Tag Archives: friends

3 Ideas to Turn Around Your Post-Thanksgiving Crash

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

q8p4W06An emotional crash following Thanksgiving is probably as common as turkey dinners. These crashes come in different strengths.

For one, the crash may last a few minutes and have little more than an extra piece of pie to blame. As blood sugar levels bounce around, we can feel a little moody. 

Another person may sense strongly the disappointments of yet another family gathering. Having entered the holiday hoping for a new and improved experience, one may leave believing nothing will ever change. This crash ranges anywhere between sadness to major depression to despair. 

Then there is the host, who after weeks of preparation is left with great memories and the question, “What am I supposed to do next?” This let-down is about tiredness, a decline in adrenaline, and perhaps the return to a less-than exciting routine.   

Whatever the source of our emotional crash, we have the power to turn it around!

  1. Take care of your body. TLC (tender loving care) never hurt anyone. Rest, eat right, and stretch and exercise. Pace yourself. Allow some of the so-called urgent matters to wait for a few days. 
  2. Take care of your supportive relationships. If you are peopled-out, perhaps send a simple text to a friend expressing your love and intention to hibernate for a day or two.  Reach out to those who are most valuable to your sense of well-being. Offer them the light of joy too. 
  3. Take care of your mind. Fill your thoughts with good memories, doable plans for the future, and positive distractions. Ideas about next year’s Thanksgiving do not have to be decided today! Instead, hope may rise as you consider meeting a goal at work, or seeing a friend for lunch. What produces life and strength in your thoughts? Embrace that.

Our emotional crash after Thanksgiving does not have to own the coming days and weeks. Stay in the moment, taking one day at a time, and enjoy today. 

Today’s Helpful Word

Matthew 11:28-30

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” -Jesus

***** 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.

 

Pumpkin by JULISCALZI on rgbstock.com

 

Embrace Your Today Family

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

13dff4d3a114e75f48eebc000feeee39

Charlie Brown and the Peanuts Gang are some of my favorite people. This Thanksgiving, my table is adorned with all of them. A picture of the infamous Charlie Brown Thanksgiving meal hangs on the wall.  My intention is to serve little snack cups with samples of Snoopy’s cuisine: popcorn, pretzels, jelly beans, and toast.

Though members of the Peanuts gang had relatives and homes, they chose to spend holiday time together. To the main characters,  Lucy, Linus, Sally, Marcie, Peppermint Patty, Pigpen, Franklin, Violet, Charlie, Snoopy, and Woodstock, this group was family.

Some of us have little to no family with whom to spend Thanksgiving or any holiday. Perhaps family memories and members have faded to the past. Strife or tragedy may have prevented a sense of family at all. Most likely, the culprit of broken ties is a mix of distance and time.

We have, or can build, a Today family.  Temporary families dot my past. My family of origin briefly existed. Visits with extended family were short and far-between. My friends became my family followed by my (now ex) husband and children.

Everywhere I’ve lived or built a social circle, “family” has included persons both related and unrelated to me. One option is to look back and bemoan the loss of many of these relationships. Embracing a Today family sounds like a happier choice.

This year, I have invited relatives not seen in about 10 years. Jon and Tim, my sons, will also be joining us. Last year, two women had dinner here, while for a couple years prior I sat around feeling sorry for myself.

See the progression? Learning to look after my needs is an arduous task. In doing so, others are also blessed. It is worth the anxiety (where will everyone sit?), the money (lots of food!), and stepping out of my comfort zone.

I encourage anyone without a technically-correct family to celebrate the family you have today. Friends, neighbors, shut-ins, people at the homeless shelter  – all can be members of your family if you reach out in courage.

And you will be their family too.

three smiling women beside man holding smartphone

Today’s Helpful Word

1 John 4:19

“We love because he first loved us.” 

 

 

***** 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.

*photo of friends: rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

Wise Advice for Finding Emotionally Safe Listeners

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

It seems a healthy idea to think through our choices of confidants.  Not everyone is safe. 

So-called friends who gossip and speak insultingly of you behind your back are not trustworthy. Unfortunately, because they want to be in-the-know, you may find them close by when you need to share.

Don’t.

