Tag Archives: memories

3 Ideas to Turn Around Your Post-Thanksgiving Crash

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

q8p4W06An emotional crash following Thanksgiving is probably as common as turkey dinners. These crashes come in different strengths.

For one, the crash may last a few minutes and have little more than an extra piece of pie to blame. As blood sugar levels bounce around, we can feel a little moody. 

Another person may sense strongly the disappointments of yet another family gathering. Having entered the holiday hoping for a new and improved experience, one may leave believing nothing will ever change. This crash ranges anywhere between sadness to major depression to despair. 

Then there is the host, who after weeks of preparation is left with great memories and the question, “What am I supposed to do next?” This let-down is about tiredness, a decline in adrenaline, and perhaps the return to a less-than exciting routine.   

Whatever the source of our emotional crash, we have the power to turn it around!

  1. Take care of your body. TLC (tender loving care) never hurt anyone. Rest, eat right, and stretch and exercise. Pace yourself. Allow some of the so-called urgent matters to wait for a few days. 
  2. Take care of your supportive relationships. If you are peopled-out, perhaps send a simple text to a friend expressing your love and intention to hibernate for a day or two.  Reach out to those who are most valuable to your sense of well-being. Offer them the light of joy too. 
  3. Take care of your mind. Fill your thoughts with good memories, doable plans for the future, and positive distractions. Ideas about next year’s Thanksgiving do not have to be decided today! Instead, hope may rise as you consider meeting a goal at work, or seeing a friend for lunch. What produces life and strength in your thoughts? Embrace that.

Our emotional crash after Thanksgiving does not have to own the coming days and weeks. Stay in the moment, taking one day at a time, and enjoy today. 

Today’s Helpful Word

Matthew 11:28-30

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” -Jesus

***** 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.

 

Pumpkin by JULISCALZI 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.

 

Goodbye Dad. Hello

Compassionate Love: Displaying Compassion for Those Who Struggle with Mental Illness   (c)2015 Nancy Virden

(This is my dad’s eulogy as I shared it at his funeral December 24, 2015)

Goodbye, Dad.photo

Dads are big. Dads speak into our lives and help to shape our beliefs. How we view ourselves and the world, as well as the life choices we make can be powerfully influenced by our dads. They show us by example how to be. Hopefully they are protectors and wise.

My dad was a mixed bag as are we all. He lived a long life sometimes getting it right, and sometimes getting it wrong. His relationships thrived and languished, his faith was strong and weak, and he succeeded and failed.

Who did you experience my dad to be? How will you reflect on this friend, brother, uncle, father, and grandfather? Today we celebrate my dad’s wins. He was rich with gifts he offered to us and to this town. Following our heavenly Father’s example, we place anything else under grace.

Goodbye Dad. Hello.

Hello to sweet memories. My first datable memory of dad was the day of JFK’s death, when at age 2 1/2, I wanted to cross the street to the Alliance hospital to help the hurt man feel better. It was Dad who prevented me from running into traffic. Years later, he carried me across that street when my foot got mangled in his bicycle wheel.

One of the biggest surprises of my life happened on Christmas 1968. We went shopping at the old Carousel store in Canton. I saw rows and rows of teddy bears, and especially liked a particular brown one. We were in the car ready to go home when dad said he left something in the store. Christmas morning, “Chocolate” as I named her was under the tree. This bear has been with me since, ever the reminder that I was important to my dad.

Six years ago he was relieved to have landed a room in the Community Care Center with a window directly across from that old hospital and our original home. He would point at Burt St. where he taught me to ride a bike, and would reminisce about letting go of the seat to watch me balance and ride without his help. He remembered placing pennies on the train tracks with Steve and me. From that window he sadly watched the old hospital, house, and neighborhood transform into a parking lot.

In 1970, dad moved us to the country. Dad’s love for dogs is why he rescued an abused one and gave him to us as a pet. Seezer, a red-orange long-haired mutt with no sense, had that God-like gift of grace – an amazing capacity to love unconditionally. Most dogs do, and I wonder if that is why my dad was never without one.

He raised his own Caesar in the 80s, a beautiful boxer with a gentle giant temperament. This was my dad’s all-time favorite dog. Dad bragged about the tender way Caesar played with a baby. He saved pictures of Caesar with his regular outdoor playmate, a wild rabbit. He spoiled Caesar with peanut butter, and Caesar spoiled him back with sloppy kisses. He never stopped talking about that dog, and a portrait of Caesar sat framed in my dad’s room in the Care Center.

Dad loved country life. One day when I was a pre-teen, I heard a shout. “Nancy! Come here. Now! Hurry!” I raced outside only to find him staring at something across the yard. About 25 feet away stood a crow just looking at us, completely unconcerned. “Listen,” Dad said.

“Hello,” said the crow. “Hello, hello.”

Dad enjoyed sharing that moment with me, and reminded me to never forget it because talking crows in the wild are rare. We laughed, and he was pleased when I brought it up 40 years later.

Goodbye Dad. Hello.

Hello to gratitude. No doubt the gusto for life that led my dad to hop in a pick-up truck at age 18 and cross the country with a friend, was the spirit he wanted to pass on to us – independent and boundary less. Because of his love for experiences, he provided them. Steve and I each saw Europe. In the US,  our family visited historical and natural sites from the east coast to the Rocky Mountains. We traveled up to Canada and down to Florida. Because of him, I learned bee-keeping, small farming, and construction.

