Tag Archives: joy

The Yes or No Exchange: You Have the Power to Plan for Freedom and Joy

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

man standing on street
Photo by bruce mars on Pexels.com

Every YES is a NO.  Every NO is a YES

What? It’s true.

This is not about lying or playing jokes. It is fact that each time you agree to a plan or activity, you are simultaneously choosing not to to do something else. Every yes is a no.

Flip it, and your every no is a yes to an alternative. 

This matters when priorities are lost in the mix.  Under my list of primary yeses, I would include my faith, family, and myself. If that sounds selfish, keep in mind that my faith demands service to others, and doing so is part of my joy and purpose.  It is trickiest when the more intimate parts of my relationship with Jesus  (like prayer) and self-care (like sleep) compete for time due to busyness. 

That is where planning and structure come in.

Establish priorities 

1. What are your current commitmentsthings and people you cannot ignore without disastrous consequences? Be specific.

2. What are your values? What kind of person do you want to be? List by most important.

3. What do you want? Decide what you want in your relationships, and for yourself. Write down what you sincerely hope for generally, long-term, short-term, and in the situation you are in now.

Asking ‘what do I want’  can shed light on why you are in a situation.

If you want someone else to change, this is out of your control. If a person is regularly crossing your boundaries and not changing even when you are communicative about the issue, maybe it’s time to ask, is this the relationship I want?

4. Are your own needs met? Y/N Which ones are not met?

You have legitimate basic needs, too. If they are not met you will grow weak. Think about what you must have to know joy. What do you need to be happy? Where are you on your list of priorities? Are you on your list? Put yourself on your list.

5. Are you engaging specific goals and priorities that support your values?  Which ones?

6.After completing this analysis,  think of all the activities in which you are involved.

List what you believe are your YESes and NOs

In the end, know it is you making your decisions. You are not trapped. You have the power to plan for freedom and joy.

Today’s Helpful Word  

Psalm 32:8-11

The Lord says, “I will guide you along the best pathway for your life.
    I will advise you and watch over you.
Do not be like a senseless horse or mule
    that needs a bit and bridle to keep it under control.”

Many sorrows come to the wicked,
    but unfailing love surrounds those who trust the Lord.
So rejoice in the Lord and be glad, all you who obey him!
    Shout for joy, all you whose hearts are pure!

 

***** 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.

Are You Handling Your Complicated Life, Or is It Handling You?

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

person standing on slope glacier mountain
Photo by Simon Migaj on Pexels.com

Most of us want to be the type of person others can count on. We hope we are a good friend, spouse, parent, and worker.  

Life’s dramas and stressors sometimes overshadow these most important parts of living.  Are you the person you want to be? 

Think about your challenges with life balance, and with making positive and meaningful connections. Then ask if your way is working.  If it is not, perhaps you would like to join me in trying a different way, one proven successful.

How Jesus handled his complicated life

One of the reasons Jesus could serve as he did is because of his boundaries. Jesus loved well and practiced self-care. Unless we embrace his how-to, we cannot expect to experience the effectiveness, freedom, and wisdom he did.

1. He knew his mission; do you know yours?

One morning, while it was still dark, Jesus left where he was staying and went off alone to pray.  Later, several men went to look for him. When they found him, they said, “Everyone is looking for you!”

Jesus said, “Let us go somewhere else—to the nearby villages— so I can preach there also. That is why I have come.” (Paraphrased from Mark 1:35-38)

Notice Jesus did not serve everyone when it would detain him from his priorities. He knew when to say yes or no regardless of pressure from others.

2. His getaways versus your getaways

In the Bible book of Matthew, we read an account of one of Jesus’ very busy days. As it was growing dusk,  he decided to feed the crowd gathered to hear him preach. They had been together for three days and were hungry.

After he miraculously stretched a few fish and loaves of bread into enough meals to satisfy about 8000 people, he dismissed everyone and went up on a mountainside by himself to pray.  It is recorded that shortly before dawn he came back down and joined his disciples. (Paraphrase of Matthew 14: 15 -25 )

Israel, where this took place, generally experiences dusk at 7pm and dawn at 6am. Allowing time for his disciples to pass out the food and to clean-up, it appears Jesus was in prayer for about 8 hours.  This is how he re-energized, by spending time with His Heavenly Father. 

