Tag Archives: courage

A Toast to 2019

Compassionate Love: Displaying Compassion for Those Who Struggle with Mental Illness, Addiction, and Abuse   (c)2018 Nancy Virden, Always The Fight Ministries

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Here’s to starting over! Placing one searching foot in front of the other, may we find stability on Truth’s solid ground. May we Dare to ask and learn beyond familiar knowledge. 

Let our flailing hearts steel themselves with eternal hope. As we Advance against negative odds and uncertainty, The Highest Power will give us courage  

May our words burst forth in constructive thought. Let peace, love, and possibility from Wisdom empty the world of hate and vain arguing.    

May this next year be better than the last!

Happy New Year! 

New Year toasts have been a CompassionateLove Blog tradition for nine years. 

 2011    2012    2013    2014    2015   2016   2017    2018 

A Helpful Word for 2019:

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. Depression has been naturally triggered sometimes.  In the worst of it,  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 being incapable, or of trying 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.

Courage in the Fight (Bengals v. Steelers Among Other Things)

Compassionate Love: Displaying Compassion for Those Who Struggle with Mental Illness   (c)2016 Nancy Virden

photo-24714732-stressed-businessmanLast night was a disgrace. That is the consensus on ESPN, Social Media, and in my living room.

Throughout the football game between the Cincinnati Bengals and Pittsburgh Steelers, commentators made repeated mention of a ticking time bomb named Vontaze Burfick (Bengals). Tension throughout the evening was felt in my house as we watched. It ruined the game, and made an ugly mark on the sport.

On-field, the atmosphere of animosity began with a pre-game scuffle between the teams and ended ingloriously with personal fouls causing the Bengals to lose.

This was an important contest, the first of the playoffs. Each team no doubt brought passion for the win which theoretically could lead to the Superbowl. I’m no fan of either team (go Browns!), yet it was a cliff-hanger as the Bengals held a small lead with about a minute left in the game.

They were so close.

Then Burfick decided to take matters into his own hands. With a hard, vengeful, illegal hit against a defenseless opponent, Burfick earned a suspension and almost single-handedly lost the game for his team.

photo-24747118-courage-word-inscribed-on-soap_In one episode of Star Trek: Next Generation, Captain Piccard chastises a villain for transferring his strong emotions onto other people in an effort at not having to feel them. As the man bragged about this ability, Piccard called him a coward and added that true strength is proven in learning how to function well despite intense feelings.

I know numerous persons who regularly engage in heroic acts. Men and women in treatment centers, psychiatric hospitals and therapy groups face devastating emotions every day. We support each other in-person, over the phone, and on social media. We are survivors of abuse, addicts in recovery, and underdogs in battles against mental illness. On the outside we may not look like winners, yet are.

We are the brave who square off against immeasurable fear. Anguish is as familiar as the sunrise. Sometimes thoughts of defeat pummel us until it is too difficult to function normally. We are the honest who admit powerlessness and reach out for help. Rebound after rebound follows temporary derailment. This tenacity is inspiring to others who confront the same dangers.

Soldiers of inner wars are clearly imperfect; human weakness can prevail. It takes courage to wake up in the morning knowing yesterday’s perceived failure has injured us further. How does that saying go? If you fall seven times, stand up seven times.

It may not look like an NFL star taking home a trophy, but unlike Burfick or the Star Trek bad guy, we are not simply allowing  emotional burdens to decide the outcome.

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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 can be yours.

A Toast to 2016

Compassionate Love: Displaying Compassion for Those Who Struggle with Mental Illness, Addiction, and Abuse   (c)2016 Nancy Virden, Always The Fight Ministries

Let’s raise our glasses!

mhylgrkMay courage accompany change, endurance meet enthusiasm, and integrity lead inquiry. For truthfulness and hard work carry hope, but choice shapes character. May next year be better than the last! 

Happy New Year!

 

 

New Year toasts have been a CompassionateLove Blog tradition for six years. 

2011    2012    2013    2014    2015

 

 

 

The Courage to Change the Things I Can

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

photo-26229816-1119202014-holiday-cats-11Cinnamon the cat was a few weeks old when he was given to my youngest son. As he grew, his favorite game was hide-n-seek (Ok, that could be my son or the cat).

Cinnamon’s form of the game was to squeeze under chairs and bat at passing feet. For fourteen years, we didn’t know when those paws would catch us.

Cinnamon could be a fighter. One day, the neighbor’s German Shepherd saw Cinnamon crossing under the fence and into the dog’s territory. Within seconds, the scene was a little yellow cat, back arched, hissing at a crazily barking and threatening opponent ten times his size. I called to Cinnamon, but of course he could not leave his spot at the moment, so I called out to the dog’s owner.

