Tag Archives: Depression

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

Will Has No Power

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

Today’s guest post is by Tom Whitesel, pastor and host of the 24Today podcast. You can read and listen to more of his work at 24Today.org.

was at a Convenience Store, standing in line, waiting to pay for gas. As a part of the “convenience experience”, a Hershey candy bar (with almonds) was beautifully displayed and easily within my reach.

I find these bars amazing. For starters, it is amazing when the maker of the candy bar actually takes the time to print their name on the bar. That’s amazing! This very fact alone, says that a Hershey’s bar deserves some consideration. And I have considered plenty of them over the years.


As I studied this work of art, I said to myself, “I haven’t had one of those for a long, long time. You know what would taste good right about now? A Hershey candy bar with almonds!”


I have a wonderful friend inside of me. His name is “Will”.

Will reminded me that if I make the decision to fully consider a Hershey candy bar (with almonds)... I also will add 210 calories and 26g’s of carbs to my body.

Will is smart that way.


Will can also be strategic.

Will convinced me to re-focus my eyes on the Beef Jerky (also conveniently placed on the counter). I’m not a fan of Beef Jerky, so I could look at that stuff all day long and not be tempted.


Before I new it, I had paid for my gasoline and was back in my car. And the Hershey bar (with almonds)remained conveniently in the store.

Will had won!


Last week was a rough week. For a reason unknown to me, my old foe (DEPRESSION) came calling.

For the first four days, I did what I do by nature. I relied on Will to get me out of it.

Will wasn’t strong enough on Monday or on Tuesday. Will lost on Wednesday and Thursday also.

On Friday morning, God taught me three truths about Will:

  1. Will can be smart.
  2. Will can be strategic.
  3. Will isn’t very strong.

So [still on Friday morning] I desperately began to plead to God for help. I said, “Father, I don’t have it in me to be able to defeat DEPRESSION today. I have tried every day this week. but I have lost each time. I am COMPLETELY helpless. I surrender this battle to You. I’m asking You to defeat DEPRESSION today.”

I followed that prayer with continuing my YouVersion Bible App daily reading. Miraculously, in about 10 minutes, the depression fog began to lift.

Next, I strategically asked God to replace DEPRESSION with His fruit (Galatians 5:22-25):

  • Love
  • Joy
  • Peace
  • Patience
  • Kindness
  • Goodness
  • Faithfullness
  • Gentleness
  • Self Control

Will was back at work, doing some strategic thinking.

But the POWER came from Jesus.


Now, four days later, I continue to be out of the fog of depression. And I am still pleading every day with Jesus. “Just get me through this 24 hour period,” I say.

And He has. One day at a time!


I still like Will and need his help. But Jesus is where strength comes from.


You also have things in your life which Will can’t get you through.

Is it fear? Is it doubt? Is it loneliness?

If you are like me, you have more than one.


Summarizing…

  • Will can’t give you power.
  • Surrender the battle to Jesus.
  • Until you get to the level in which you actually plead to Jesus for help, you might not really want it bad enough. You might be asking Jesus to help Will. But, it has to be the OTHER WAY AROUND. It’s Jesus first. Then Will can help Jesus.
  • Will has no power.
  • Jesus has the power

***** COMMENTS ALWAYS WELCOME

From Nancy:  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.

“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

 

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

 

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.

 

 

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

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

Help Hurting People Without Hurting Yourself: Summary of a Plan that Works

Compassionate Love Blog: Displaying compassion for those who fight mental illness, addiction, and abuse  (c)2016  Nancy Virden, Always the Fight Ministry

Your family member, co-worker, spouse, romantic partner, friend, employee, or student is depressed. Majorly depressed.  You wonder how you can help, if you should become involved, and when life will return to normal.

What can you do with all the mixed emotions you are experiencing? You fear too much stress, and perhaps even a case of your own depression. The key is insight.

Insight guides your compassion 

Before we can operate in a meaningful way, we have to start with knowledge. Depression is one word with two definitions. You may hear, “I am so depressed, this weather makes me want to stay home in bed.” That is an example of the first definition: a state of being sad, low mood, feeling down.

Depression under the second definition is a potentially disabling or fatal condition. Several serious, combined symptoms, causing observable struggles with daily functioning, will occur most of the day most days for at least two weeks before a clinician will diagnose major depression.

Every one of us has nights we wish we did not have to wake up in the morning. Grief, burnout, and bad days are part of life.  Yet most people will never experience anything more than these blues. This is why  understanding the difference is beneficial as you care for your loved one who is majorly depressed.  

Insight into personal boundaries helps you and your loved one cope

Thoughtfully established boundaries protect you from losing peace of mind. Contrary to a familiar definition of “lines in the sand,” boundaries are not about stopping someone else’s negativity or demands. Think about it – you have no control over other people’s choices or over external events. None.   

Your power begins when you draw a circle around yourself. Ask, “What will I allow in here with me? What will I accept from others? What will I carry, and how will I respond?” 

