Tag Archives: hopelessness

Your Value and Hope are Not Decided By Holiday Circumstances

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

ngaw2pGCircumstances cannot choose for us how we think about ourselves. What I mean is, whatever is going on in life is not powerful enough to decide for us how to interpret our value or hope. 

That is because we are complex beings maneuvering through complicated lives. There is no all-this or all-that perception of the world that actually works. 

Wouldn’t it be easy if it did? Imagine if everything was categorized into right/wrong, healthy/unhealthy, and wise/foolish. What if all decisions were a simple matter of looking in a textbook? 

I don’t know. Sounds boring. It certainly takes the joy of freedom of thought out of the equation. One such freedom is the ability to choose how to perceive our value and hope and the value and hope of others. 

In answering a podcast host’s question today, I mentioned that the measure of our value and hope never changes. God’s love is constant, and his eternal promise is for all who believe on his Son Jesus. What flexes is our beliefs about ourselves, God, and the world around us.

Three questions

Here’s a challenge I try to do and invite you to join me.  When confronted with a sense of failure or lesser worth, or when hope begins to fades from view,  ask 3 questions:

Who is speaking this message to my brain? If it is a person, seriously, what is their problem? They are wrong. If the culprit is negative self-talk,  challenge the message. 

What is the meat of the message?  Is the worthless feeling coming from loss? Is the lack of hope coming from fear?  Knowing and focusing on the root issue helps us find ways of dealing with it. 

Is this who I want to be?  I was asked once if I wanted to be valued for being depressed or for finding something worthwhile to offer the world. Awareness of the choices we have – how to see ourselves, others, and God; who we want to be, and what steps we will take toward becoming that person – gives us power. Change is a possibility. Will we go for it? 

What is happening to us or around us cannot determine our value or hope. Value is inherent. Hope is always present.  Believe it. 

p3sR2m0Today’s Helpful Word

Lamentations 3:21-23

“But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”


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.


*forest path pic by MIMICA; autumn sky by TACLUDA: both  on rgbstock.com

For more on today’s topic, see  How to Gain and Maintain a Mindset of Hope 

Bourdain, Spade, and a soaring suicide rate: We are patching a massive rip with fraying string

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

Anthony Bourdain, Kate Spade, and a soaring suicide rate. We are patching a massive rip with fraying string.


We have observed the increase in public discussion about suicide over the last five years. There is minimal, yet growing understanding and acceptance of depression and anxiety as deserving of treatment and not ridicule. The conversation has begun, and that in itself is good.

CNN today suggested medications and therapy as routes to self-protection from suicidal thoughts. This too is helpful because professional treatment saves lives and helps to improve old thought patterns.

Still, there is something missing, isn’t there? What about that fraying string? Depression recurs and now what? The standard answer is to change meds and increase therapy. This is great when the person in pain is able to try. And THAT is the question.

External aids do not bring about the permanent hope we need to try and try again. The greatest indicator of potential death by suicide is a previous suicide attempt. Why? We start losing the fight, that’s why. Patches help but do not provide the soul-deep sense of peace we need.


Faith is demeaned by loud voices, yet they have no answer to despair other than “perk up and hold on!” Where is one supposed to find purpose in holding on when every part of his or her being is aching to die? When depression has boggled the mind for the second or tenth time, and hope is ripped from its bearings, what promise exists in “try, try again’?

Faith that God is in charge and decides matters of life and death, faith that he knows what is best, faith that he is good and his love never fails despite the harshest emotional exhaustion – this is the thread that mends, not patches, horrific wounds.

In reality, I would not be here without faith in the above. Despite weighty darkness that can overtake my thoughts, there is always the light of hope found in surrender to God’s plan. Quite simply, I know it is not up to me to choose. God has me breathing. God is good. My hope lies there.

For all the Anthony Bourdains, Kate Spades, and businessmen and women, teenagers, moms and dad, and everyone else whose fight is too long and weary, think on this testimony found in the Bible. It is my story as well, and can be yours:

“Unless the Lord had given me help, I would soon have dwelt in the silence of death. When I said, ‘My foot is slipping,’ your unfailing love, Lord, supported me. When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy.” (Psalm 94:17-19) .

Please stay alive.

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.


To Anyone Who Thinks About Suicide

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

Your feelings are real and deserve to be accepted as such. Your experience with despair is yours and not anyone else’s. You have the right to feel great pain without a bunch of people telling you your emotions are wrong.

Yes, your thoughts and feelings are actually happening. Let’s use caution, though. Not everything we feel so intensely makes all of our thoughts rational or true.  For example, you may actually be lonely. It may be difficult to find someone to care. Your thought that this situation can never change is not based in truth.