It wasn’t necessary. The dog hovered just a little too close above Cinnamon’s head and out flew those kitty paws. “Yelp!” One swipe of his claws across the big beast’s nose and the cat was home free.

It had seemed from the outside that the little guy was sure to lose that battle. However, Cinnamon had the courage to change odds to his favor. If he had not acted, only God knows what would have been the end to this story.

Far from that day both in time and distance, a small circle of faces take turns glancing about the room then staring at the floor. Feet shuffle; one can hear the occasional cough or cleared throat. Sincere hellos break the silence with each new entrance. Metal folding chairs are squeezed more closely together to make room- there is always space for one more. Strangers and regular attenders alike are welcome.

Precisely on the hour, someone greets everyone with a smile. “This is a meeting of _______Anonymous. I am_______and I will be your leader tonight. Are there any other [addicts] here besides me?”

The title of this post is the second line of the famous Serenity Prayer, read and quoted and lifted to God in desperate hope during anonymous meetings around the globe. Quality decisions are made to deal with life on life’s terms as people in the process of change practice courage.

Elsewhere, in a small office, several volunteers stuff donation requests into envelopes with hope of raising enough cash to make a significant difference for their cause. A church basement across town is a scene of organized chaos as bags of clothes, toys, and food are sorted and prepared for giving to the poor. Across the oceans, courage rallies to bring clean water to whole villages.

Cinnamon might have thought himself a lion. People trying to build new lives are probably less sure of themselves. Having courage to change what we can for the human race may mean giving up something we want. There will always be the ferocious and scary looming over our heads, we are only in charge of our response.

We have the claws to fight back. Discovering how to use them is brave.

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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 qualitystockphotos.com

 

Value is in the Eye of the Beholder

Compassionate Love: Displaying compassion for those who struggle with mental illness  (c)2013 Nancy Virden 

020It’s unusual. Yes, that is the term I will use now that I know its value. When I first saw it I thought it was the ugliest piece of jewelry I’d ever seen.

To me it looked it looked like a craft project, a pin slapped together with mismatched rhinestones. No wonder it was in a thrift store. 

Now I call the pin a brooch.

One year later I returned to the store and noticed it was still there. Contrary to my taste,  I found it fascinating. Who would make something like this?  I bought it intending to use it as gag gift.

It stayed on my dresser for weeks. Finally, this past weekend I turned it over and discovered a name hand-stamped into the dark gold frame. Michal Negrin.

She is a jewelry maker from Israel who personally designs each piece bearing her name. Yes, this pin is handmade, but by the hands of an artist, not someone toying with crafts. A Google search revealed her pieces generally go for about $200. I had paid $1. 

Suddenly it became an inspirational piece that expresses adventure and a no-rules attitude. Instead of mismatched, it is creative. No gag gift here, in fact, maybe I’ll wear it.

Seriously? Value is in the eyes of the beholder.

I’ve been afraid to face a crowd and tell them of my emotions and struggles. I’d rather hide in my apartment. Fact is, I will be judged; everyone is.

A variety and hopefully minority of people will disapprove of any and all the following: my size, gender, faith, and mental health history. Some will believe I  reveal too much or not share enough, think too hard, or not think things through.  My books will be critiqued along with public speaking skills. It will happen, has already, and there is no way to stop it.

I have plowed through many life challenges and stuck to what I know to be right regardless of other people’s opinions. I can do it again. Realness and openness is a better way; it is what I want. Will some miss the point?  To them my mission is nothing but mismatched rhinestones glued together by an amateur. 

However, my Creator is an artist. He has personally designed me, put His name on me, and proudly displays me to the world.  In His eyes I am a valuable and one-of-a-kind masterpiece. He says I am worth His life.  Why would I allow anyone else to stamp me with a thrift store price?

Value is in the eyes of the beholder. Some people are blind in the soul and do not recognize the creativity and inspiration that is us. With more discerning eyes, we can see God’s priceless handiwork.

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

Running Interference. Is Anyone Else Your Business?

Compassionate Love: Displaying compassion for those who struggle with mental illness  (c)2012 Nancy Virden

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About five years ago, a very generous friend of my son’s gave him a sound system for his car.  When the woman next door observed a familiar young man looking in the vehicles where my son’s car was parked, she decided not to say anything. Soon, the driver’s window was smashed, and the new sound system, gone. Our neighbor used the all-too-common excuses: it is none of my business; I don’t need the trouble; and I don’t want to get involved. 

