Tag Archives: Mental health professional

How to Know When It’s Time for Professional Help: Part 2, Second Clues

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

2di5mkkA young college student who has Bipolar Disorder, mentioned he needs his friends to ask him how he is doing, and to make sure he takes his medications each day.

Why? He was earning straight A’s in a major in science and a minor in a foreign language. He made it to our meetings on time each morning. He is capable of organizing and remembering his treatment regime. 

Yet this young man had tried to kill himself multiple times. Just before we met, he had been hospitalized for another suicide attempt. His friends can play an important role by helping him follow doctor’s orders.  

How are we to know when professional mental healthcare is in our best interests? There are clues. Keep in mind, not every person will show the same symptoms or intensity of symptoms. The clues discussed in this series are meant as guides, not diagnostic tools.  

An article on VeryWell.com¹ claims one reason people do not seek or stick to professional treatment is denial of the problem.* Denial can look like brushing it off, and criticizing oneself (or a loved one) for having unwanted feelings and symptoms.

Only half of those who need treatment seek or find it; while an overwhelming majority of those who receive professional treatment go on to live more satisfying lives. 

Yes, they “go on to live”. 

Second Clues – Suicidal Thinking

Suicidal thinking is a valid reason to talk to professionals.  When thoughts and inclinations have turned to suicide, or suicide attempts, keeping these a secret is dangerous. Every suicide starts with a thought. Not every suicide attempt is noticeable if the one suffering does not tell anyone about it.

If we have suicidal thoughts – or if we are afraid we might die by suicide – there may have been some earlier symptoms such as described in Part 1.  Perhaps life has changed from participatory to hiding. Our usual energy level has sunk extremely low. We wonder if we are a burden to our families, friends, and the world.  Wouldn’t everyone be better without us?

We think about death. Reasoning goes something like this: Sure, some people love me, but they will get over it soon if I die;  My child deserves a better parent;  If I’m out of the way, my spouse can marry someone else and be happy;  I’m replaceable at work and in the world.  

Thoughts circle around: I want to disappear;  Nothing will ever change;  The future is bleak;  Nothing is worth this pain;  No one can forgive or love me; There are no options.

Maybe we have sent messages, clues to people around us that we need help, or that we plan to die soon. Statements similar to, “You won’t have to worry about me anymore”; “When I die everyone will know it”; “I don’t want to be here anymore,” or any other form of communication. Writing, social media, art, songs, school reports… all are ways we may have tried to let others know. 

When suicidal thoughts cross our minds and especially if they linger, it is time to seek professional help. If we are formulating plans, or when those thoughts turn to intent, it is time to call 911 or go to the nearest Emergency Room!

We are ultimately responsible for saving our own lives. One of the best ways to do that is to speak up clearly. No hinting.

Tell someone outright if you are considering suicide, and get professional involvement. Ask God to walk with you through this, and He will. There is help, there is hope, and there is life on the other side of this moment. 

Today’s Helpful Word

“Blessed are those who find wisdom…  She is a tree of life to those who take hold of her;  those who hold her fast will be blessed.” – King Solomon

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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 is yours.

¹ Torrey, Trisha.  7 Reasons Patients Don’t Comply with Treatment Recommendations.  VeryWell.com. Reasons for Patient Noncompliance and Non-adherence updated March 06, 2016. Retrieved on January 8, 2017 from https://www.verywell.com/adhering-to-treatment-recommendations-2614978

Full Circle: A Week of Miracles Part Two

Compassionate Love Blog: Displaying compassion for those who struggle with mental illness   (c)2016  Nancy Virden, Always the Fight Ministry

Law and justice concept gavel

A week ago today I was in a courthouse watching my marriage of 35 years come to a final close.

Our separation began in September of 2013 following 2 1/2 years of marriage counseling. In the nearly three years since, my husband filed for divorce, and settlement and support discussions and hearings ensued. Last Thursday ended all that with our signatures on a decree stating the division of assets. Now we wait for the final paperwork.

Today’s blog will state nothing negative about either my husband or the Pennsylvania court system. As in any dispute, there are two sides to the story.  Instead, I want to share with you miracles of provision and peace that culminated last week.

It probably does not need mentioning that this process has been an emotional one. There were times of great fear concerning my future. You see, I have multiple doctors and a therapist stating I have a disability due to Major Depression Recurrent and Anxiety Disorder. In their opinions I cannot hold a regular job. One went so far as to say this is permanent.  A quick look  through my work history testifies to this as well depending on one’s point of view.

I do not want to believe disability prevents me from working a steady job. It is an uncomfortable prognosis. However, I have watched these professionals closely for over five years and not once seen them backtrack or deceive. Their personal as well as professional lives are ones of integrity. Each of them have thirty-plus years of experience. I have to take them seriously.