Support does not always come from where we wish it would. Significant people such as family and friends can often manage to make us feel worse even while they try to fix us or our pain. This is sad and frustrating, however the thought that we can never find the love and acceptance we need is not based in truth.

Loss hurts. Loss hurts so very much! We lose family through abandonment, divorce, rejection, and death.  Abuse and other traumas change our brain and we struggle to have a “normal” feeling or thought. Addiction chains us to guilt and self-loathing.  Although we move forward it does not seem fast or good enough.  Listen to me anyway!

Your life is not over even though your mind and heart are telling you it is. That worthlessness you feel is temporary. Hopelessness is a lie. Yes, some situations are not meant to continue and changes are necessary. Nonetheless, it is not your entire existence that must be wiped away.

At one point I felt strongly I was supposed to die. Since it did not happen, God had time to slowly teach me that it was actually my old and unhealthy ways of perceiving the world that needed to be put to death. That path out of darkness was the most profound challenge of my life, yet it was doable despite how I felt.

When Jesus died at his crucifixion and then came back to life to live in heaven with God, he made a permanent way for us to know Light and to not live in darkness anymore. Yes, we will suffer loss, depression, anger, loneliness, and fear. People will not always understand and may expect us to stop hurting. Yet once we have yielded to Jesus as our Savior from sin and eternal condemnation, we always have him to turn to with our doubts and strong emotions.

Perhaps the bravest thing you will ever do is stay alive when everything within you is pointing to suicide. You can be that brave, though. Find people who get it. We are out here, listening, and glad to help see you through. We are in hospitals, intensive outpatient programs, and support groups. We are on the internet, and sitting next to you at work. You will find us, we are here.

If you haven’t already, ask Jesus to forgive your sins, whatever they may be. Then stay tuned to this website, find professional help, and wait for what you think is impossible but is not – a more satisfying, purpose-filled life.

Today’s Helpful Word

Psalm 33: 20 – 22 

“We put our hope in the LORD . He is our help and our shield.  In him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in his holy name.  Let your unfailing love surround us, LORD, for our hope is in you alone.”

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.



Gain a Mindset of Hope

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

We Can Develop a Mindset of Hope While It Seems There is None

100_2388I have felt so hopeless I tried to die. No one could have convinced me that life was worth carrying on, although several tried. Was hope there anyway?

When was the last time you heard someone say, “Happiness is the most important thing in life”?  A business man who has devoted his career to helping others find happiness, recently said that to me. If we look at happiness as a temporal feeling that can be switched off in an instant by circumstances, it seems rather unimpressive as a goal.

I propose that hope is an important foundation in life because its existence allows for love, faith, and strength during unavoidable suffering.  

Hopelessness (I am referring to no hope at all) cannot produce love because it is too self-absorbed. Hopelessness negates the power of faith because it believes only what it sees in the moment. Hopelessness cannot produce strength when life gets hard, for there is no understanding of purpose.

When any of us struggles with major depression, we need hope for life, for feeling better, and for change to come from the inside-out.

One of the goals we hear about often these days is that of sustainability. Using renewable energy sources, training families and even nations how to be self-sufficient – it makes sense. Sustainability of hope is also important. Hope can seem as if it is just there, available, and at other times we have to reach for it. It is in those situations in which hope seems elusive that we need to know how to find it, gain it back, and hang onto it.

What is hope?

Which of the following are statements of hope?

*I cannot get back on that old spiral. I can’t go around again.

*My life could produce good,  I’m just not sure it’s worth all the pain

*People care about me, they are just focused on their own issues.

*Nothing will ever stop hurting.

*I know I have some control over how I feel

Hope tends to sound more powerful; the person with hope speaks less like a victim. With hope we know we have choices and some options concerning how much we suffer. Hope and a sense of self-worth work together. If our belief is that we are valuable, then the idea of life having meaning is more likely to be part of our thinking, yes?

Hope turns our desire for freedom from pain into teachability and positive action. Hope provides some energy to help face the next moment, hour, and day when it is tough to care. Hope allows change to come one step at a time. Hope waits for the process to work, for the miracle to arrive.

Hope feels better! Hope in its fullness allows us to smile sincerely, to love without an agenda; it is the bottom line for gratitude and happiness. A mindset of hope protects us from being swallowed up in overwhelming discouragement.100_3812

How can we achieve and sustain a mindset of hope?

Hope begins to appear when we decide to believe for it. Hope can be deferred or chosen. We can delay it because we fear that by allowing hope we will be disappointed later on.

