is blessed when their needs are met. He also loves givers, and rewards us when we become so.

He was speaking of those who are poor financially. He meant literal hunger and literal food. In another place he spoke of those who hunger for righteousness.* That is, people who desire to honor God.  In the same teaching, he promised blessing for those who mourn.**

God is one who cares intimately about our inner being. We can care too when someone like Sarah enters our sphere.  One way to do this is to offer time and listening. Perhaps we can help her find a good counselor or therapist and get her there. A simple and meaningful way to let a person know they matter is to say so. Emails, texts, calls, visits… all make a difference.

Beware becoming someone’s sole support. Sarah did not need a human savior, although she felt she did. One way to tell if a line is crossed, is to check if the relationship is changing. Friends do not become therapists. Pastors do not become on-call servants. Parents do not become doctors. Discourage dependence on you by not saying yes to every plea.

We can point someone to Christ and God’s love without judgment and criticism. By expressing sincere acceptance, we extend his compassion.  God’s love is so vast that our sins, flaws, mistakes, and even negative self-talk are not enough to make it stop.

Without question, God says we have to believe he exists. It is also imperative to believe that his Son Jesus, paid for our sins on the cross. This same Jesus resurrected and lives now as our Lord and Savior. These are foundational and necessary tenets of saving faith.

People like Sarah will begin to experience joy when they realize their inherent value. God’s love shines through the Bible and in our spirits. It is big enough to fill the emptiest caverns of need.

Counseling helped Sarah begin to see her worth as God sees her. Eventually she no longer yearned for people to meet her deepest need. God’s love has filled her to the brim, and even difficult circumstances no longer diminish her peace of mind. 

Today’s Helpful Word

Matthew 25: 37, 40 

“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you…?’  … The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for 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.

*Matthew 5:4 Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.

**Matthew 5:6  Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
    for they will be filled.

-empty heart by XYMONAU; cross heart BA1969, both of rgbstock.com

 

 

 

 

isaih 61: esv The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me,
    because the Lord has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor;[a]afflicted
  he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives,
and the opening of the prison to those who are bound;
2 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor,
    and the day of vengeance of our God;
  to comfort all who mourn;
3 to grant to those who mourn in Zion—
to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness instead of mourning,
    the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit;

Don’t Ask. Do Tell

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

The ‘source of all truth’, or the internet as some people call it, arms arguments with substantiated and unsubstantiated statistics and claims. 

“Don’t Ask. Do Tell” is a mindset where opinions rank above questions.  This form of non-critical thinking seems to have taken control over social media.  Memes abound with sound bites and comments taken out of context. Credit is given for quotes to people who never said them. Opinions, not journalism, reign over much of what we find to read. It is our responsibility to check facts before spreading finely spun tales.

Asking questions takes time and energy, I know.  For example, Don’t ask, don’t tell’ was a military policy regarding gay rights instituted in the 1990s in the USA.  Maybe it took some reading to realize this post is not about that.

It is simpler to rest a weary body and mind and take in what people who agree with us say. Yet asking what is true, and searching opposing arguments does not threaten truth.

Truth will rise to the top if we use critical thinking skills. What is the evidence? What were the words a person actually used? What is the context? What is the person repeating this statement or claim gaining by doing so? We can never know anyone’s motive without their direct explanation. Never. No, not ever.

Do ask before telling.  

By accepting only what those who agree with us have to say, we stay small and uninformed. By filtering everything through cynicism, we remain trapped in doubt. By assuming anything at all about another person, we react in ignorance. 

Critical thinking will support our mental health. Commonly, when we struggle with a mood disorder such as depression, our outlook is negative. One of the strategies we can use to help ourselves is to ask deeper questions. Did so-n-so say exactly what we feel they meant? Could a person hurt another by acting out of fear or confusion? Are we mind-reading? These are bare minimum questions, and can begin your trek to discovery. 

As supports of someone with a mood disorder, we ask this: Was the character of this person different when he or she was well? What is the evidence that mood disorders respond well to treatment? Does it make sense that someone would choose to experience depression?

Do ask. And once you have the reasonable truth, decide what to tell.

Today’s Helpful Word

Proverbs 10: 18-20

To hide hatred is to be a liar; to slander is to be a fool.  Don’t talk so much. You keep putting your foot in your mouth. Be sensible and turn off the flow!  When a good man speaks, he is worth listening to, but the words of fools are a dime a dozen.

***** 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.

*text pic by XYMONAU; punctuation by STARISOB, both of rgbstock.com

 

Are Ego-centrism and Selfishness the True Causes of Depression and Suicide Attempts?

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

Depression prevents one from being himself or herself.

Optimistic, giving, loving people will turn inward and may on the surface seem selfish. Truth is, from what I have seen, the true nature of a person is not changed when they struggle with even severe depression.

This explains in part why some suicides are shockingly surprising. A funny person’s humor, or a caring person’s compassion may continue, albeit with less fervor and energy, despite growing despair. At my worst point, a fellow member of a therapy group said it seemed as if I could laugh easily.  I am naturally energized by people. In the moment, perhaps that showed. What she could not see was the cavern of emptiness on the inside.

It is a symptom

The point of this is that a generally less self-absorbed person in emotional distress may become ego-centric.  A typically ego-centric person may express exaggerated selfishness.  That is depression at work. 

Thinking excessively about oneself, seeming to ignore everyone else, interpreting what others say in negative ways, or demanding attention are a few of the ways people in depression may act.  It is ego-centrism, no doubt. It is also a symptom of the condition.