Most of all perhaps, I know they care about me. None of them would twist the truth for a court hearing because that would hurt me! Almost beside the point is the fact they stand to lose their careers if they throw out willy-nilly professional opinions. My husband’s lawyer is an ex-therapist and knows each of these people personally. He told me he would not dispute the disability factor because he knows they do not lie!

Long before anyone used the term “disability”,  I approached Always the Fight Ministries (begun in 2012, officially named last February) with caution. Over the years there have been times I could barely function. These episodes also prove my need to take it slow. The amount of promoting one needs to invest for entrepreneurial success has suffered because of these limitations. Attempts at seeking regular help have not borne much fruit although all along the way God has provided people on occasion when needed.  Usually I feel overwhelmed and unproductive.

Yet here I am. Despite all the above, speaking and writing is bringing in more earnings. A new radio show begins in August. Nervousness comes and goes because what if I cannot manage all this? What if a crash and major depression result again? What if I am disabled?  That is why moments like last Thursday are so poignant.

Entering the courthouse as a self-representative, I knew Who was my lawyer.¹   With face turned down so as not to appear mocking, low-key smiles broke out periodically at the visual of mere mortals, including myself, trying to negotiate justice. I knew Who gave each of us our mouths to speak.²  Any authority practiced in that room was from Him.³ As such, I had to smile. It was actually fun to watch Him at work, and all the more when I kept silent. (see qualification below)

Finally, I saw the fruitlessness of this particular discussion and asked for 30 seconds to prepare an answer. Bowing my head, I asked my Heavenly Father who has never once let me down, what to say. As I gave my offer, I sensed a shift in attitude in the room. If I am correct about that, it may have been because there was no gouging or attempt at revenge. I asked for what I believe God told me was right. It is not even enough to pay my bills.

Disabled. Not capable of regular work. No stable income. Not enough money to live. Sound bleak?

I know who holds my future! As I see it, God has a plan that is fun to watch unfold. Parts of it are revealed already. Instead of the negative what-ifs, I am asking new questions. Certain God led me to ask for the amount I did, I am equally positive there is a reason. What if I can? What if I have no more crashes that take me out of the game? What if I am no longer disabled? Most importantly, what if I cannot and God accomplishes everything through me anyway?

What is the miracle referred to in today’s title? Peace. Whether things seem to go poorly or splendidly, I KNOW there is a purpose.

I am not afraid.

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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 is yours.

– picture from Kozzi.com

Qualification on noted comment – This is not a theological statement intended as a right or wrong way of defending oneself in court. No offense or judgment is intended toward any readers who have been through the court system, work in the legal field, or advise others to use the court system. This was my experience alone. It was a moment of clarity for me personally as I learned once again to let go and let God. I had already stated my case. It is important for justice to take place that people have a voice.

¹ From  Jeremiah 51: 36. “…I [God] will be your lawyer…”

² From Exodus 4:11. “Who makes a person’s mouth? Who decides whether people speak or do not speak…? Is it not I, the LORD?”

³ From Romans 13:1  “…all authority comes from God, and those in positions of authority have been placed there by God.”

 

 

I’m Depressed and Can’t Get Out of Bed. What Am I to Do?

CompassionateLove Blog: Displaying Compassion for Those Who Struggle with Mental Illness   (c)2016 Nancy Virden

photo-25664611-1-29-14-travel-and-vacation-icons-4-06Your covers wrap around your body as tight as you had the energy to make them. Except for a small space between your nose and air, you are separate and safe from the rest of the world. 

If only intrusive thoughts and percolating memories would go away; they do not. Numbness, agony, emptiness, and desperation are familiar terms, yet you do not actually know how you feel. Your lungs strain against an inflexible wall of pain. Sleep comes and goes. The calls of nature pull you out from under your homemade cloaking device. When you return to it, there is no small debate as to whether the air hole is necessary.

This depression you are feeling cannot compare to the blues or a bad day. Everyone wants you out of bed – all are clamoring for you to be yourself again. “Come, be normal!” 

You are aware that what they say makes sense to them. It is not so easy for you, however.  You fall into an empty cavern deep inside your torso, and there guilt crucifies you for failing to be who others need.

Dear suffering soul, take a deep breath and read on. You are not a loser. 