For instance, after applying for a job, I waited to hear back.  I went through a typical process of anyone in this situation, with worry, anxiety, trying not to think about it, and trying not to raise my expectations. It was unsettling, and hurt. Nothing else took precedent over my mind while I waited. Will they call? Will there be a contract? Maybe there’s a chance they will say yes? Oh I’d better not think that, I’ll experience a greater disappointment if I allow that thought. So I put hope off – or tried to.

Does that ever actually work? The effort it takes to squelch hope will usually require far more energy and take more enjoyment out of each day than the final disappointment if it even comes to that. Our reasoning can be, if I don’t hope anymore I won’t hurt. However, pushing down hope or not getting our hopes up – that’s painful.

A few weeks later, the phone rang. The job was mine.  What a difference hope would have made those weeks. There is peace, calm, and rest in hope. What if I’d been turned down? It would have been hard. Disappointment is not worse or better because of what we do with hope. The loss is the loss, it will hurt anyway. By hoping, we have shortened the hours, days, months, and years of the pain that deferring it causes.

Most of us have lived long enough to know we do not know much. I sure have. There came a time when hope for hope was all I had, and that only periodically. Hope for hope came with an attitude of teachability. In front of me were highly trained professionals, who maybe, just maybe, knew things I did not know. They had been around this particular block many times with numbers of patients, perhaps they could see ahead where I could not. Oh, trust me, depression told me they were wrong in my case! However, teachability kicked in despite this false belief. Hope for hope whispered, I can learn from these people.

Here are some strategies taught to me that effectively grow my hope when practiced.  These have been life-saving for many people.

1. Motivating Values. When I was 26, I thought I wanted to go back to school and finish my degree. I said to a man in his forties who had just completed his doctorate, “I don’t know if I want to go back to school. By the time I graduate, I’ll be thirty!”  He said, “You’ll be thirty anyway. Do you want to be thirty with a degree or without one?”

Thinking about our values, who we want to be, is a guide for our choices. Writing down what is important to us and keeping this list available where it can be seen forces us to make one decision each day- to stick to the status quo or read the list. If we are depressed, do we want to be hopeful or would we rather stay depressed? Do we want to enjoy life, or maybe spend it hiding? Maybe we are feeling other emotions we do not like, or are behaving in a manner we do not prefer. What would motivate us to change? Do we want change?

When I see depression symptoms activating, I know it is time to challenge negative thinking and beliefs. This proactivity may not be immediate, and I may struggle to care. However, I can start turning my focus by asking, What kind of person do I want to be? What step can I take today toward becoming that person?

2. Acting Something old something newOpposite.  I felt insulted when I was told I live according to my emotions. That doesn’t happen to be true all the time, nonetheless it has been more often than I like. Hope can grow in strength as we practice acting opposite of how negative emotions are suggesting we act. Here are some ideas, most of which I have tried and found to be helpful.

Act opposite by reaching out:  Isolation is one of the first choices a depressed person will make. Ignoring emails, texts, or calls, skipping work and staying in the house, shutting the bedroom door and sleeping, cancelling plans with friends, avoiding regular social activities – all very common among those of us with depressive mood disorders. Here are some healthy opposites.

*Call 1-800 273-TALK, the national suicide hotline.

*Go to the store and say hello to people you pass.

*Say yes to social invitations and keep your word.

*Volunteer to do a job that will require regular interaction with people.

*Sit in the Living Room with the rest of the family. Just be there.

*Attend a support group.

*Make one phone call that is not a conversation about depression.

*Send an email to someone you are fairly certain will answer. Ask them to answer.

*Use phrases like, “I need from you” or “please help me with.” Talk about how you feel with a willing listener.

Act opposite by allowing support:  Decades of “Smile, you’re on ‘Make an Impression’,”  has made changing that practice a daily challenge. Problem is, that old game has no winners, and there are no rewards. Answering, “fine” when sincere friends ask how I am doing, making sure to change the subject or to ignore those who inquire, and not allowing anyone to be aware of my specific needs always leads to loneliness and reinforcement of negative beliefs about myself and the world. This common,self-defeating cycle can be bested for any of us when we bravely accept support, even just a tiny bit. Today, tomorrow, or next week, we can try again.

Talk therapy is a safer means of opening up to feelings and discovering balance. Psychotropic medications such as antidepressants  are also therapy. No, they are not happy pills and cannot produce hope. However, they make it possible for an irrational and ill mind to reason again. Then we are capable of choosing to make wise decisions, and working with a therapist can move us forward.

