Tag Archives: emotions

Jesus Offers Safety in the World of Emotions and Vulnerability

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

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When emotions are stifled as a child, you never learn how to use or regulate them.

Adult friends have said over the years, “You are open to a point, and then no one can cross that line;” or “You seem unapproachable. Above all the rest of us.”

What friends did not know is the guilt I carried and the continuous reel of tongue lashings I gave myself every day for feeling, let alone sharing any of those feelings whether happy or not-so happy. Vulnerability was downright threatening because of what I would do to myself.

I wasn’t honest about that. God knows I needed help, lots of it, but it seemed too much to ask.

I didn’t want to burden anyone with it and didn’t know what to say anyway. Yet that led to crashes that did burden people in big ways. Rarely reaching out or reaching out in ways that would not actually lead to help, kept me stuck.

Oh believe me, I kept begging – for someone, anyone – to meet my needs. Desperately screaming all my life- does anyone care? I hurt, I’m sad, I’m lost! Angrily demanding, why aren’t you rescuing me?

No one heard because I didn’t scream out loud.

Vulnerability for Wellness

When we come out of unloving or abusive families, it is common to feel different from everyone else, like we are on the outside of a huge secret. We may not know how or where to find emotional safety – or even believe it exists.

In Christ, we are amazingly safe to be vulnerable with people. He led me to wise counselors and then helped me to lower my shield. Learning openness and honesty has not only been freeing, but it helps other people to come out from the shadows.

Vulnerability is hard. We fear jumping off that proverbial cliff of trust – what if no one is there to respond in meaningful or healthy ways? We are afraid that rejection or apathy or even betrayal will leave us in a crumpled heap at the bottom.

It could happen – from the human standpoint.

In Christ though, we have safety. He is our enduring Catcher. Vulnerability with others is important for mental health and well-being. Landing in the tender clutch of Jesus makes jumping worth the risk.

Today’s Helpful Word  

1 Peter 5:7

Cast all your anxiety on [Jesus] because he cares for you.

 

**** 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 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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What if there is a reason?

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

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

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

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

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

Emotional Safety

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

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

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

NOTE:  I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I speak only from personal experiences with and observations of mental illness, abuse, and addiction. In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental or behavioral health care.
If you are struggling emotionally today or feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Hope and help are yours.
*********OTHER NOTES
DISORDERS are characterized by their duration and intensity.  They present a challenge to regular functioning over longer periods of time.Anxiety Disorder has more extreme symptoms than the type of anxiety everyone feels before a driving test or meeting a significant other’s parents. Mood Disorders are more than the blues and mood swings people feel with the change of weather.  Sometimes it is difficult for a person with a disorder to find any cause.

*Paul and anxiety

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

Death, Murder, and Denial. Emotions Call for Attention

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

Denial does not work because bottled up emotions will come out some other way, affecting our physical and mental health.  Refusing to talk about something keeps us isolated, alone with our interpretation of events.

This is one of myriad reasons my suggestion is consistent –  seek a professional, knowledgeable perspective.

At 18 and single, Kimberly had already experienced pregnancy twice. Her first baby died just before birth,  and Kimberly was forced to deliver a stillborn daughter.  The second pregnancy was a rebound one, she said. 

When we first met, she was in the first trimester of the second pregnancy. She was excited!  Her strong family support system, including her mother, helped her cope. Her dreams for another baby girl knew no bounds.  As we talked, I grew to like what appeared as Kimberly’s overcomer attitude.

Family death and murder

Then her mother suddenly died. Kimberly spoke fondly of her, and expressed regret they would not have more time.  Her emotions were well-hidden. “Everything happens for a reason,” she said. I never saw another reaction. 

By now the nursery was furnished. Baby clothes lined dresser drawers. Packages of diapers collected against a wall. Her much-loved child was due in four weeks. Then the unthinkable happened. 

One afternoon, her boyfriend’s sister assaulted her, beating and pushing.  Kimberly’s pre-born baby died.  She filed charges and eventually won a homicide case against the assailant. 

The next time I saw her, she was unemotional. In the course of one year, this young woman had lost two babies and her mother. Yet she showed no pain.

Hidden emotions will spill…

Her behavior told a different story.  Only one month after the assault,  she invited me to walk her through her third round of hope and dreams. For months, all she could talk about was her developing little boy. 

“Are you sad?” I asked, referring to so many losses.

“I was, but now I have this baby to care for,” she said with a smile. “Everything happens for a reason.”

I’m convinced  she was coping the best she knew how – by tackling one storm at a time.  That’s an effective, temporary coping skill.  However, it leaves us dependent on the whims of circumstances outside of our control.  Buried emotions powerfully push us toward immediate relief.  The resulting lack of awareness does not guide us toward making healthier or wiser decisions. 

