Tag Archives: isolation

It is Perpetually Paramount that this Pundit Practices Pointers She Presents to the Public. (Say that 10 times fast!)

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

25996069 Big generation family at home doing various activitiesDid you successfully say the title of this post ten times fast? As with an increasingly  speedy telling of the adventures of Mr. Piper and his spicy vegetables, rote repetition eventually turns into habits of sound.

Test this theory by asking if you know the depth of this title without pausing to consider. Can you informatively discuss Peter Piper’s situation? A message may be lost on the one who is used to hearing herself say it.

This week, it was my privilege to be a guest on WYCB 1340 AM’s  show, The Senior Zone, live for a Washington DC audience. I was asked by host Shawn Perry what it is seniors can do to prevent isolation.

Sure enough, my reply was quick and easy because I’ve said it all before.  While familiar words hopefully helped listeners, my mind was not applying them personally.

The perspective I shared with The Senior Zone

Quite simply, we are responsible for avoiding isolation. As long as we are able to interact, we must proactively look for ways to do it.

Perhaps stepping out the door and saying hello to the neighbor is all you can muster to start. Great! Try that! Then again and again until it is easier. Do something nice for them, and others in your neighborhood. If you raise herbs in your kitchen, share the harvest. Offer your green thumb to help the single mother down the street.

Local organizations offer activities for seniors and younger adults too. Many will pick you up. Go to church if they have a bus, or ask for a ride. Visit your 24-hour store at night and begin a conversation with a clerk. Chances are good they will welcome the company.

If you cannot leave home easily, invite people in. What do you know? Teach sewing,  wood carving, or start a book club or Bible study. Host regular movie nights or Sunday afternoon football. Whatever you can imagine is possible within the scope of your abilities.

Write letters. Send them to anyone you know who needs encouragement. Call other seniors who may be isolated. You are not alone in your struggle against loneliness.

Life is difficult at times, and isolation only magnifies pain. Take hold of your future by entering the world of people.

The pointers are for me

Uggh! How many times will I “learn” this lesson? The advice is for me too. After months of limited interactions due to health issues, my connections at the church I’ve attended for a year are still formative. It feels intimidating to reach out to those who I do not know that well. Yet yesterday I invited some women over for spiritual fellowship.  I am responsible for getting my needs met, as are we all.

Say “I do not have to be alone” ten times fast. Let it sink in until the day you can honestly forget it because you are alone no more. I will too.

Looking AheadToday’s Helpful Word

Isaiah 61  (Isaiah is speaking for Jesus in this prophecy)

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion— to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of  righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor.

***** 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.

 

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.

The Straw that Broke the Camel’s Back: Until We’re Tested, We All Seem Strong

Compassionate Love: Displaying compassion for those who struggle with mental illness   (c) 2012 Nancy Virden, Always The Fight Ministries  

oqpcf3sTwo camels, Tom and Bill, walked side by side heading for what they assumed would be a feast. Their masters were always partying. A wedding here, a funeral there, it didn’t matter to these beasts of burden. They always had to carry whatever was needed, and at the end of the trip they too feasted – on straw.

Their backs, already laden with heavy gifts and wine, had to bear food as well. Huge sacks dangled on each side, flung between their double-humps and joined by a tie.  Straw lay in the bottoms to protect clay jugs and hold them upright. It encircled the cargo, stuffed into crevices, and bulged the sacks at odd angles.

“Hey,” Tom said to Bill as they lumbered along. “You know ‘ol Henry?”

“Sure. I know him. Shame what happened.”

“I blame his parents. They didn’t raise him right.”

Bill shook his head. “Nah, he hasn’t been coming to church. I mean, when he showed up  I could always tell there was something wrong with him.”

It was quiet for a few more minutes. Each tried to solve the puzzle of why ‘ol Henry had a broken back.

“Ok, I get it. Clearly his wife is difficult. You never know what goes on behind closed doors!”

“Regardless, he isn’t who we thought!”

The ignorant gossips, neither of which had asked ‘ol Henry why his back broke, slowly maneuvered their way through the crowd. One party-goer, no one knows who, decided he didn’t want to carry his gift any farther. Seeing an opportunity in the passing camels, he topped one bag with a teetering clay pot.

“Sheeez!” Tom complained as his back bowed. “I can only carry so much!”

“Quit your griping, it’s not that hard!” his insensitive companion bellowed. “Breathe easier. You should exercise more.”

Groaning, Tom wobbled a little. “Hey, will you let me lean on you the rest of the way?” He looked to Bill, pleading.

“You’re a pansy. Just repeat, ‘I’m a good camel.’ If you believe in yourself, you can do anything! Now c’mon. You’re slowing us down.”

As Bill was chiding, he kept his distance from Tom. The party-goer stacked straw around the clay treasure he’d added to Tom’s bag. Tom began to lose his footing. One straw fell out of the man’s hand and he leaned down to pick it up. Laughing and joking with surrounding merry-makers, he tossed the lone straw onto Tom’s sack.

There was a popping sound, then a loud crack as if a large tree branch was torn from its trunk. Sudden cries of anguish and fear faded into a low moan as Tom lay crumpled on the ground.

“I guess he was weak,” someone muttered.

No one considered the weight of Tom’s burden. 

“Yeah, you never know what you’re really getting into with these camels. Until they’re tested, they all seem strong.”

Today’s Helpful Word

Romans 12:16

“Live in harmony with each other. Don’t be too proud to enjoy the company of ordinary people. And don’t think you know it 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. 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.

*pics from Kozzi.com 

Social Interaction: The Sandpaper That May Save Your Mental Health

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

Sandpaper. That is what my mother called it when two people grow in maturity because of their interpersonal conflict.  “It’s like sandpaper,” she said. “People sand down each other’s rough edges.”