3. Joy was his source of strength.

It was the prophet Nehemiah who encouraged his people to choose joy because it would give them strength to do God’s will. He said, “…the joy of the Lord is your strength.” (Nehemiah 8: 8-10)

Jesus came right out and said, “When you obey my commandments, you remain in my love, just as I obey my Father’s commandments and remain in his love.  I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy.  Yes, your joy will overflow!  This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you.” (John 15:10-12

His joy was complete due to obedience to God his Father, and by giving and receiving love. Is this where you find joy?

4. Jesus’ choices versus your choices

John the Baptist was a great preacher in Jesus’ time. He was a relative of Jesus and a friend.  He was murdered when they both were about 31 years old. When Jesus heard what happened, he withdrew to a private place, no doubt to grieve and pray. 

Crowds followed anyway. When Jesus saw them, he “had compassion on them and healed their sick.” (Paraphrase of Matthew 14:12-14)

Jesus made room for service when it was inconvenient, setting aside his personal grief momentarily.  However, this was not his only response.

5. Jesus held to boundaries. Do you?

Jesus was a celebrity, with clamoring fans from all over his country and beyond. Huge crowds wanted to hear him and have him heal their sick bodies, and ill sons, daughters, friends, servants, and other loved ones.  Some wanted him to raise their dead. 

Look at what Jesus did. He “often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.” (Paraphrase of Luke 5:15-16 Sometimes he simply withdrew from the needs and demands of a hurting world, and made room for self-care.

You can see it is not selfish to balance your life. Not everyone needs you all the time.  It is wise to weigh your priorities and pro-actively seek joy. 

Today’s Helpful Word  

 Amos 4:13
“He who forms the mountains, who creates the wind, and who reveals his thoughts to mankind … the Lord God Almighty is his name.”

 

 

***** 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.

Dear 2018, You Tried to Sting Me Like a Bee, but I’m Still Floating Like Butterfly!

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

woman wearing purple boxing gloves
Photo by Ambar Simpang on Pexels.com

Dear 2018,

You old pest. You waved your gloved fists for 365 days, managing to body punch and intimidate me. I bruised, but you are the one KO’d. This fighter is standing tall and victorious! 

On your first day, joy had me floating like a butterfly.  I admit, your sucker punch of cancer and surgery in the second round was disorienting. You were good at the old one-two. Round five – a thrown back.  Round seven – shingles. Round nine – a triple punch combo.  

Maybe you hoped emotional blows would force me to take a dive. Round two left hook –  betrayal and humiliation. Round three jab – family member missing for two weeks. Round four upper cut – oldest son moved to another part of the state. Round six foul – ex-husband remarried.

Counterpunches of hope, faith, and gratitude weakened you. Despite my almost home-bound existence, patience and positivity scored.  Not once did you overpower me, 2018!

Your round nine triple punch combination came close.

The first blow fouled below the belt. Bed bugs? Really? This Ohio epidemic endangered what scant social interactions remained. Between that and your second hit, severe  anemia,  I was almost totally isolated for months.          

I staggered. Your third punch tossed me to the ropes. Anxiety swelled, accompanied by undeniable early signs of depression.   

If you stuck out your chest to boast, you underestimated how much fight boils in my blood!. Upon recognizing my old mental nemeses, I rose inspired, powerful, and defiant.  

Not only did you lose twelve rounds, it was JOY that knocked you out for good in your last wheezing weeks. You see, I know something you do not. God gave you to me. God turns everything out for the good of those who love him and are called according to his purpose (Romans 8:26-28). 

Too bad for you, 2018. You stung like a bee, but God grounded this butterfly in his love. 

Hello 2019! You may yet turn out to be a ringer, but I know Who holds me and will never let me go.  

Check out the score!

  1. JOY √ A neighbor came to Christ
  2. JOY √ A second member of the neighborhood Bible study came to Christ
  3. JOY √ One neighbor started bringing her grandchildren over for their very own “God class.” 
  4. YIPPEE! √ I won my very first IRS tax-exemption status without using a lawyer! 
  5. JOY √ The bugs forced a healthy household purge, and brought by an exterminator who needed encouragement.  
  6. FUN √ I hosted Thanksgiving reuniting long-lost relatives.   
  7. JOY √ Anemia keeps me home most days, so offering support is more of an inside job. (fostering a cat for a woman in transition, and sorting papers for someone with depression.) Occasionally, people drop by who need a listening ear. The neighborhood Bible study continues.
  8. JOY √ My church’s new associate pastor is allowing me to teach short-term classes.
  9. YAY √ Finally, I began formal (online) schooling for certification as a Life Coach. This workable compromise opens a virtually unlimited field as one can grow and specialize. 
  10. JOY √ I was able to speak to the women in recovery at Timberline Knolls in Chicago

          Today’s Helpful Word

     Romans 8:38-39 

“For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

 

***** 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.

 

A Visit to Rehab: The Greatest of These is Love

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

This past Sunday, I drove to Chicago.  The director of alumni events at a rehabilitation center had invited me to speak with residents on Monday. 