  1. If you are in danger of harming yourself, go to your local emergency room or call 911. I’ve done this and so can you! Ask someone to stay with you until help comes.
  2. Allow yourself to be weak. Present limitations do not define you, your character, or your future. It’s ok to be unable to do today what you wish you could. It’s ok to need help.
  3. Set your own goals to challenge depression and isolation. Today may be the day you sit up on the edge of the bed for a few minutes. If you are afraid to leave your room, perhaps you could stand outside your door awhile. Do the noises of family life irritate you? You can choose to sit in the living room where people are.
  4. Praise yourself for every accomplishment. You read this post? You sat up? You ate? Good for you! I know each of the tiniest moves are hard and cost you. One foot hit the floor this morning? You are thinking about setting a goal? You are being brave, go ahead and appreciate your efforts.
  5. Reach out for support from people who “get it”.  Make plans to talk to a mental health specialist. allow a psychiatrist to determine if you would benefit from meds. Seek out a therapist. Support groups have helped many people. If one group or professional does not seem a good fit, feel free to find someone else.  This is all about you.  
  6. Pace yourself. I’ve made the mistake of beating myself up because I wasn’t becoming “normal” fast enough. Just do what you can at this moment. Tomorrow and next week you can reevaluate and set new goals.
  7. Involve God.  He is already involved, so cry out to him. In my worst moments my prayers were , “Help”, and “Please use this for good.” I knew Jesus was with me throughout the healing process.

You will get better! The road to recovery can be long and arduous, but it leads out of the forest of fear, helplessness, stabbing pain, and loss of hope. The weight holding you to your bed now is temporary. You WILL rise.

Practical strategies: How to Gain and Maintain a Mindset of Hope

mjyze9qToday’s Helpful Word

Psalm 34:18

“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”
**********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 in the U. S. the  National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Hope and help can be yours.

*picture  a from qualitystockphotos.com

*picture b from rgbstock.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lack of Knowledge is Killing Our Teens, Part 8 (Obsessing Over Death)

Compassionate Love: Displaying Compassion for Those Who Struggle with Mental Illness   (c)2016 Nancy Virden

photo-24718877-handsome-teenage-boy-holding-books.He’s frequently talking about death. She’s writing poetry about death. His artwork depicts death. She frequents a social media site about death. Are these young people obsessing? Are they planning to kill themselves?

While we tend to want answers, in my opinion, we want them handed to us easily. Most of us do not have the time, energy, or interest to invest in seeking out knowledge that contradicts familiar stereotypes or stigmas with which we are already comfortable.  If a question can be satisfied by clear evidence, generally we are content to leave it there. In other words, we believe what we can see.

♦Our Comfort Zone =                      ♦Our Discomfort Zone =

•simple    •explainable                   •complicated   unfamiliar or confusing  

•measurable   •easy “facts”           •no clear parameters  •threatens to undo easy “facts”

Staying in the comfort zone promotes stigma and ignorance and harms people who are hurting. Those easy facts we cling to are often false in the arena of mental health. People die because of the unknown and misunderstood. Moving to the discomfort zone requires time, emotional energy, and sometimes money. It’s worth it though, because we are empowered by knowledge.

Tools we have to help young people who are struggling include getting them to professional mental healthcare, learning to recognize when there is a problem and how to respond to it, and communication. Even then we cannot surmise to know what another person is thinking or feeling. A preoccupation or obsession with death is one of the warning signs for suicide.

Why might this be? Suicide itself tends to be an impulsive act. What has occurred beforehand is the questioning, “should I or should I not?” While struggling with the ‘why not’ and obsessing about death may be comforting. If not interrupted, thoughts become beliefs and beliefs become behavior. It makes sense that preoccupation with death can lead to suicide.photo-24746692-sitting-woman-with-a-book

One young woman I met drew picture after picture of herself as she might look after her suicide. Another made a speech in class about death, having researched physical and philosophical details. Someone else wrote death-focused poetry. What does it mean to observe this kind of behavior?

Why wait to find out?  A professional diagnostician is available to help with information we do not likely have. Reach out and ask  for the answers you need. Talk to the teenager you suspect is preoccupied with death.

The young woman who drew the pictures is alive and thriving after finally facing an eating disorder that nearly killed her. The young person who gave the speech attempted suicide. I’ve lost touch with the poet but know she received treatment.

Making final arrangements goes beyond obsession over death. If a young person has begun to put their affairs in order, it’s possible they have decided to attempt suicide. Signs we may observe include:

  • Giving away prized or favorite possessions
  • Saying good-bye to family and friends
  • Making funeral arrangements

Common sense tells us if a teenager is preoccupied with or obsessed over death, this is not normal and healthy. Writing it off as “just a mood” or a manipulation is dangerous. While we may think we know, we do not actually know what a person needs in the moment.

So take warning signs seriously. This series offers good information; this website has a list of references. You don’t have to become an expert in depression or suicide, but you can know what to look out for and how to respond.

The last of this series will deal with myths.  Is suicide a selfish way out?  Will talking about suicide put the idea into someone’s head?

It’s important.

Stay tuned.

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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.

  

How Could My Loved One Consider Suicide? They Have Everything to Live For.

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

You’ve read the news stories –  “She seemed happy…”  “He had a scholarship…”  “It doesn’t make sense that she would try to kill herself.”  Sometimes we want simple answers to complicated issues because we wish to understand. There are no explanations for why a particular individual considers suicide. There are however, common reasons.