Act opposite by facing emotions: What do food, alcohol, drugs, sex, porn, gambling, smoking, shopping, hoarding, television, video games, and the internet have in common? Compulsions teach us that any and all addictions have similar brain reactions. What else they have in common is denial and avoidance of real issues and feelings.  I’ve observed that for these reasons, overcoming addiction is usually best done with professional and organized support.

There is an emptiness and numbness that often accompanies depression. A struggling person may feel emotionally or spiritually dead.  Then there are those who have made it a lifelong effort to not feel anything, while some have learned to turn emotions on and off.  In developing the mindset of hope, taking the time to find out what it is we are working so hard not to feel can lead to uncomfortable challenges before we become healthier. This process has played out best for me in the context of available support.

Act opposite by accepting a different perspective:  When I was raising toddlers, one Christmastime a  grandfather and grandmother were in a toy aisle with me. I heard him say as he pushed all the buttons, “This firetruck is great! Look, it lights up and listen to this!”

“Uh hmm” said his wife.

He picked up another potential gift for a lucky grandchild and said “This is huge, wow, see what it can do?” He was obviously enthusiastic, but it went beyond making a child happy as he played with toy after toy.

I turned to him and said with a grin, ”You know the toys are for the children.”

He and his wife laughed hard. He’d been caught! It’s true, is it not? We share childhood with our kids, and we see it again through their eyes. Our playfulness may light up!

A different perspective on why life has hope may chase a shadow or two out of our negative thinking.  Asking a trusted friend what they see in us that is worthy, or running our fears passed an understanding soul and listening to their response can lead to a renewing vibrancy of hope. We can decide to accept and take in their positive feedback.

Whenever my mind screams, They don’t care!! and My life doesn’t matter!, there is a quieter, barely distinguishable voice advocating for me to stay alive and rediscover hope. That is God. Accepting God’s perspective brings hope for the best life, the one we all dream about where we are loved unconditionally.

3. Change words.  Our own statements can be defeating. They can keep us stuck.  When I was sixteen, I traveled to Europe with a choir representing Ohio. Most of the trip was lovely; we stayed in local homes and sang in some of the most beautiful cathedrals in the world. Language was a bit of an issue. My friend Rhonda and I were running around the Rykes Museum in Amsterdam when we saw a sign with foreign words and an arrow pointing down a long empty hallway. We followed it expecting something grand at the end, only to wind up in the middle of the men’s room. A red-faced gentleman started shouting at us, but in that context any language barrier was overcome and we hightailed it out of there!

Silly of an analogy as this may be, it applies to hope because when we are at a loss to understand the power words have, they can lead us to emotions and experiences we do not want. Using healthier terms aids in our quest for hope simply by allowing it to be an option. By replacing black and white language we gain some possibilities. Helpful exchanges include:

  • should to could
  • can’t to it will be difficult 
  • never to unlikely
  • must to have an option 
  • always to often or sometimes
  • I’m useless to I’m fragile right now
  • Taking giant leaps like hopeless to hopeful may not always reflect the truth. Instead, changing hopeless to challenged may be more realistic.

Using “Yes, and” statements validates us and allows for hope as supposed to  “Yes, but” statements which negate any good. For example, “Did you get your work done?”  “Yes, and tomorrow morning I will present my proposal to the board,”  versus, “Did you get your work done?”  “Yes, but tomorrow I have to present the proposal.”

All of these strategies: knowing our values; acting opposite; reaching out; allowing support; facing our feelings; gaining a fresh perspective; changing our words; and more, are never easy while in the midst of hopelessness and despair. They are doable. From the bottom of the pit all look doubtful at best. They are possible.breaking through

Buying into hope

I was asked, “How did you get there? How did you get to the point you could know who you are?” Anyone who reads my first book will see that as I wrote it I was in the process of discovering hope. The biggest leap was when I made a deliberate decision to not assume death to be the answer anymore and to search for life – to not glance back at suicide longing for escape but to discover what enjoying being alive means. The first step of any change is to let go.

Consider a man who is working in someone else’s field. He discovers a pearl of great price. Will he not go sell everything he owns and buy that field?  Let’s put this old story into a modern context.  A man has worked hard at triumphing over his emotional pain. He has done what he knows to do, maybe those efforts were positive, maybe they were unhealthy. Either way, hope is slipping away fast these days, and he questions why he should keep on trying. Change will cost money, time, painful conversations, digging up festering wounds of the heart, vulnerability, and the release of familiar patterns. Will he choose to invest in his mental health?  Or will he continue down the path of despair repeating those efforts that never worked?