Morning came early. While much of the U.S.A. was arising and heading to work or school, these women  continued the fight  to gain recovery from addiction, eating disorders, mental health challenges, or all three. Excited and a little nervous, I left the hotel to join them.

Women in the rehab program advance in liberties as they progress. This time, my audience consisted of women in the process of learning to make healthier choices without constant supervision.  They are well on their way to going home, clean and sober. In fact, a few of them  graduated that day!

Most people in recovery have been told numerous times they are worthless, many since childhood. As part of my story,  I shared the reality of God’s love and message. I added, “I am a Christian, born-again, a follower of Jesus. But those are only words. Hopefully, my life reflects who he is.” Everyone nodded. 

America today hears much rhetoric about Christians, evangelicals in particular, and the mix of religion with politics as if faith in Jesus and a certain political party are one and the same.  It is difficult for those who do not know, to grasp who Jesus actually is. 

In some ways, the standard for Christians is raised. Show me you mean it. Show me you do not hate or despise me. Match your choices to your words. Prove your faith by your love. In extending love and compassion, and sincere non-critical acceptance to people in all stages of their journey, we represent God as the Bible reveals him.*

Mental health treatment in this country is greatly lacking. It is not available everywhere,  and is expensive for most.  Parity in the insurance realm is inconsistent. There are few standards by which to measure how long a patient should stay in a hospital.

In my opinion, stigma and lack of knowledge are the primary reasons we do not take care of mentally ill and emotionally unstable people. There is judgment – “I do not believe in mental health disability, I just don’t.”  “Depression is not an illness,  with enough faith (or strength) anyone can snap out of it.” “You are adopting the principles of the world if you give psychology any merit.” 

All these have been said to me, about me, plus many more accusations of failure. If I could describe  the beauty of joy and hope in the faces of the women I met on Monday,  perhaps more could see the value of mental (some call it behavioral) healthcare.  Maybe  God could get some credit for knowing what he is doing in each person’s life! 

Meanwhile, it is tremendous joy being vulnerable and open with people in the middle of the struggle. They, as do we all, respond to love.

Today’s Helpful Word

Mark 10:46-52

Then they came to Jericho. As Jesus and his disciples, together with a large crowd, were leaving the city, a blind man, Bartimaeus (which means “son of Timaeus”), was sitting by the roadside begging.  When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”

Many rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”

Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.”

So they called to the blind man, “Cheer up! On your feet! He’s calling you.” Throwing his cloak aside, he jumped to his feet and came to Jesus.

“What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus asked him.

The blind man said, “Rabbi, I want to see.”

“Go,” said Jesus, “your faith has healed you.” Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus along the road.

***** 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.

-woman pic by LUSI on rgbstock.com; Jesus pic from freebibleimages.org

*This does not imply avoidance of the topic of sin. As seen in my work s a whole, my emphasis is how we approach people. Are we interested in gaining insight into another person’s struggle? Jesus showed sincere non-critical acceptance to hurting people, and in the context of meeting their needs, taught them to know him.   

The Past is Not Yours to Keep

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

Let it go. We’ve all heard the phrase. Did you know your past paves every corridor of your being? How is one to let the past go when it is reflected in who you are today?

Sitting in the therapist’s office, I said sincerely, “It is not mine to keep.” Unfortunately, it was not the past or negativity of which I spoke. It was the comfort of a good day, a nice moment I was certain did not belong to me. 

Sure, I was deep in depression. No doubt that partly explains the attitude. Yet how is one to overcome depression while clinging to a prevailing mindset of defeat? Major depression had its roots, but was I feeding it? 

In my mind, I was disqualified for anything good. What sorrow in that statement!  Thankfully, and with great joy, I can say that is no longer my experience! I’ve learned to let the past go.

You are not trapped

The past carries pain for many of us. Divorce, perceived business failure, abuse, loss… you can easily write your mental list. That is part of a defeatist issue – how simple it is to fill out such a list of negative experiences. 