Suicide attempts

Suicide attempts are definitely a cry for help... unless they are not!  That is why it is important to take each one seriously. Many sufferers actually try to die, and survive for myriad reasons. 

The accusation that such a person was “only looking for attention” is one of the most – forgive me – ignorant responses. Obviously, one who attempts suicide needs attention, and lots of it!  Thank God if even multiple attempts are cries for help.  Perhaps the only way this person knows how to make anyone listen is by creating distress.  One who never receives that attention may go on to suffer longer and more deeply.  Or die. 

Respond with patience

Frankly, recovering from depression requires hard work. While it is ultimately not healthy to remain self-absorbed, ego-centrism may hang around for an extended time. Taking one tiny step, then two, then three may take all the self-focus and energy one can muster.

And that’s ok. Pushing too hard can make hopelessness worse.

Today’s Helpful Word

Romans 15:5

May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had.

***** 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.

*pics by  COBRASOFT of rgbstock.com

 

Suicide Prevention – What NOT to Say or Do

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

Attention:  (If you have lost a loved one to suicide, I recommend you not read this particular article. Instead, go to a survivors of suicide support site.)

If you are reading this because you want to know the best possible ways to prevent suicide, you are not alone. Many family members and friends, if not most, who find that a loved one has fallen into a deep pit of despair, try their best to help.  Love is not the only solution, however.  Stigma guides most people instead of facts.  For that reason, I am glad you are here.

Suicide prevention is a recurring theme at Always The Fight Ministries. After seven years, my point of view on suicide prevention has not changed. We prevent attempts and deaths by increasing effective support for those who hurt. The key to providing effective support is knowledge.  

This is Suicide Prevention Month in the U.S.A.  Suicide is scary as a topic and reality.  Fear can lead us to a thirst for knowledge, or we may hide, or try to make difficulties disappear by using anger.  Here are some of the UNhelpful reactions to severe depression and suicide that I have witnessed or heard, or heard about.   

What to Avoid:  Vitriol, Distance, Distrust, and Bewilderment 

Vitriol

A suicidal person asked a family member to dole out their sleeping pills for safety reasons. Instead, the family member placed the full bottle on the night stand next to the one who was struggling to stay alive.   

“Why save lives? If someone wants to die, why not let him kill himself and decrease the surplus population?” 

“[He] was weak. With all that money, he could have got help. He was totally selfish.”

Distance 

“It is none of our business.”

“Don’t you play the suicide card with me!”

“I don’t know what to say or do.  I’ll leave him alone – he needs his space.”

“If I mention suicide,  I might push her toward it. We won’t talk about it.”

Distrust 

“If someone can hurt himself or herself,  he or she must be capable of violence. This same person might “snap at any time”  and harm someone else!”   [I cannot count how many times I have heard this misinformation.] 

“I do not believe in mental health disability. I just don’t!”

“Depression is not an illness. It is just self-pity.”

“Suicidal thinking is caused only by demons that have to be cast out. Then the person is fine.”

“People who attempt suicide and don’t die, didn’t mean it. They just want attention.”

Bewilderment

One spouse pleaded and shouted in frustration because her husband was hiding in a closet, too depressed to face the world. 

“How can I fix my depressed husband?”

“She attempted so many times, it’s just manipulation.”

Misrepresentation and misunderstanding of the facts are the basis for the above reactions and comments.  For helpful reactions that go a long way toward prevention of suicide, click here.

Today’s Helpful Word

Job 16:

“I could say the same things if you were in my place. I could spout off criticism and shake my head at you. But if it were me, I would encourage you. I would try to take away your grief.”  – Job speaking to his friends while he is suffering

***** 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.

*speech bubble by STARISOB of rgbstock.com; two woman from kozzi.com

 

Strong Support is Simple: Be There for Your Friend

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

Importance of strong supports cannot be over emphasized.  

Neither can your value as such a support.

If you have a friend, co-worker, family member, or even an acquaintance who struggles with depression, you have  opportunity to play a vital role.

There are posts on this website that offer practical ideas on how to be effective and helpful. I am not going to repeat all that today. There is one point in two sentences I am asking you to hear:

The most valuable gift you can offer is sincere, non-critical acceptance. 

The best means of giving this, is through your presence. 

People suffering with depression, especially severe depression, already know they are not living the life they want and that you want for them. Criticizing or in any way implying they are failing somehow to measure up, heaps fuel on that flame.  Maybe there is a time for that type of lecture – I do not know – but in the middle of a major depressive episode is not it. 

Neither is that when to ignore people and give them their “space.” In depression, a person is feeling unworthy. This is why you may perceive his or her withdrawal as a lack of enthusiasm for you.  In fact, it is much more likely that every fiber of your loved one’s  being is crying out for you to show you care.   

In essence, the finest, kindest, simplest act of meaningful support you can give is two-fold. (1)To listen, without teaching or offering advice. (2) To express that the one with depression is worth your time. 

Your presence does not have to be physical.  If you do not live in the same house, smaller gestures are more sustainable and you are more likely to repeat them. Texts, emails, instagram, Facebook, snail mail, phone calls… these are some options that are very valuable in the moment.  

Personal visits are nice as long as you do not go expecting to “fix” anyone. Be pleasant, avoid criticizing, and let the person know you are there. You may even sit in non-judgmental silence.  

If I could pull one common sentence out of the mouths of everyone I have met who was currently  fighting depression, it would be this. “No one gets it.” 

Here is your chance to get it. 

Today’s Helpful Word

Ephesians 5:1,2

Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

***** 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.

*jetty supports by TACLUDA; old bridge in Wales by MICROMOTH, both of rgbstock.com