Tag Archives: lonely

Bad News, Good News: How to Change Your Perspective When a Relationship Ends

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

hands

Good news and bad news are matters of perspective. 

Bad news:  Friendships and marriages do not always last.  

Good news:  We have power over our response.

One possibility is to hide.  In our houses, under a workload, or staring at a phone, we can wear cold smiles, vowing no one again will get close enough to cause us pain.  Such a decision rarely works for our best.  Loneliness grows when we disconnect.  

A healthier choice is to reach out despite our feelings. Bruised and weak,  anger, confusion, self-loathing, or a depressed mood may fill our days.  Making a call,  sending a text,  or meeting up with friends is challenging when we hurt. It is risky too.

Yet this is the very reason  to reach out. We need support, second opinions, and distraction from our troubled thoughts. 

Create your good news

How does one reach out knowing something unpleasant might happen? We just do.  A therapist once suggested that to fight isolation I go to a convenience store late at night and chat with a clerk. Going to church, speaking with co-workers, attending a local game – each idea has merit. Sometimes helping others through volunteerism is a positive way to escape a self-protective cage. 

Small steps are monumental when recovering from damaged trust. Since emotional safety does matter, take time to observe a person in social situations before leaping into a full friendship. Listen for clues to his or her attitude and notice character traits.  Once the safety test is passed, seize the opportunity to trust again. It is the best bet we have.

When a friendship or marriage is lost, we may feel alone. This can change. Let us hope instead of hide, and find as well as be the kind of people we want to know.

 **********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.

 

Unconditional Love: The Forgotten Source of Hope

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

Among people who struggle with emotional instability, mental illness, addiction, or abuse I have observed a common thread shared with all of humanity. It is both universal and intimate, a want and need.

I have, as so many others, desperately tried to find it or escape from its absence through relationships, substances, entertainment, physical pleasure, and even rumination on the value of my life.  

The longing that shapes almost every human decision is for unconditional love. 

At the crux of all the world’s troubles

Pride and corruption in high places are about power and greed. Yet what is power without adoring followers? What is there to riches except to say, “Look at what I have!”

The poor and marginalized cry out for justice; their cause, righteous.  Nonetheless, the plea behind it all is for unconditional love – acceptance as equals in society. 

In homes and on playgrounds, one can see the push-pull for unconditional love. Each of us seeks it,  few offer it.  Our best attempts at giving love without strings fall short. 

Some of us believe a lie – that the world’s inability to love us well means we are unlovable. We become grateful for whatever crumbs fall our way, even if they are served with abuse and more lies.

With eyes focused on guilt or shame, some of us feel unworthy of great love. 

It is time to accept your true identity

God’s love transcends pity. His mercy is not because you are a nothing and only by rolling his eyes and shaking his head can he love you.

No, he knew beforehand everything you would and have become,  including what has happened to you and how it shaped your beliefs.  He saw your blunders, the pain you would cause other people, and how much sorrow he would suffer due to your unbelief and sin. He knew the details of your weaknesses and failings before he gave you life… and made you anyway.

Why? He loved you before you were born; his plans for you are not shaken. His ultimate goal has always been to spend eternity with you because he loves and wants to be with you that much.

Yours for the taking

Sometimes we tend to think “love hurts, and is not worth the pain.” It is the opposite with God’s unconditional love. He saw ahead of time that you would not love him perfectly, and brought you into the world anyway. All the pain IS worth it to him. YOU are worth it.

As absence of unconditional love can trap us in cycles, so its unfailing presence sets us free. We can strip off the disguises, and come to him as-is. This source of perfect grace and mercy, justice and forgiveness, strength to save and power to love is the ever-present, all-knowing highest power,  the God of the Bible as revealed to us in the life, death, and resurrection of his only birth-Son, Jesus Christ. 

You are loved.

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, Lordfor our hope is in you alone.

 

*********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.

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

From All Alone to Not Alone and How to Get There

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

handsEveryone’s abandoned me. I’m all alone.

Sound familiar? Perhaps they have been in your unexpressed thoughts. They are old foes in my brain.  Nursing them has never been helpful. Yet in the midst of great pain and loneliness, rejection (perceived or real) makes them seem true and terminal.

When I first moved to where I am now, I knew no one. The following year I grew majorly depressed. Because isolation is a symptom of depression,  the few people I’d come to know I was turning away. The day I chose to end my life I was invited to meet a woman for tea. No kidding, I canceled the appointment in despair thinking,  I am so lonely! I have no one! Where is my support?

Major Depression robs us of reason. In the throes of it we can see only a minute part of the world around us. We may be dismayed at how much we do not care about anything except our suffering, but Major Depression turns even that to self-hate, I’m a horrible person. This focus is tough to challenge when the very nature of our problem is illness of the brain.

Over the last three and a half years professionals have encouraged and prodded me to reach out, build support, find safe people, pursue those who pursue me, and leave others behind. Regardless how I feel,  one tiny step leads to the next. One small decision makes way for another. When I am lonely a step toward people is hard but doable.  Fear of reaching out drives me to take that step toward safe people. 

There are and always will be people who erroneously consider themselves supportive, yet make us feel worse. Their best efforts are useless because they focus on “fixing” us. In worst-case scenarios some people actually do not care about our struggle. 

Compassionate love is out there and by taking a step toward it, it will take a step toward you as well. Give it time, and keep walking.

******

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.

*picture from qualitystockphotos