Tag Archives: coping

Realists, Be Realistic!

Compassionate Love: Displaying Compassion for Those Who Struggle with Mental Illness or Abuse  (c)2019 Nancy Virden, Always The Fight Ministries

people doing marathon
Photo by Snapwire on Pexels.com

Positive thinking and denial relate to our mental health in much the same way. 

Before a big race, a positive thinker says, “I’ve already won the trophy because I believe I have.”  A denier says, “I don’t have to run. I will win.”

Who of these two earns the trophy?  Of course, neither receive anything because they do not put in the work.  In this way, both positive thinking and denial share the same result. They thrive in delusion. 

Denial has never served me well. It holds me in stuck mode, neither moving forward or back. Positive thinking keeps me stagnant as I wait for good things to fall in my lap. 

Meanwhile, a realist runs the race and to his surprise, crosses the finish line first!  He says, “Odds are I will not win again.” So the next year he does not run.

A defense for negativity is often, “I’m not a pessimist, I’m a realist.” However if joy exists,  why can’t realists say, “Tomorrow could be better than today”?

Some of us struggle with mental conditions that help to make life challenging. Significant others may disappoint.  Emotional scars from past injury weigh us down.  A win seems afar off, impossible, or not worth chasing. 

It is in these times that paying close attention to whatever beauty is around us trains our mind to refocus on the possibilities of hope.

You have heard people who are emotionally revived speak. I am one of them. Words I choose tell of newfound peace, gratitude, and strength for the fight.  

How do people in chronic struggle with pain or illness go about living?  I am one of them too.  The key is doing what I love. The joy of participation in life overcomes defeat.  

These stories are every bit as real as troubles we face. 

Let’s not wish pain away. Let’s not deny pain exists. Instead, let’s be genuine realists who understand the power of change.  

Today’s Helpful Word  

2 Corinthians 5:17-18  (AMP)

“Therefore if anyone is in Christ [that is, grafted in, joined to Him by faith in Him as Savior], he is a new creature [reborn and renewed by the Holy Spirit]; the old things [the previous moral and spiritual condition] have passed away. Behold, new things have come [because spiritual awakening brings a new life].  But all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ …”


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 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. or go to your nearest emergency room. (for international emergency numbers, go here ). Hope and help are yours.




Tearful? Racing Thoughts? Unable to Concentrate? Consider this:

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

Maybe you are normal!

Those happy people

Life is often hard. Reactions to stress or disappointment  may include tears, racing thoughts, and trouble concentrating. We do not feel like ourselves at those times and wish we could be normal like other folks.

They smile, laugh,  and accomplish plenty seemingly without excess strain.  Even when aware of the troubles others suffer, we still tend to assume they are handling life with strength and courage.  We however, are falling apart.

Consider two facts. please

1) Everyone presents strength. It is what we do.  Deflection (“I’m alright, you?”), dismissal (“no worries”), and bravado (“I’m pulling through”) are often viewed as acceptable forms of suffering.  An honest, “I’m falling apart” or “I need your support” may be met with skepticism and withdrawal.

In this social atmosphere, is it any wonder we wear masks? Brave people reveal the truth but pay a price, too. By many they are accepted and embraced.  Some will judge them with ignorance and stigma.

Much of what we assume about the happiness of others is subjective at best. Perhaps nearly each person is hiding difficulty as we tend to do.

2). Comparing our insides with the outsides of others accomplishes nothing healthy.  Any guess as to the wellbeing of another person is inadequate. We judge from bias based on our experiences and interpretation of what we observe.

Carol greets guests with a vibrant smile in her job as hotel manager.  Sims goes about his work with typical reliability.  Keisha continues to chauffeur her children to activities. Upon first glance would you suspect Carol doubts her worth, Sims feels he is waiting to die, or that  Keisha battles horrific flashbacks?

In our misery we may see what others present and think, “I wish I was happy like they are.”

True courage

Again I suggest, maybe your tearfulness, racing thoughts, and inability to concentrate are normal.  What would not be so common is courage to reach out for wise counsel.  Even one visit with a competent therapist may improve your point of view.  Further sessions can include skills for handling similar challenges in the future.