I hope for the sake of her longterm physical, mental, and spiritual health, she eventually found the will to face, experience, and share her feelings with a professional grief counselor.  

We all live with pain. God draws us to himself, gives of himself, and tells us to reach out to one another. Why? Because none of us are meant to do this alone. We thrive in honesty. 

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.

 

How GAD (Generalized Anxiety Disorder) Can Lead to Wholeness

Compassionate Love: Displaying Compassion for Those Who Struggle with Mental Illness   (c)2017 Nancy Virden, Always The Fight Ministries

Anxiety Disorders are not what many people without them think they are. They are not nervousness like before an exam. They are not even exaggerated nervousness before an exam. Anxiety Disorders are not a choice to be fearful and overcome by worry.

While I can pray and sense a grounding and safety in that, God has not chosen to remove disordered anxiety from me. What I mean is that it is a battle harder some days to overcome than others.

I think I know why.

God wants me whole. Yep, that’s right, God is allowing an anxiety disorder to make life more challenging because his goal is for me to know total wholeness.

Several months ago, overwhelming disordered anxiety forced me to speak for the first time about a lifelong issue I’d determined to take to my grave. Over years of therapy and despite great talk about the changing of my worldview and new start, I’d held this particular door shut.

It was probably easy for some people to judge me for having anxiety. But God knows what he is doing In his time, and in his way, he is using this to show me there is more to be healed.

Emotions teach us if we will listen.  Ignoring them often hurts us physically as well.

Anxiety mixed with other strong and painful emotions led to a GI bleed that led to hospitalization which led to swelling which led to a hurt ankle which has kept me more or less wheelchair bound for the last 6- 8 weeks. Surgery may be around the corner. Maybe all that could have been avoided if I had listened to anxiety and talked it out years ago. God gave me enough chances, that’s for sure. 

This process has drawn me closer to God and opened my eyes to important truths. Always The Fight Ministries and other aspects of life have changed. My soul and mind enjoy greater rest because I was forced to deal with an anxiety disorder.

Please remember, it is not helpful to tell someone with an anxiety disorder to shake it off, or quit being a worry wart. That is because anxiety disorders are not normal anxiety (hence the name “disorder”). They are complex.

Perhaps the better option is to offer a listening ear. 

Today’s Helpful Word

Psalm 25:4-5

Show me the right path, O Lord point out the road for me to follow. Lead me by your truth and teach me, for you are the God who saves me. All day long I put my hope in you.

 

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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.

  • pics by Kozzi.com

Lesson From Under a Rock: No Shame in Feelin’ the Music

Compassionate Love: Displaying compassion for those who struggle with mental illness   (c) 2017 Nancy Virden, Always The Fight Ministries

Somehow, I am sure the lead singer of Maroon Five was not expecting to change someone’s life that day.  

The foundation

My life was spent believing it is wrong to have or express emotions, especially strong ones. That does not mean I never showed them, but simply much less often than I felt them. Guilt and shame for letting people see this weakness – having emotions – was constant.

Smiling at a stranger or telling a friend I care felt awkward and out-of-place. Helpful gestures, done in genuine compassion, laid me out afterward with self-doubt.  Was it appropriate to show empathy?  Anger and hurt were reasons to beat myself up for days, weeks, and years for having dared. 

Life experience helped me learn some social “rules,” and Christ Jesus changed my scarred heart to a compassionate one. Still,  showing emotion was shaky ground. 

The fallout

One hides from life when emotions are thought bad and shameful.  Even emotive vocabulary escaped my attention.  What was obvious to others, I often missed.

 After a mass shooting, reporters announced that counselors had arrived on the scene. Shocked, I thought, why would anyone need that? How can it be ok to say such a thing in public? Those survivors must be humiliated.

Eventually, pent-up emotions landed me in the hospital for major depression.

Enter Adam Levine

Coaches on the TV singing contest, “The Voice,” taught performers to use what I thought was  a voice inflection skill.  What else could they mean by instructing contestants to inject emotion into their vocals?

One day, I heard Adam Levine say emotions are why people make and listen to music.  I stared in wonder. People want to feel? He just said that aloud?

Therapists had been slowly unveiling emotions to me and my right to express them for about two years.  The Levine epiphany made me simultaneously excited and embarrassed. The world appreciates music for the feelings it generates and no one is ashamed of it. Had I been living under a rock?

Crawling out

At first, checking for emotions in any given moment seemed childish.  Noticing a stiff back, racing heart, shaking, and other physical red flags, I learned to ask what was going on emotionally.  Naming anger, fear, disappointment, or any feeling as the cause, allowed me to question why.

Aware now of what most emotions are trying to tell me,  facing situations instead of running away brings healing.  Resolutions  replace resignation.  Acceptance abolishes avoidance.  Expression erases exile.  