That does not sound pleasant. Conflict is no fun, and neither is swallowing one’s pride and learning to change. Bumping up against a differing point of view is not always awful though. Some lessons come gently, and like patting a wound with a cotton ball, we immediately appreciate the sensation. 

Take what I learn from my friend Emily.*  Somehow she manages to patiently ride out my storms without judgement or running away. She is honest and will tell me if what I am saying or doing is challenging her peace of mind. Although we have known each other for three decades, it was twelve years ago she came to visit me during my first psychiatric hospital stay and never left. 

My appreciation for Emily is profound. Better yet, she influences how I want to be. Her example is worth following. Lessons from Emily are not painful, yet without her my character would suffer a deficiency.     

My mother lived alone after my father left her for another woman after 24 years of marriage. Constant and horrible conflict between my parents never made anyone grow in maturity. They brought the worst out in each other. My mother never wanted to remarry because of her religious beliefs and the pain of her first try. 

It is interesting then that she promoted sandpapering. Her thoughtful reasoning came of loneliness. “As we get older, if we are alone we get weird. I don’t have anyone to give me a differing point of view.  Whatever is in my head seems true.”

Loneliness is its own head game. Acute and chronic loneliness does change a person in deep ways. Psychologist John Cacioppo* is an expert in the study of loneliness.  A series of his studies prove quite simply that not having  healthy social interaction makes us sick. Psychology Today* reports:

  • Perhaps most astonishing, in a survey he conducted, doctors  confided that they provide better or more complete medical care to patients who have supportive families and are not socially isolated.
  • Living alone increases the risk of suicide for young and old alike.
  • Lonely individuals report higher levels of perceived stress even when exposed to the same stressors as non-lonely people, and even when they are relaxing.
  • The social interaction lonely people do have are not as positive as those of other people, hence the relationships they have do not buffer them from stress as relationships normally do.
  • Loneliness raises levels of circulating stress hormones and levels of blood pressure. It undermines regulation of the circulatory system so that the heart muscle works harder and the blood vessels are subject to damage by blood flow turbulence.
  • Loneliness destroys the quality and efficiency of sleep, so that it is less restorative, both physically and psychologically. They wake up more at night and spend less time in bed actually sleeping than do the non-lonely.

Dr. Kimberly Dennis, Medical Director and CEO of Timberline Knolls Residential Treatment Center,  teaches that one of the most common predictors of or risk factors for relapse in eating disorder recovery is isolation. This is true of recovery after surgery, after a death, depression, and financial loss.  Any stressor is tougher to overcome when loneliness is a factor.  

This is one of many reasons it is unfair to accuse someone who struggles emotionally  with ‘playing the victim’ or character defect. We would do better to invite that person over, take them out, and show them they matter.

We all experience some loneliness from time to time. To the chronically lonely and isolated, I suggest nothing is worse than nothing. Let’s do something! Go out, call, email, text, talk to people at the store, attend church, take some classes, or join an area club.  Invite others to your home, teach a skill, lead a study on any topic, or have a potluck with neighbors.  If you need something, ask. Ask for transport, visits, or volunteers. Want to barter? Do it.  Call support centers. Do not wait for rescue – tell people precisely what you need. 

To the non-lonely, may I urge you to look beyond the norm. What is it you can do to reach out to a lonely person? It is good medicine for both of you.

The Psychology Today article ends with this sobering thought. “…we are built for social contact. There are serious—life-threatening—consequences when we don’t get enough. We can’t stay on track mentally. And we are compromised physically. Social skills are crucial for your health.”

Today’s Helpful Word

Proverbs 27:17 

“As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.”

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.

*not her real name

*John T. Cacioppo, Ph.D, is the Tiffany and Margaret Blake Distinguished Service Professor and Director of the Center for Cognitive and Social Neuroscience at the University of Chicago

* Hara Estroff Marano. The Dangers of Loneliness. July 1, 2003 – last reviewed on June 9, 2016. Retrieved on May 20, 2017 from  https://www.psychologytoday.com/articles/200307/the-dangers-loneliness

sandpaper picture by MIMWICKETT on rgbstock.com

men picture from kozzi.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

Ring Around the Rosies, Pockets Full of …Prayer?

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

photo-24784637-praying-businessmanMy four year-old son Jonathan (Jon), was excited when he was asked to say grace just before dinner. We were at a restaurant with extended family members and Jon was beaming, thinking himself one of the grownups. Surprisingly, he asked everyone to hold hands and bow their heads so he could say grace.

“Ring around the rosie, pocket full of posies .” Explosions of laughter circled the table. Jon was congratulated for his prank.

I was asked to say grace in public once. My sense of humor proves Jon and I are related. With everyone’s heads bowed, I reinterpreted an old poem. “God, please bless these vittles. May they add to your glory and not to our middles!” That was a hit. Then we prayed for real.

Prayer is just talking to God and listening for his wisdom. Why not tell him everything? (He knows it already anyway.) Spiritual and mental health depend in part on having someone to talk to.

Since my job is at home, and my sons have lives 8 hours away, isolation is a common reality for me. However, I can reach out and engage with friends, people at the store, the waiter where I stop for a bite to eat, the man who fills my car with gasoline, and anyone who crosses my path.  

More significant is the privilege of an audience with the Almighty God. 

No matter how our major depression, bipolar disorder, or any other mental illness is manifesting, we can talk to God. Sometimes finding the words for prayer is deeply challenging. This is when all I can muster is, “help me.”

And that has always been enough. God meets with me and inspires hope. 

________________

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