Healthy boundaries are not selfish! They are doable and successful. Compassionate Boundaries, a nine-part series of posts, shows the way.  As you develop your yeses and nos, freedom will surprise you.

Meanwhile, boundaries based on realistic limitations protect you from burnout. You remain present and able to help your depressed loved one without resentment.  

Insight into what to do or say heals your fear

We want to do what is right. Stigma and myths cause us to hesitate out of fear of saying or doing the wrong thing. The gold standard of support is letting  one who struggles know you care. 

No, talking about depression does not make it worse. No, your loved one cannot snap out of it.  Yes, professional treatment works for most people. Yes, you can confidently know what to do if a person speaks of suicide. Yes, you have many options. 

Non-critical acceptance is important. Scolding does not help. Invitations, gifts, acts of service and more, provide some water in the wilderness of depression. Anything you have to offer matters, even if you think it is little.

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BookThis Practical Seminar: How to Help Hurting People without Hurting Yourself

This seminar is designed to shed insight into depression and anxiety,  show practical ways supports do help, and provide necessary tools for healthy boundaries which protect everyone concerned.   
  • Analogies and stories
  • Interactive 
  • Practical answers to common questions 
  • Factual responses to stigmas and myths 

Please email Nancy at NancyVirden.hope@gmail.com, or use this convenient form.   For more information follow these links:   Testimonials      Bio       

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***** 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.

Parable Worthy of a King: Your Suffering Can Be Good for You

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

David was a king of ancient times. He lived through great suffering, was subject to murderous threats, and loved the God of the Hebrews, the great I AM as recorded by Moses.

He wrote many of the Biblical Psalms, and may have authored the following from Psalm 119. “Remember your word to your servant, in which you have made me hope. This is my comfort in my distress,  that your promise gives me life.” (verses 49, 50)

***A Parable***

At first, she was so small that many believed her insignificant.  Any moment she might be stomped, eaten, or drowned in torrential rain. She survived her earliest days, yet the challenges continued. 

Driven by a natural wish for independence, she ventured out from what little security she knew.  Reactions varied.  “Ugly!”  “Cute!”  “Avoid that! ” “Soft and fuzzy!”

She was wary as people ran screaming at the sight of her or dangerously studied her with curiosity. She tried to blend in to her surroundings, hoping to hide in plain sight.

No one seemed to care who she would one day become.

***David***

The beginning of this parable runs a close parallel to David’s early life.  He was a mere  shepherd boy when first chosen as future king. The current ruler pursued him relentlessly to kill him. David ran for his life and hid in caves.

 ***Parable continued***

No longer willing to live among such danger and rejection, our heroine decided to look up. Maybe higher she would find a place to rest!  Climbing day after day,  she searched for peace and a safe place to belong. 

The endless trek nearly depleted her strength. She wondered if the promise from her Maker would come true. At last overwhelmed,  she stopped trying. Wrapping herself in seclusion, she waited for the end.

***David***

David too, experienced moments of fatigue and discouragement.  He wrote, “My soul is in deep anguish. How long, Lord, how long?” (Psalm 6:3).  Not only was he forced to flee a murderous king, David’s son also tried to kill him. People lied, spread rumors and gloated over his pain. David had his followers, however at times he felt very alone.

His consistent prayers in periods of grief and despondency were variations of the same theme: Turn, Lord, and deliver me; save me because of your unfailing love.” (Psalm 6:4) In all his struggles, David put his trust in Almighty God, the difference-maker.  

***Parable continued***

From the outside, no one saw anything but a dry, presumably dead leftover.  Nonetheless, buried inside her despair, our champion-in-waiting put up the ultimate fight.  Placing hope in God’s promise,  she surrendered what little energy she had left.  God taught her to use it wisely.  Her woefully slow task of change was wrenching and tedious. She cried in agony. 

Beyond the scope of disparaging eyes, metamorphosis took place. After a long time, she cracked the dead outer shell and peered through the sliver of light. Uncertain yet brave, she completely broke it open and saw sky.  God whispered,  “Trust me. Take a leap of faith.”

People rejoiced at the sight of such vibrant color showcased against the brown, withered past. A few joined her in  praise to God as she stretched out new wings, and flew into freedom. 

***David***

David realized suffering had brought him into profound realization of his true purpose. It had all been worth it – betrayals, living as a fugitive, and even the sorrow of losing people he loved.  Nothing compared to the lessons learned as he and the Great I AM wretsled with his human pain.  

David went on to fulfill his destiny as a great king, and a man after God’s own heart.  Intimacy with the promise-giver, forged in struggle, had set him free. 

 Today’s Helpful Word

Psalm 119:71  

My suffering was good for me, for it taught me to pay attention to your decrees.  -David
    

******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, 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, 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: Butterfly by WEIRDVIS , caterpillar by MICHAELAW, both of rgbstock.com