Tag Archives: judging

Judging Motives: Depression Meets a Closed Mind (Or – Jeff Foxworthy Faced a Heckler)

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

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Photo by Designecologist on Pexels.com

Can we fully understand anyone else’s motives? 

Foxworthy

Jeff Foxworthy was called “mean” by one of the audience members as he hosted the television game show,  Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader.  His contestant was none other than Dan Whitney, playing his famous comedic character, Larry the Cable Guy. If you recall, Foxworthy and Whitney toured together for several years and have a long friendship.  

What might you have thought if you heard Foxworthy imply in front of millions of viewers that Larry was stupid?  

Whitney is a very successful comedian, actor, producer, and author.  “Larry” on the other hand is not so intelligent and is highly unsophisticated. Whitney and Foxworthy play off each other like an old married couple. 

Foxworthy replied to the heckler. “I’m not mean. I love this guy. We’ve been friends for a long time.”

We all judge

That situation may seem obvious because most of us know who are these two men involved in teasing each other. However,  all humans judge others – we do! It is not a question of judging or not. It is a matter of consciously challenging stereotypes, stigma, and negative perceptions.

If you have thought or said “stupid driver” about the person who doesn’t move as soon as the light turns green, you have made a negative assumption. If you assume laziness to be the problem when you see the mother in the grocery store with two screaming kids, you have allowed stigma to do your thinking.

Depression’s hecklers

As one with a mental illness history, I’ve felt the distrust and disdain of those who do not understand. Trying to explain the tunnel-vision that accompanies major depression, I told a man that for a while it feels like ‘me me me’. He said, “Yes, and that’s sinful. We are to be unselfish and loving.”

Nice.

Depression may prevent a woman or man from responding as we wish. She struggles to reason because her perceptions are negative. This is temporary. Meanwhile, of course she needs attention. He needs someone to dole out his meds. She wants to hear she is loved as-is. He longs for his friends to contact him so he does not feel forgotten.

The answer

We actually cannot understand anyone else’s motives. We must offer the benefit of a doubt, and believe a person’s explanation until facts show us otherwise. Close-minded people will be the last to learn.  Mental illness, abuse, and addiction each come with a crowd of assumptions and negative judgments.  

Let’s be leaders in setting higher examples, and casting the rallying cry for more eyes that willingly see, ears that choose to hear, and gentle respect for each other.

Today’s Helpful Word  

Galatians 6: 4-5
“Each one should test their own actions. Then they can take pride in themselves alone, without comparing themselves to someone else, for each one should carry their own load.”

 

**** COMMENTS ALWAYS WELCOME

NOTE:  I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I speak only from personal experiences with and observations of mental and behavioral health challenges.  In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental or behavioral health care.

If you are feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, in the U.S. call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or for a list of international suicide hotlines, go here.

If you are suicidal with a plan, immediately call 911 in the U.S. or go to your nearest emergency room. (for international emergency numbers, go here ). Hope and help are yours!

 

Comparing Mental Health to “Real” Issues? Not Fair

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

“There’s been a tsunami, people have lost their homes, and there is so much suffering in the world besides. C’mon people. Get it together!”  Jennifer  was frustrated, and although she also was struggling with depression, she believed the stresses others in the Intensive Outpatient Program were facing could not compare to the “real” issues of 2011.

About a dozen persons struggling with severe depression, bipolar depression, and other disorders comprised this group. Several had attempted suicide, some more than once.  Jennifer did not know anyone’s level of pain or personal history.  With only her experience to use as a measuring rod, she scolded members to “get it together,”  adding to feelings of guilt, worthlessness, and hopelessness. 

I disagree passionately with comparing pain between people, or against ours. The analogy I like to use is that of a stubbed toe and broken leg.  We know a broken bone hurts more intensely at first and for a longer period than a banged foot. It also requires more health care from professionals. Yet will we say the toe pain does not hurt? If we stub a toe,  we will certainly say ouch and limp for few minutes!

In the moment, the throbbing toe demands our attention. If only for a few seconds, we will be unable to function as usual. In the world of mental disorders, the intensity and duration of symptoms can vary. If dysfunction lasts for days or weeks or months, who are we to offhandedly dismiss another person’s experience?

Yes, the world is a collision of serious problems. Comparing trouble to trouble, we will find those who seem to have it worse. If  looking at mental illness from only one perspective however, we can fall into judgementalism and falsely accuse people who are doing their best of making too much of little.

Next time you or someone you know faces depression, anxiety, or any mental illness, remember the stubbed toe. Be kind to each person who struggles to cope.

Today’s Helpful Word

James 3:17

“But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere.”

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 by LUSI on rgbstock.com

Why ‘Mental Health and Recovery Advocacy’ is Important for Christians. Part 3

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

A girl eats too much. Is she a glutton, mentally unhealthy, or both? Could it be she is not used to having enough food, has a thyroid problem, or is taking medication that makes her ravenous? Maybe her family taunts her when she tries to eat healthier than they do. Perhaps it is her way of protecting herself from more sexual assault. 

No behavioral issue is as simple as it looks on the surface.  That is why it is such a gift of grace to know that God looks at our hearts – our intentions, and deep motives. He sees beyond where humans judge.*

Mental Health and Recovery Advocacy is promotion of that higher ideal with a challenge to all. Look beyond what your eyes tell you, take the time to ask gentle questions, and choose to love a person with the respect that allows her to share her story. **

There is an unfortunate confusion.  I suspect in the Christian faith, and perhaps in other religions as well, that stigma surrounding mental illness translates a person’s difficulty into “spiritual problem.”