Are you normal?  Wisdom admits imperfection and the need for each other.  Go ahead, give professional counsel a try.  Support groups too are terrific for proving just how well we fit in with the rest of the human race. 


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.

More than Cutting: Understanding Self-injury and What You Can Do to Help Someone Stop

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

Yesterday a friend joked about cutting, a serious self-injurious behavior some people fall into for a variety of reasons. It is commonly viewed as an adolescent female problem. My friend meant no disrespect to those who struggle with this, but I realize it must seem very strange to someone with limited knowledge of this behavior.

What self-injury IS

Clinically known as non-suicidal self-injury or NSSI,  self-injury is a coping mechanism for dealing with difficult emotions and mood.  

Self-injury is deliberate mutilation of one’s body through cutting, burning, and other injurious behaviors.  It crosses all age, gender, economic, national, occupational, social, sexual, racial, religious, and educational lines.  Clearly, self-injury is not limited to adolescent girls.  According to  studies, at least 35 percent of self-injurers may be male. *

For a more in-depth article from the American Psychological Association on self-injury and it’s relation to social issues, mental health,  eating disorders, and future suicide attempts, see Who Self-Injures by Tori DeAngelis.

What self-injury IS NOT

Let’s be clear on what “self-injury” is not. It is not tattoos, piercings, plastic surgery, or nail-biting unless the goal behind these choices is to deliberately cause pain and harm to one’s body. 

Self-injury is certainly not normal, and is often confused with suicidal tendencies.  People who self-injure are often doing what they know to do to face life, not die.

How self-injury WORKS in the body

Endorphins are a biological calming chemical that  release during and after self-injury.  

My dad used to joke when I complained of a stomach ache, “Let me stomp on your toe and you’ll forget all about the stomach ache.” This is a loose interpretation of one of the purposes behind self-injury; it draws one’s attention from strong emotions, anxiety, or numbness one does not want to feel.

The DANGERS of self-injury

Self-injury teaches nothing about healthy coping skills.  It does not improve any circumstance, relationship, or self-image. It creates a false sense of control, and must be repeated to continue to work.  It is addcitive and difficult for a self-injurer to stop. The behavior will have to increase in frequency and level of damage to achieve desired results. Later, regret over scars may interfere with a positive self-image, human connection, or intimacy.

What does NOT HELP someone who self-injures

When someone we know is engaging in self-injury, it is not helpful to make a comparison to what we or anyone else in the world is suffering. “You do not have it so bad,” or “I had problems with my family too, but you don’t see me cutting myself,” is the same as dismissing a person’s emotional pain as not worth taking seriously.  Instead of recognizing an obvious need for expressing and learning how to manage emotions,  we add more rejection to the mix.

We cannot stop his or her self-injurious behavior. Each person has to decide whether to practice self-care.  A more effective means of influencing the situation is to avoid panic and other reactionary responses fueled by high emotion.  

Often, it is best to not bring up the topic of self-injury unnecessarily and to avoid discussing details of injuries or looking at scars because this can trigger compulsive behavior.  

What WILL HELP someone who self-injures

Distraction may buy time until an impulse lessens. One young woman would go for a run when she felt the urge to cut. She acknowledged it did not “cure” the urge to self-injure, but used up adrenaline and bought her time to change her mind.  Perhaps there is an activity you and a recovering self-injurer could do together. 

Understand the problem is not self-injury.  It is the self-injurer’s unmanaged emotions or mood and perhaps the relationships or circumstances surrounding the struggle that need addressing.  Point a self-injurious person to competent and often professional help.

Discuss the situation openly without judgment. Listen to his or her needs even if those needs do not make sense to you right away.  When love is compassionate instead of controlling, it is gentle. It supports each person’s value and ability to learn healthy ways. Love also celebrates each step forward.

Today’s Helpful Word

1 Corinthians 13:4  

Love is patient, love is kind.



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

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

*From Who Self-injures by Tony Deangelis on the American Psychological Association website. Retrieved on March 17, 2018 from http://www.apa.org/monitor/2015/07-08/who-self-injures.aspx