You can recognize them by their choice of words or tone when they talk about others. A woman asked recently about defining gossip. Gossip is talking about a person behind their back without his or her permission. One article, Bible Verses About Gossip*, says it  this way, “Whether the people talking didn’t mean direct harm, the result of gossip is always broken trust and hurt feelings. Gossip can be defined as information about the behavior or personal life of other people, often without the full truth revealed or known.”

I made a costly mistake confiding in a woman  who often told me about intimate troubles of other people.  Seeing the problem, I rationalized it away.  Later I realized she shared even the most private of confessions and admissions with her husband. She inserted negative judgments into half-true stories she told  mutual friends. 

It pays to feel out a person’s attitudes before opening up. With regard to mental health topics, simple questions like, “What do you think about all the talk on mental illness in the news these days?” will help reveal stigmatized views. 

Take your time. Look at character traits. What have you witnessed?  Does this person have control over her tongue or is she opinionated to a fault?  Does he patronize or condescend?

When we are in pain, or blinded by a desperate need to trust, we may rationalize the behavior of others.  This is normal. I encourage you to develop a carefully selected group of friends who over time prove they are safe.  It is also a good idea to have a therapist or pastor in your corner. 

Once you have a trustworthy support system,  take a risk. We do need each other, after all. 

 **********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, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Hope and help are yours.

*Bible Verses About Gossip. Compiled and Edited by BibleStudyTools Staff on 2/4/2015. Retrieved on May 5, 2018 from https://www.biblestudytools.com/topical-verses/bible-verses-about-gossip/

 

Want to Share Your Mental Health Story? Be Wise

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

For any of us who have struggled with mental illness and gone public about it, sometimes there is a price to pay.

Unfortunate stigma has people believing that 1) suicide attempt survivors are violent; 2) anyone with a mental illness is unreliable; and 3) living with a mental illness means one could “go off” at any time. 

If I were hiring and believed all the above, it would be natural to hesitate. It is tough to explain the truth to potential employers when no one will offer an interview. 

Trust is difficult to regain. I have friends and family who still believe that people with mental illness are likely violent. It is disappointing because i thought by now they will have heard me and smashed such stigmas.  

The founder of a ministry, a therapist,  agreed to a meeting to discuss if  I could play a role in his work.  Immediately he asked about my diagnosis and before I could tell what marketable skills I offer, His facial expressions and body language moved from potential employer to fixer.  I knew I was wasting my time. It was condescending under the circumstances.

Would I go back and keep my mental health history a secret? My story came out  in 2013. Some people treat me differently. It’s been tough finding work.  If you Google me you get mental health issues and my story.  There’s no hiding now. 

Good has come of it too! How could I weigh personal losses against the value of a life? Some faces are unforgettable, like the ones who tell me I’ve given them hope.  In my best estimation (because who can really know) I think at least one person is alive because of my openness. I’ve seen family members improve in their support of struggling loved ones. So many have read my blog and heard my radio interviews, there is simply no way of knowing the result. 

If you have or plan to go public with your mental illness,  good for you! We need more voices. However, think carefully before you do. Due to a few generously honest celebrities,  the national conversation has begun.

Be wise.

 **********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, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Hope and help are yours.

 

 

Anxiety, Take a Hike! I’m Breaking Out of My House

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

I am finally going to venture out of my home and attend church today. Following surgery to remove cancer two and a half weeks ago,  it is a welcome relief to think about being with people again, and breaking the doctor-ordered homebound status which has begun messing with my head.

Within a few days of receiving the cancer diagnosis in February, three other events threatened to throw circumstances out of control. I kept much of this to myself.

Is it any wonder then that I ended up in the ER due to anxiety? It is frustrating that happened. Anti-anxiety strategies are my protection. However, the number one sure-fire way for GAD (Generalized anxiety Disorder) or PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) to win the day is to take on life’s struggles alone.

Having learned this lesson again (one can only hope ), anxiety lessened immediately once I began to tell friends what was going on. 

Then my cousin’s daughter went missing. For days, it was impossible for me to even think about her without becoming physically ill.  She has since been found safe. Yet anxiety,  circling overhead, seems to have found a landing. 

It’s not every hour. You who have GAD, PTSD, or any other struggle with anxiety probably understand. When least expected, and when you feel as if you are handling everything well, it takes over and knocks you temporarily out of the game.    