Doing so can lock you in to a sense of victimization. You may have been a victim at one time. The hands or decisions of others may have caused you great harm.  Those events matter; they do not own you. You can escape the cycle of defeat and disqualification. Victimization does not have to continue.

How to let the past go

  1. If you are currently abused, end the abuse.  I can only suggest you reach out for help from someone or an organization that knows what to do.  You will find numerous phone numbers and websites listed on my The Truth About Abuse resource page. Click here.
  2. Challenge your negative self-talk. Question the messages that fill you with self-doubt and fear. Take notice of evidence that contradicts the old “I’m hopeless” repertoire circling in your racing thoughts. Consider this. You have read over half of a blog about moving beyond the past. That means you have a glimmer of hope for change. If that much hope can exist, so can more!
  3. Start writing down every one of your successes no matter how small. Perhaps you tend to dwell on shame for things you have said. Instead, record the times you have not spoken hurtful words. Count the smallest of moments. How about your encounter with a waiter last week? You were polite. There was no fight. If it is possible once, why not many more? 
  4. Look inside yourself, perhaps with the help of a therapist, and see if false beliefs are guiding your decisions. Complexities may take some time. However, it is very much worth your investment. 
  5. Allow God to work in your heart. He is the difference-maker!  When you realize he embraces and forgives you, your ability to forgive yourself and others grows strong. Become rooted in the knowledge of God through his Word, the Bible. You will begin to fully grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ Jesus. (Ephesians 3: 16-19) 

Once your ideas about who you are and how you interact with the world begin to take a positive turn, you will find it easier to let go of the past. 

After all, you do not own it.  It is gone. It is not yours to keep.

Today’s Helpful Word

2 Corinthians 5:17, 18a 

“This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!  And all of this is a gift from God, who brought us back to himself through Christ.”

***** 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.

*Trees by XYMONAU of rgbstock.com

 

 

This Hope I Share:  It Is Real

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

When I speak of hope, my intention is to reach those who have trouble believing in it.  Lately, absence of old thinking patterns draws me to gratitude.  The daily barrage of self-doubt and nearly constant guilt are gone. I’m 57 years old! To think this freedom escaped me until recent years  could be sad.  However, I spend zero time in the past.  How precious is the gift of joy now!

A dream

“Who, me?” Turning to see whom Jesus was inviting to come closer, I realized he was beckoning to me. Surrounded by a mass of people spreading over green hills and mountains, he sat on table rock, holding children on his lap.

In reality, I was twenty-four years old. In this dream I was five. It was nearly impossible to comprehend he would choose me out of this crowd. Hesitantly I walked toward him, uncertain he would not change his mind.

His eyes were welcoming, piercing straight into my hurting heart. Crawling up on his lap, suddenly I was able to understand that he was holding every individual assembled there simultaneously, loving each equally with all his being.

What a peaceful wonder on which to focus.

God’s love in action

Once,  I tried to describe to a pastor the daily dread and hopelessness I felt. “I feel like I  am  standing  in  the  middle  of the road, a semi-truck barreling down on me, and my only escape is to jump aside. Lining  the  side  of  the road  are  snarling  dogs,  hungrily  watching my every move. God is above, waiting to see what choice I will make.”

“Nancy, where you are wrong is that God has jumped in front of that truck with you and is going to carry you to safety,” he said.

Considering my suicide attempt six years later, it may appear that God forgot to rescue me from the truck. However,  sometimes it is in the deepest pits we learn our most meaningful lessons.

Today I know joy. Today I know peace.  The love of Jesus’ embrace gives me rest.    

This hope is what I want to share with those who struggle to believe it exists.  It is real.

Today’s Helpful Word

Psalm 33:20-22

We wait in hope for the Lordhe is our help and our shield. In him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in his holy name. May your unfailing love be with us, Lordeven as we put our hope in 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 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.

*blue sky by TACLUDA ;  yellow sky by mzacha on rgbstock.com

Is All The Bad News Messing With Your Mental Health?

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

Watching the news is like taking a bath in negativity and cynicism.  You know as well as I that heroic events take place each day.  That is because for every awful news story, there are first responders,  families  gathering to pray and comfort one another, and neighbors helping neighbors. 