Inside and outside Christian circles, openness about my struggle with major depression recurrent has brought funny looks. Prospective employers dismiss me after a Google search. I lost my radio show sponsor last summer due to his fear. In general, where stigma exists, there is anger, distrust, and disapproval. 

Let’s get it straight

Misunderstanding is based on the assumption that mental illness and its symptoms are mere choices. By that misguided standard, if we are not joyous and hopeful we stand to be condemned as weak or attention-seekers. Hearing voices is “crazy” and makes a person less-than. Suicidal ideation is a character flaw. 

Do we with mental illness need to love and obey God? Yes, and he is often the only hope we know. However, since we cannot know the intricacies of another’s suffering, it is unfair to tell anyone in the struggle of their life  that stability is simply a matter of choice. 

Thinking errors may necessarily have to be addressed before an understanding of God’s Word can take full effect. Traumatic pasts create warped worldviews. Dysfunctional families do not pass down the tools necessary for healthy giving and receiving of love. 

Changing my stinkin’ thinkin’  was driven by a desire to honor God.  Yet in the five decades prior, he did not turn his back to me. Jesus stands with us in our confusion.  

God is present in the middle of our gravest mental illnesses, in our despair, cognitive impairment, and false beliefs. He is with us while we practice addict behaviors in motels, empty warehouses, and during our self-loathing. We stuff our faces and pride, and he is there. We lie for the fiftieth time, and he knows us better than we do. If all we can muster in our darkness is ”help,” he hears and honors that heart-cry.

The psalmist indicates his faith by writing, “O LORD, God of my salvation…,”  yet adds, “I am in a trap with no way of escape. My eyes are blinded by my tears. Each day I beg for your help, O LORD; I lift my hands to you for mercy.” 

Love points to the character of God.

In all of our imperfection,  God is meeting us where we are, and loving us back into healthy bodies, minds, and souls as we let him. Since he who knows us intimately is patient with our limitations, how can we not advocate for each person who suffers?

Knowledge and insight produce the best spiritual fruits of kindness, goodness, and gentleness. God is love, and that is our calling.

Today’s Helpful Word

Proverbs 14:10

“Each heart knows its own bitterness, and no one else can fully share its joy.” 

********

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.

*”If we had forgotten the name of our God or spread our hands in prayer to foreign gods, God would surely have known it, for he knows the secrets of every heart.” Psalm 44: 20, 21

*”The LORD doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7

**”A wise person is hungry for knowledge, while the fool feeds on trash.” Proverbs 15:14

***Psalm 88

-heart pic by LUSI on rgbstock.com; couple pic from Kozzi.com

Don’t Do This When Your Loved One is Depressed

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

On a good day, how do you like it when...photo-24786491-old-man-seriously-pointing

  • Your boss says, “You could work faster, you’re just lazy” 
  • Your spouse slams a door, and hollers. 
  • Your friend makes his point repeatedly to coerce you to think as he does ?

On a good day, where do your thoughts go when…

photo-24710174-neon-pink-girl-points

  • Your friends do not include you in their plans
  • Your spouse does not respond when you are sick
  • People try to “fix” you
  • Your character is attacked

Imagine then, how all this is not helpful in a struggling person’s depression.

At present I’m disappointed in a friend. I thought he was above badgering, refusing to listen, and falsely accusing.

An emotionally  fragile young man struggled with suicidal thinking. My friend told him his depression was the result of sin. The young man told him the accusation was making him feel more hopeless.  

As my friend sent text after text to the man in distress, he was unaware I was on the phone listening to the young man’s growing hurt and despair. When I confronted my friend on his carelessness at a dangerous time, he turned on me. He said I was selfish, and unwilling to help the young man (for money nonetheless, but that’s another story!).

photo-24723911-tensed-businessman-sitting-on-chair.

Why would we assume a depressed person wants to hear our quick-fix opinions?

Most of us are not mental health professionals, and none of us have all the answers no matter how much we think we know.  It is inappropriate to diagnose and offer cures when we do not understand the complexities of another person’s brain and issues.

At the very least, we can withhold judgment and a berating tone. Listening to what a depressed person says they need is important.

Compassionate love, as well as common sense,  places safety above opinions.  

*********

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.

Hatred Destroys, Love Builds

Compassionate Love: Displaying compassion for those who struggle with mental illness  (c)2014 Nancy Virden

photo-24786479-businessman-offering-a-handHatred destroys. “I don’t hate anyone, I just don’t like that kind around my neighborhood.”

Hatred judges. “They are not open to my way of thinking, so they are terrible.”

Hatred sees groups, not persons. “The you-know-whats are at it again.”

Hatred denies. “I’m not phobic or bigoted. I just don’t like them.”

Hatred reads all this and responds, “It’s not about me.”

Love builds. “Welcome, and may I help you to move in?”

Love accepts. “We disagree, so what? You still coming over on movie night?”

Love sees the person. “I want to get to know you before I decide who you are.”

Love needs no defense. “I know I do not hate you because I value you enough to be involved in your life.”

Love reads all this and responds, “I want to make sure I’m not hating anyone.”

*****

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 qualitystockphotos.com