Feeling discouraged, four days ago an encouraging email arrived. It was kind, and immediately my energy and mood rose. When God said it was not good for Adam to be alone, he meant me too. I need people, regular interactions, and human presence, especially when times are tough. That’s probably true for most of us. 

Already I know today will be better. I look forward to getting out of my head, to teaching and joining my friends in worship. Breaking out of my house, I cannot wait for anxiety to take a rest and to experience freedom. 

Anxiety weighs down the heart, but a kind word cheers it up.

 

 **********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, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Hope and help are yours.

Have You Counted Your Friends Lately?

Compassionate Love Blog: Displaying compassion for those who struggle with mental illness   (c)2016  Nancy Virden, Always the Fight Ministry

cropped-photo-24765818-man-with-their-arms-putting-on-the-shoulder-of-one-another.jpg

Have you counted your friends lately? I don’t mean the crowd on your Facebook friends list. It’s not the acquaintances you see at church every Sunday, or coworkers with whom you share gripes about the boss who will be there for you at your loneliest hour. Peripheral friends – those fun and wonderful people in your social circle – no, I’m not talking about them, either.

Have you counted your friends lately?

Those who through time, effort, struggle, joy, and shared experiences have bonded so close to your own soul that you know peace when you are with them, are the friends to count. In these hard-earned friendships there is no fear, and trust is not an issue for even the most jaded heart.

Confidence has been earned by saving each other’s lives repeatedly.

Don’t tell my mom!  Keep this between us, ok?  Can you pick me up (in the middle of the night)? I’m crying so hard I can’t see. Thanks for not leaving me when I was at my worst. Yes, I’ll drop everything, where do you need me?

Have you counted your friends lately?

These are the ones you think to contact when there is good news, a funny joke, or a spurt of energy. They are few in number – maybe 2 or 3 at the most. They have your back. They will be there at the funerals and in the hospital, at the bedside, and on the phone. They reach out to you when you are hiding from the world.  You make mistakes and know they laugh with you, never at you. You do the same for them. 

Have you counted your friends lately?

You are blessed if you have them. If not, start by being a friend. Take your time, allow relationship to develop naturally, be trustworthy, and develop your strength of character. 

I’ve counted my friends lately, and I’m grateful. I am blessed indeed.

********

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 is yours.

 

Special Friends Don’t Just Leave You to Die

Compassionate Love Blog: Displaying compassion for those who struggle with mental illness   (c)2015  Nancy Virden, Always the Fight Ministry

photo-24790059-sad-woman-holding-cellphone-with-her-friendA woman grew depressed. She was unhappy because she was being violently abused at home by a husband she had thought was her friend. Over the course of their marriage she had gone from an outgoing and successful businesswoman to a frightened, unemployed, and suicidal victim. One August, she attempted suicide and nearly died.

Upon release from the medical ward, she was transferred to a nearby mental health clinic. Her spirit was crushed. She felt lonely and hopeless. Still, she longed for a visitor or two.

None came. Much later, she found out her husband had told people not to go to her, claiming she needed solitude. Truth is, he was afraid she would tell on him.

Late in her stay, one visitor her husband had failed to reach showed up to check on her. The depressed woman heard how much she is valued and loved, and her friend asked her to stay alive. She was soon discharged, armed with connections and support. Eventually, with the help of these friends, she was able to escape her terrible marriage.

Eight months later…

Another woman grew depressed. Her complicated circumstances had become overwhelming. For several months she had maintained a false sense of control over her emotions. She became increasingly quiet, withdrawn, and disinterested in work or socializing. In her mind, suicidal thoughts were starting to make sense, and she began behaving recklessly.

Having been through this before, she recognized the signs of a severe major depression relapse. Yet in her increasingly disturbed rationale, she believed she had only to hold out a little longer and everything would be alright. Or, she reasoned, death would be acceptable too.

One evening, two friends talked with her about these changes in her mood. They found her answers unsatisfactory, and proceeded to make their intentions clear. If she did not increase her level of mental health care, they would call 9.1.1 and have her hospitalized.

She heard how much others value and love her, and understood her friends were asking her to stay alive. The next day she made arrangements to begin intensive outpatient treatment.