I chose to figuratively sell everything I had and buy the field. It was not a quick decision, and to use the analogy a bit more, negotiations took over a year. Hope can be found. In our darkest times, we can choose to hope for hope or refuse it. And then we’re back at the beginning. What kind of person do I want to be? What kind of life do I want to live? How can I start today?

Hope for permanent transformation comes from watching little changes work. One step at a time hope grows as we experience positive reactions to our pain. Recognizing what we do and do not control, we learn to let go, and hang on. It is my desire that those who are struggling will find this website to be a kind of helping hand for pulling just a bit away from hopelessness.

There is a future for each of us, and we make a difference in this world. I am one who was certain those possibilities did not exist or were not worth the pain of loss. Still, holding on however weakly to the hope of other people gave me a more stable under-girding until I found it for myself.

Now I offer my hope as a lifeline to anyone who wants to reach for it.


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.

5 thoughts on “Gain a Mindset of Hope”

(Gain a Mindset of Hope has changed location. These comments were copied from the previous post/page.  You can still comment using the button below!)

Thank you.

Nancy Virden  October 30, 2014 at 10:08 pm 

You are so welcome. I wish you the best.

Ann March 13, 2014 at 9:39 pm 

Nancy, I appreciate you in different ways: Thank you for writing on the topic of HOPE. Thank you for your practical doable challenging strategies and action steps. Thank you for your tranparency on the emotional and spiritual sides of the prism.


Nancy Virden  March 13, 2014 at 10:40 pm

Ann, Thank you, I appreciate you read my article! Nancy


Suicidal Intent is Revealed in Writing (And Not Just In Suicide Notes)

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

Note TakingThe use of linguistics software to predict a writer’s suicidal tendencies is an interesting tool. By analyzing word usage, the software can shed light on patterns and themes, revealing more than the writer may have intended. In fact, this science is already in use with impressive results. However, the system can be beat, and suicidal people can lie.  Computers cannot compensate for sudden and drastic drops in mood, intermittent despair, or impulsivity.

Leakage is what we observe when a person sends warning signals, and “leaks” dark feelings through writing.  The term “Violent Writing”, explains some such themes. Violent Writing is:

“Autobiographical or fictional … writings or other renditions (drawings, doodles, song lyrics, artistic print or paintings, etc.) containing descriptions of physical force or dangerous behavior against oneself or others resulting in physical, mental, or emotional harm, and potentially indicative of violent or aggressive impulses that warrant closer attention by school, legal, or mental health professionals.”*

Unfortunately, outside of a direct threat of suicide, there do not seem to be any keywords that indicate with certainty a suicide attempt is imminent. Here are some themes that call for our attention.

Writing about suicide, justifying suicide, or idealizing suicide victims

Writing about death or dying in a way that suggests preoccupation.

Depressed and suicidal people are more self-focused. Research tells us their writings will likely contain more “I” statements, fewer words about the collective, more words about the author.  1st person.

Direct threats of suicide or negativity and morbid or dark thoughts centered on one’s death or upcoming disappearance.

Conveying goodbye, last wishes, putting affairs in order

  • “You won’t be seeing me around anymore”
  • “If [such-n-such] happens, I’ll kill myself.”
  • “If [such-n-such] doesn’t happen, I’ll kill myself.”
  • “I’m going home.”
  • “Here, take this. I won’t need it anymore.”
  • “If anything happens to me, I know you will be nice to my sister.”

Expressing despair, hopelessness, lack of solution to a problem, wish to escape

  • “I can’t go on”
  • “I wish I was dead”
  • “There’s only one way out”
  • “There’s nothing good in my future.”
  • “I’m tired of living”
  • I want to die to be with [so-n-so]

Expressing regret without hope, ‘my presence is a problem’

  • “I used to be happy. I’ll never be that person again.”
  • “No one will miss me if I am gone.”
  • “I’m just trouble. [People or person] will be better off without me”

Describing revenge or martyrdom (dying for any cause)

  • “They’ll be sorry when I’m gone.”
  • “When I’m gone, she will have to care.”
  • “If I die, mom will believe me and kick him out. Then my sister will be safe.”

It is a myth that if someone talks (writes) about suicide, they will not go through with an attempt. For one thing, maybe a suicidal person is still deciding.  Perhaps he or she is sending a message asking for help.  KidsHealth.org reads, “We need to know what a cry for help sounds like.  Even if it’s a whisper.”



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 Kozzi.com

* From “Creative Crisis.  An English Teacher’s Testimony of the Violent Writing of Youth” as recorded by Lori Brown and Frederick Buskey in the Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy in September 2014