We met astronaut-turned senator John Glenn at the US Capitol. I sat in the chair of the Speaker of the House, and again my dad cautioned me to never forget that one-time opportunity.

Dad enjoyed throwing parties, and was responsible for convincing leadership to allow the first co-ed gathering at Cleveland Bible College in the 1950s. His ability to plan and execute events was also evidenced by his work with the Lions Club. In the country we had space for Dad to build tall outdoor bonfires. Capture the Flag after dark lured groups of teenagers into crisscrossing acres of trees, fields, and water under moonlight, with s’mores and roasted hot dogs as our reward. Because of him, this city girl had a lot of fun, and still has a country heart.

It seemed everywhere we went in town, Dad was greeted by someone he knew. I can almost hear numerous voices saying, “Hello, Carl!”  Those run-ins were always interesting. I’m grateful I learned to meet people and how to be friendly. As a child, I thought he was famous.

Goodbye, Dad. Hello.

Hello to grace. God is bigger than dads. He is our shelter, our longing, and our rescue from the ravages of hate and selfishness. He sent his Son Jesus to die in our place, sparing us the deadly wages we earn through disobedience. His grace is not to be treated with disrespect, however. When we pursue selfish desires instead of him, we pay heavy consequences. Eternity is not to be mocked, and neither is the justice of this overwhelmingly enormous God who holds our fates in his hands. Sometimes we get that, and sometimes we miss it.

Like my dad, we are all mixtures of honesty and deceit, kindness and severity, faith and doubt. We do not have the power to love without fault, and that’s okay because it is not in the “doing” that we experience grace. In a rare quiet moment hours before his death, I held my dad’s hand and told him this truth. “The only thing you ever had to be for me to love you, was my dad. The only thing you ever had to do for God to love you unconditionally, was exist.”

I read Micah 7:18-20 while waiting those final hours. “You (God) will not stay angry with your people forever, because you delight in showing unfailing love. Once again you will have compassion on us. You will trample our sins under your feet and throw them into the depths of the ocean!” That promise is for my dad, me, and anyone who responds to God in repentance. Grace has a name, and it is Jesus.

Goodbye Dad.

And by God’s grace, one day,  Hello.

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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.

Squirrel! How to Distract Yourself from Negative Triggers

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

n2ngr80My friend has a little dog named Layla, a Dachshund and Chihuahua mix. Layla considers herself a princess (or so my friend informs me), and wears dresses. I’ve threatened to put a pea under the mutt’s mattress to test her royal status, but Layla’s diva-like behavior may be proof enough. 

She will spin around on her hind legs like a circus dog to show me her newest outfit. I have to admit, it’s a cute show. When it is time for me to leave and I reach for my coat, the prancing princess mopes. Her mood shift is immediate. She is distracted from her joy by loss. Aren’t we all? 

The same can be true in reverse; we have the power to change a negative focus to the positive. Unpleasant memories may be associated with events, places, dates, and all kinds of things. It’s tough to shake old repetitive thoughts, so how about we not try? What may help more is attaching new, happier experiences to those events, places, and dates.

OK, what do I mean?

By Christmas weekend 2014, typical holiday depression was knocking on my door. Instead of inviting it in by focusing on loss, I threw a spontaneous New Year’s Day party. Not only did my mood lift that week of preparation, but now I have a new, fun-filled holiday memory. I’m excited about next year’s opportunity to do it again.

Valentine’s Day is coming. This can be a time of sadness for rejected lovers, widows and widowers, and romantics filled with regret. You can create a new memory on this day. 

One woman began making trips to New York City with friends after her husband, her travel companion, died. Perhaps Valentine’s Day could be the day you deliver cards and chocolates to a local nursing home. If a smell or sound is upsetting, try to create a new experience around it. photo-24884214-just-squirrelling-around-3

Layla is a PTSD service dog. When she is on the job she stays focused. Off the job, like the characters in the Pixar movie, UP, she can be distracted easily. “Squirrel!”

You can distract yourself too. Give it a try. Make a game of it. Grab the challenge. See what you can create to change difficult reminders into triggers of joy.

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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.

*dog cartoon by julos at rgbstock.com

*squirrel picture from qualitystockphotos.com

 

Honor Your Mother- No Matter What?

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

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Happy Mother’s Day

This mother-daughter painting drew my attention when I was about fourteen years old. At the time I could not have articulated why I bought it and hung it in a prominent place in my bedroom. It traveled with me from home to home for thirty-five years, always finding a spot on a wall.

In hindsight the need I was trying to meet is clear. Due to interference I had only eleven years with my mother  in a healthy mother-daughter relationship.

She died twelve years ago this week. Some of us lost our mothers long ago. Our memories are the gateway to retaining or even gaining meaningful relationships with our moms.

So what if those remembrances are dark or incomplete? What if as the only child, or the only one able to sift through history, the “facts” go left unchecked? Perhaps ultimately it doesn’t matter in the sense we are our own persons; the past does not decide our future.

It’s important to recognize pain brought on by our parents’ mistakes. Validating disappointments is crucial to mental health. Yet today I choose to think on the good of my mother. Her homemade Christmas pajamas, strung popcorn, the child’s house she built for her daughter- all as much pieces of the real past as anything sadder that may have occurred.

Whether we never met our mothers, had them only a short time, or even if yours will be at your table this Sunday, our feelings toward them will be shaped by our focus. This can be a celebratory Mothers’ Day if we choose it to be.

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NOTE: I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I speak only from personal experiences 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.