The friend who visited at the clinic is the one who later needed help. The depressed woman in the first story is one of the friends in the second. Acceptance of each other despite great pain is an example of support that does not walk away during emotional struggles.

Because special friends don’t just leave you to die.

___________________

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.

-pictures from qualitystockphotos.com

 

 

 

Sometimes God Gives Us More Than We Can Handle

Compassionate Love: Displaying compassion for those who struggle with mental illness (c)2015  Nancy Virden

100_2376February 21 was a messy, slippery, gray day here in southeastern PA. Safety warnings on television, radio, the internet, and even a phone call from the township told residents to stay home. But I am from Cleveland, why concern myself with a little snow?

One half hour from my warm apartment, I passed spun-out vehicles, and worked to avoid a car weaving across the lane on a hill covered in ice. The took two hours.

I’ve been able to tell only 3 people the cause of some of that delay, a car accident I drove up on soon after it happened. Due to more urgent upheaval, my emotions have not caught up to the month gone by. I don’t know how to speak of or process having watched a family burn alive.

Yesterday though, I purposely drove twice past the scene. There are no flowers by the side of the road, no evidence of a car fire or accident. People continue to zoom by ignoring ominous street signs cautioning us to watch for aggressive drivers.

I wonder how the emergency crew feels who was forced to stand by helplessly near the roaring flames. From about 6 cars away I had a close-up of the double line they formed to privately remove bodies. One little bundle taken to the ambulance looked perhaps to be a baby. The ambulance did not leave; no one could have survived.

I guess now I am talking about it although silently to the public. Maybe you are wondering the point of this story? There isn’t one except sometimes we have to find space in the middle of life’s chaos to allow our emotions to vent a little.

Also in the past month I found out I’m getting divorced, finished and started two big work projects, comforted two suicidal friends, and continued to watch my dad’s dementia steal his brain. Add the strain of other decisions and challenges, and yes, sometimes it is too much.

There is no truth to the statement that God will not give us more than we can handle.

What is absolutely foundational to maneuvering all this is the fact I am not alone. Beyond what caring people and calmer circumstances can provide is the promise of walking with my Savior now, in reality, despite being unable to articulate aloud what is on my heart. He hears the unspoken words, and comforts, teaches, leads, and loves.

Real truth is found in Saint Paul’s words, “I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation… I can do everything through him who gives me strength.” *

******

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.

*pictures from qualitystockphotos.com

*(Philippians 4:12-13 NIV)

Please Care: Joshua’s story

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

images (18)They scattered. Like leaves in an autumn wind, like thieves at the sound of footsteps, like dreams as one awakes, they dispersed quickly and inaudibly.

One would think they had sensed a threat; maybe they heard a warning bell or saw a flashing electronic “danger” light in the sky. For whatever reason they left the scene, what mattered was that the one from whom they ran became isolated, felt rejected, and certain of betrayal.

His name was Joshua. With plenty of friends who viewed him as a fun guy, it was routine for him to suggest a movie or concert only to be overridden by the vote of the majority. Very few of his friends, even the closest ones, showed interest in discussing much beyond work, family, and the latest pastime.  Joshua was beginning to wonder if he even had real friends; did any one of them actually care about him?

His mood was sinking. His thoughts were negative.  I hate my job.  No one likes me for who I am. There is no romance on the horizon. If life has no purpose… why live? 

He decided to reach out to his friends and spill these thoughts. The immediate response from most of them was “I understand, I was depressed once.” When he didn’t shake it off and return to being the fun guy quickly, that is when they scattered out of sight.

One friend refused to ride with him in the car, another told him to snap out of it. Invites slowed down, and even his church called on him less often for service opportunities. After a few months, Joshua tried one last time to get someone to listen. This person called the police, and Joshua was prevented from completing suicide.

His is a common experience among those who have the disease of Major Depression.

Most people will never face anything more than the blues or sadness that is relieved within a few days. Even grief does not shut down one’s ability to function for long. Potential supports who have never experienced major depression are not generally knowledgable about its severity.

Knowledge and insight are necessary if we want to effectively help someone who is depressed. Learning what to expect from the disease will increase our ability to deal with it. 

Insight looks deeper into a specific individual’s heart. Asking good questions (not interrogating) and listening without judgment are foundational to compassionate love. 

**********

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.