Many heroic stories flowed out of Boston’s tragedy during the Boston Marathon this week. The police officer who brought milk to a family under lockdown, and two men who grabbed a chair and ran, carrying a bystander who had lost both his legs, come to mind. Why were these people willing to risk their safety for strangers?

Thirty years ago, I and a friend attended our hometown July fourth fireworks show. As can be expected, leaving the park was much slower than entering it. As traffic crawled toward the  exit, ahead the line was splitting into two rows.  Eventually we saw a single car had stopped, forcing everyone to go around.

Ten minutes passed from reaching the point of seeing the car to pulling up alongside it, a distance of about forty feet.  A woman was sitting inside, unmoving, her head leaning back against the headrest, eyes closed. 

I said, “I wonder if she is ok? Maybe she is hurt?”

“She’s fine,” came the response.  

“I think we should check,” I said. 

“No, mind your own business.”

There was a decision to be made. Hundreds of cars were passing this woman, everyone had plenty of time to find out if she was fine. I questioned my judgement; maybe I was supposed to stay out of it?  Maybe there was some unspoken rule everyone but me knew?  My friend thought I should stay put, and as a teenager I cared what friends thought. 

Then it occurred to me. If we passed blindly by, the next day I would be scouring the news to see if an emergency had been reported at the park. If she was ill and rescue was slow, God forbid too slow, then I would always wonder what I could have done, and carry guilt.

At that point the decision was simple. I could not ignore the scene before my eyes. Foolishness or not, it was me I would have to face in the mirror in the morning.

Jumping out of our stationary car, I knocked on her window. She jumped, and smiled. “Are you OK?” I asked.

“Yes, just resting! Thanks for checking, I’m OK.”

Embarrassment came into play. Not only had I made a fool of myself in front of my friend, but also in plain view of who-knows how many people. Self-conscious, something deeper inside felt satisfied and at peace. All these years later, I remember that scene with a clear conscience. There are no regrets.

However, I looked at my friend differently and lost some respect for that person who I thought had been cowardly and apathetic. Since then there have been times I did not choose to act, and feel ashamed of myself as well.  

Running interference protects your own heart. You have to live with you. How my neighbor feels behind her wall of disinterest, is unknown.  I am certain the heroes in Boston can look themselves in the mirror today and know they did their best.

Compassionate love is self-sacrifice sometimes, nonetheless it allows for freedom from guilt and preserves self-respect. 

Courage answers the call to “love your neighbor.”*

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

*Mark 12:31.

We Are Not Meant To Do Life Alone: Lesson from the Other Side

Compassionate Love: Displaying Compassion for Those Who Struggle with Mental Illness, Addiction, and Abuse   (c)2012  Nancy Virden, Always The Fight Ministries

There is a story about a father whose young son was trying hard to move a large rock in their path. The boy tugged and pulled, pushed, and groaned. Placing his back on the rock and planting his feet firmly against a tree, the boy grimaced, straining every muscle to no avail. Quitting, he sank to the ground.

His  father  asked,  “Son,  did  you  use   all   of your strength?”

“Yeah, dad! I used all my strength.”

“Did you try everything you knew to do?”

“Dad, I pushed, I pulled. I tried everything.”

“You   didn’t   use   all   your   strength  or available knowledge, son. You didn’t ask me for help.”

Dust is settling today. It is partially because of my choice to stand still. Instead of allowing emotional chaos, I am reaching for one speck of dust at a time, looking it over, and doing what needs to be done with it. Many beliefs and vocabulary words are up for inspection. Negative ones are destined for the trash pile.

Well, some will remain. This is going to take a while.

There seems to be a mixture yet  of  courage  and  fear, hopelessness and yearning. I feel  determined one moment to face life with dignity, maturity, and responsibility.  Then  the  next I am nursing ideas of escape.

There is always  the  proverbial  man  with  no  feet  to consider. While I cry about having no shoes, he struggles. Depending on the care of others for his basic needs, he calls out and people come. He is not afraid to admit, “I have no feet” or “I need your help, would you carry me today?” If he is afraid, he is doing it  anyway.

What does he have I do not have? Nothing, except a wherewithal to keep on living with hope. So maybe  I will wind up always barefoot, hobbling over a stony path and challenged by pain. Still, I can walk. I have been given the tools to build a whole new mindset, a blueprint for a “Can Do” attitude that includes developing the willingness to ask for help.

There is a path to walk. Whether or not I can see around each bend and ascertain why I am going there is moot. Walking is my purpose. The path’s existence is enough reason to strive.

Allowing others to walk with me is my goal for today.

Today’s Helpful Word