Yesterday,  some well-trained air traffic controllers went to work,  ready to save lives for eight hours as they do each day.  Military pilots dressed in their uniforms, kissed their spouses, and left.  First responders prepared for unpredictable shifts.  No one knew they would be joined in an effort at saving a man’s life.  

That is not how the news story read, is it?  The headline was not “Dozens Offer Hope to Desperate Man.” No. News  stories focused on a stolen plane, a man’s suicide, and then security issues at the hangar.  This is the negative bent that makes the news business rich. Eventually, it makes us afraid.  

Peace of mind does not seem to result from watching or reading the news. However, taking a break from it, does. Participation in creativity, sport, eye-to-eye connection, and laughter, enriches us. Biting back would-be complaints and looking for beauty instead raises our spirits.

Our mental health is often linked to how we think.  Avoiding the news will not make everything all better. It will, however, make life less challenging.

You have probably heard wise advice about keeping toxic people at arm’s length.  Why then, invite the same poison in to our homes via the news?

Earlier this week I had enough of the racing thoughts, flashbacks, and other PTSD-related symptoms that have been more sensitive lately.  I asked God in prayer to help me, and he is. One of the truths I believe he reminded me is to stay away from the news for a while.

Do we need to know about all the murders and war crimes and natural disasters? No.  Our best option is not sheltered ignorance, either. Nonetheless, there is no need to delve into the news every day or for more than a few minutes. 

Joy is everywhere. Choose it.

Today’s Helpful Word

Philippians 4:8 

 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

 

***** 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.

*phone pic by LUCI on rgbstock.com

Joy Is In the Making: How Stress and Poor Health Led to Positive Change in 2017

Compassionate Love: Displaying Compassion for Those Who Struggle with Mental Illness, Addiction, and Abuse   (c)2018  Nancy Virden, Always The Fight Ministries

One year ago, I was struggling with severe stress, doing what I knew to do to cope, and having some rather good days despite inner turmoil. I was in pain emotionally, however the drive to push forward and change how I feel had become somewhat automatic in recent years. 

Familiar depression and darker thoughts visited in January, February, and March. I was never in danger of self-harm, yet wondered dozens of times each day why I was trying so hard.  Grief over personal loss, a terrible sense of rejection, and a loss of focus ministry-wise held me in mental chains. 

In trying to express this to a few carefully selected confidants, I watched as they reacted by  backing-off.  Honestly I cannot blame them because they feared for me, and in the past I have unfortunately given reason to their concern. It was disappointing though, mostly that the work I’ve done to combat stigma did not seem to have had an impact. I felt very alone.  

What no one knew is what all this was doing to my physical health. Severe anemia due to stress-induced gastric blood loss landed me in the hospital twice. Complications to one of those admissions caused harm to an ankle that has still not healed. July to September were spent in a wheelchair, and a cane has accompanied me since.  

Eventually, Always The Fight Ministries changed, as instead of giving up (the biggest temptation), it was rearranged to require less of my focus. The details to all this are many. Those decisions took months and in some ways continue still. 

Change is good much of the time. A direct result of my health problems led me to switch to an accessible church where I discovered my gifts are needed and desired. The care ministry there provides opportunity to use my art as gifts to the sick. I’m excited to be teaching a scripture memory class beginning this Sunday.  Old friends attend this church, and chances to meet many  new ones abound.

The personal loss and grief that hurt so much pushed me to find solutions and healthy ways to cope. Feeling alone inspired weekly dinners with family, saying yes to social events more regularly,  and inviting people to my home.  I learned to proactively combat isolation.

It took awhile for the overwhelming emotions to dissipate completely. By September,  joy was filling my hopes and dreams once again. That is when the best part of 2017 occurred. 

On a warm afternoon, I wheeled to the homes of several neighbors and invited them to a weekly neighborhood Bible study at my house.  The result so far is six women besides myself, studying the Word of God.  It’s been a blast introducing these new friends to Bible stories, and to the God those stories prove. 

This past year was one of great challenges. It ended with renewed sense of purpose, and satisfaction in doing what I enjoy.  Learning to accept and nurture my emotional needs has been a little like being set free. 

Here’s to 2018 and whatever it may hold. I’m stronger than I was 12 months ago, and of course, my Lord has not changed. He walked me through it all and I know he will never let me go.  

Today’s Helpful Word 

 

 

Feeling Better Feels Better – 2 Mantras to Help You Find Joy

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

Driving up to a CVS drive-thru, a thought that has been on my mind lately paid another visit. 