Emotions are welcome although not always pleasant visitors.  Temptation to hide is stronger than I at times.  Mental muscles stretch when I take feelings to God and to supportive friends. Having barely crawled out from under that rock with my life, it is good to know there is more on the outside. 

If you can relate, there is hope for joy.  God’s love is eternal and unconditional. Given time and wise support, it is possible to learn how to love yourself, emotions and all.

 Today’s Helpful Word

Psalm 43:5

“Why am I so sad?  Why am I so troubled?  I will put my hope in God,  and once again I will praise him,  my savior and my God.”

 

***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.

 

Plan Your (Healthy) Escape. 5 Ways to Prepare for Emotional Hurricanes

Compassionate Love: Displaying compassion for those who struggle with mental illness   (c) 2017 Nancy Virden, Always The Fight Ministries

Irma the hurricane has the United States enraptured and anxious today as she devastates Florida. Millions of people foresaw the need to run away nearly a week ago. Others stayed behind, flirting with hope that Irma would not bother their area too much. One such couple insisted to their family as late as Friday night that they had a plan of escape if it came to that. 

I hope the plan worked, because as I write this, their city is being pummelled. 

We know life has struggles. Yet how many of us plan ahead to deal with our anxiety or depression disorders?  One of the most important decisions we can make today is to know our healthy options.  Strong emotions will threaten to overwhelm us. Still, they are only threats. We control how much power we give them.

An old hymn has a line that applies today.  “On… solid rock I stand; all other ground is sinking sand…”  

Where is that solid rock in our emotional well-being?

  1. Know what you can and cannot control. You cannot stop a hurricane, and you will not be able to prevent life from hurting once in a while either.  Focus on what you can change or that to which you can cling.  Time spent worrying about outside forces or other people builds anxiety and depression.  (9 Coping skills) 
  2. Practice faithfully your anti-anxiety coping skills (Coping skill 1)(Coping skill 2) You will be pleasantly surprised how quickly they become automatic. 
  3. Know why life matters. Be prepared to fight for yours in the face of growing depression. Write down all the reasons people, pets, even God want and need you alive. Keep the list in an obvious place. 
  4. Know where to turn for help. Have local crisis line numbers available; call 1-800-273-TALK for quick access. If you have intent or a plan for suicide, do not hesitate to call 911 or go to your nearest emergency room.
  5. Build yourself an ark. When those crashing surges of pain or fear threaten to undo you, an ark will carry you through the storm. My ark is Jesus, yes, however my feet are solid on the promises of his Word. Years ago I was told to memorize Psalm 91. Try it!

The context of that line in the old hymn is this.

On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand,
All other ground is sinking sand.

When darkness veils His lovely face,
I rest on His unchanging grace;
In every high and stormy gale,
My anchor holds within the veil.

His oath, His covenant, His blood
Support me in the whelming flood;
When all around my soul gives way,
He then is all my hope and stay.

Today’s Helpful Word

Psalm 62:6-9 MSG

He’s solid rock under my feet, breathing room for my soul, An impregnable castle: I’m set for life.  My help and glory are in God. So trust him absolutely, people; lay your lives on the line for him. God is a safe place to be.

 

 

**********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.

Beach pic by MICROMOTH and damaged home pic by PAPARABBIT on rgbstock.com

As Seen on Psych Central – 6 Words That Led to a Suicide Attempt: “She’s Just a Crybaby. Stay Here.”

Compassionate Love Blog: Displaying compassion for those who struggle with mental illness   (c)2017  Nancy Virden, Always the Fight Ministry


Today’s blog is my article published on Psych Central this week.
     click title ⇓

6 Words that Led to a Suicide Attempt: “She’s Just a Crybaby. Stay Here”

Today’s Helpful Word

Revelation 21:4(NLT)

“He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.” (Promise from God)

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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.

pic by LUSI on rgbstock.com

I solation

Compassionate Love: Displaying Compassion for Those Who Struggle with Mental Illness   (c)2015 Nancy Virden

photo-24779100-frowning-woman

I  solation.

I am not sure it is ok to bother anyone with my

happiness, pain, proud moment, fear

loneliness

I am by myself with no one coming to help, no one to rescue me

of course!

I am inadequate, ugly, stupid, always making mistakes

people are hurt by me, tired of me

Who are these who tell me to turn my mood around, change my thoughts?

I am weak, cannot bring improvement to this world!

they do not see

I’m not worth fighting for

I will not tell anyone of my experiences or opinions

I’ll skip the meeting, crawl under the covers, not call anyone and refuse calls,

stay home

I’m ashamed, and

better off alone.

************

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.

*pictures from qualitystockphotos.com