You see, a few years ago I used the term “assuage” (meaning to lessen an intense feeling) in an email to my therapist.  The reply included, “I never knew that word until I helped my daughter with her spelling list last night. One of the words is assuage. HaHaHa. It’s in the small stuff!”

It’s in the small stuff. Joy.  Amusement at life’s little quirks.  Relief from negativity. Hope.

My aunt, who has been a huge inspiration since my childhood, once talked about finding beauty spots wherever she travelled. Lovingly cared-for flower gardens in a front yard, a wild daffodil on the side of a freeway, a pretty city square – these are all types of things we may not notice every day. 

Inspiration in motion

When I first moved from  country to city life thirty years ago,  the idea could not have been less appealing. Why, cities are ugly with cement and wires, very little grass, few trees, and more cement!  These were my thoughts concerning Cleveland; I needed to find beauty in my new town.

The first house was old with prism windows. Rainbows splattered across the furniture and floors every day. Later, the home I am still in,  has woods out back. Deer come regularly to munch and sun themselves,  birds sing,  and even a family of ducks once waddled down our sidewalk.

At CVS this morning, I noticed the bright yellow of the poles protecting the building from careless drivers. It brought a small smile to my face because that shade of yellow is my favorite color. Talk about small stuff! That made me laugh, too. 

It takes practice, but anyone can start today. Start noticing.  Start appreciating.

Two mantras to keep in mind

  1. It’s in the small stuff
  2. Beauty is everywhere

Discovery is a fun game to play whether alone, car-pooling, playing with children, or at work. What is beautiful in your life today? 

Today’s Helpful Word

Psalm 106:1, 2

 Praise the Lord. Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever. Who can proclaim the mighty acts of the Lord or fully declare his praise?

 

 

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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.

  • log pic by kozzi.com tree pic by RWLINDER on rgbstock.com

For Peace of Mind, Embrace Your Complete Past As-Is

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

Hundreds of uncategorized blog posts.  Hundreds of old posts in need of editing. Hundreds.

Day after day for the last three and a half months I have worked at repairing five years of work. At the start in 2012, some of my ideas were incomplete and in a few cases, wrong.  By ditching the most questionable and fixing the rest, I am rewriting history. Within a few weeks the archives will seem as if I’ve been articulate from the beginning. 

That is how I want to be understood and remembered. Well-spoken, wise, helpful… also non-conformist, irreverent, challenging the status quo and false piety.  Ironically, I may be better known as the opposite of the above, at least by some people. 

One mother said, “I wish my teenagers could remember their early years when we shared so much laughter. They will not remember me from then – they will only recall these tougher years when I have to be strict and more disciplinary.”

Darn it. She’s right. The negatives of my family of origin are easily recalled. I’ve written and spoken about the open hostility, emotional neglect, and abuse. However, am I rewriting history by focusing only on the bad (albeit very bad) stories? Truth needs no repair.  Fuzzy and shrouded good memories are still memories.  

Some of my fondest remembrances are due to my dad, the same man I credit with near-total destruction of my childhood. It’s confusing, and yet reality.

He took me for long drives, allowing me to choose “turn right” or “turn left”.  Once convinced I had him thoroughly lost, his challenge was to get us home, which invariably he did. 

On these fun outings he would point out falling stars, roaming deer, full moons, and other points of nature. In those days, falling stars were rare, and deer were not often seen. He would say, “Remember – this is once in a lifetime.” 

He could not have known that one day deer would leisurely munch in my backyard, or that meteor showers would be forecast. You see, it is not the end story that determines a memory’s value. What made it special in the first place was quantity time with my dad.

So it is when pain pierces a nice memory.  Good does not become fake when simultaneously mixed with evil. Most of my life I separated the two, and obliterated positive experiences from my mind. If hurt, betrayal, or abuse was reality, then pleasantry, trust, and safety were not. 

I write this as a warning to anyone who thinks similarly. That black and white interpretation of life will remove peace of mind and prevent joy.  

I urge you to look at both realities. Yes, some memories are agonizing. Accepting that fact is hard yet healing. Also factual are those moments beauty, kindness, or reprieve flavored life. Try very hard to focus on those. Give your past a break by embracing history in its fulness.

Today’s Helpful Word

Psalm 32:22

And I said, “This is my fate;
    the Most High has turned his hand against me.”
But then I recall all you have done, O Lord;
    I remember your wonderful deeds of long ago.

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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.