One who turns to suicide sees no other option

Suicide is not a normal response to life’s strong emotions. The suicide attempt of one lonely daughter for instance, followed more reasonable efforts at communication that did not produce needed answers. Her father ignored her.  She was devastated, and from a place of desperation and great pain, she cried out for his love in the only way she knew how. Did she want to die? I do not know. His response was to admonish her for being childish, and there were more suicide attempts.

In my case, I lost sight of the fact anyone cared. Major depression and false core beliefs convinced me that no one did. If persons assume my suicide attempt was about seeking attention, they would be wrong.  I did not believe attention or help was possible. Suicide was the only solution I could grasp.

One who turns to suicide may have a recurring challenge with no satisfactory solution

photo-24791470-drunk-old-manAn alcoholic has tried everything to recover his health, career, and family. He has watched as promising solutions come and go. He now believes failure is imminent and inevitable. He figures people are better off if he is dead. 

Addiction, marriage problems, financial challenges – each is only one of myriad examples of recurring troubles that may have been addressed repeatedly without lasting success. Eventually, doubts arise over whether one’s needs will ever be met. 

Defeatism and hopelessness are like siblings fighting over a piece of cake. They behave similarly, and the results are the same – the piece of cake is destroyed.  A person lost in defeatism may lose hope, and at some point become suicidal.  When all other efforts have failed, suicide may falsely appear as the only way out.

Most often, suicide is impulsive – a perceived end to pain.

Rarely does a suicide victim plot and plan without dropping hints of some kind. So if you are wondering how a person who seems to have everything could take his or her life, it is because he or she did not have everything. Psychologically or cognitively, they did not have a definable solution to whatever caused them pain.

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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 can be yours.

 *picture from qualitystockphotos.com

 

What Can I Do for My Depressed Friend?

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

Depression. It’s talked about more often these days, and rightfully so. Either the number of people who struggle with it has risen or we are opening up to admitting it. Two-thirds of the estimated 35,000 reported suicides each year are related to depression. Clearly, a decrease in untreated depression will lower suicide rates.

Suicide is preventable. Major (clinical, sometimes called unipolar)) depression is a chronic disease, and as such has remissions and recurrences at variable levels. Untreated depression tends to increase in intensity and frequency as a person ages. That said, treated depression has a success rate of about 80%  Because most suicides are depression-related, that’s a lot of people who are walking around alive despite having struggled with great emotional pain.

You are not helpless when it comes to supporting your depressed friend through this disease. There are countless ways to just “be there,” and I discuss these in many of my blogs. Here are three basic actions you can take to help your depressed friend.

1) Encourage your friend to get professional help. The high recovery rate includes medication, talk therapy, and support group treatments. Many people like myself utilize a combination or all three. Still, nearly one half of those who struggle with depression do not receive appropriate help. Your support in locating proficient services is priceless. 

2) Remind your friend to take prescribed medications. We’ve heard of unsuccessful recoveries, some of which are due to noncompliance. That simply means the one with depression has stopped taking medication. Fear of addiction, unpleasant side effects, and cost are three of the reasons I have heard.

I met a young man who was feeling alone and had just attempted suicide. He said he wished someone would show him care without judgement by asking each day if he remembered to take his medication. Some people like this man discontinue medication too soon because of a false sense of wellness due to feeling better.

3) Encourage your friend to engage in a support group. I used to think the term “support group” sounded ominous and useless, that strangers sat around a table and poured out self-pity to each other for an hour or two. I was so wrong!

Support groups are by and large made up of people who care, understand, and meet together because finding non-judgmental support outside the group room is rare. Your friend will benefit greatly from connecting with others who “get it” and who can offer relevant wisdom. People in support groups are nearly 90% more compliant with treatment and, of course, experience more mental health as a result.

Accepting your friend and the disease of depression without assuming to have the answers is key to your relationship and effective helping. Your friend does not have to feel all alone and uncared for even though depression tells us otherwise sometimes.  With compassionate love, you and your friend can form a successful team,  beat depression back,  and curb tragic statistics.

On more ideas for helping, see the depression and bipolar alliance article “Help Others” at http://www.dbsalliance.org/site/PageServer?pagename=help_landing

Resources include:

http://www.dbsalliance.org

http://www.nimh.nih.gov

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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.

*pictures from rgbstock.com

Four Stigmatized Words that Freak People Out: Word 4

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

photo-24736910-close-up-of-tables-spilling-out-of-a-bottle_Fear of this word drives people to silence (a trend with these words that freak people out!).

People who do not want to discuss this word might be the belligerent types. “I don’t need a _________! I’m not going to get sucked into that baloney.”

Perhaps the one who will not consider this word is misinformed. “_________ just shove drugs at you.”

Or maybe the word is a joke.  “I’m not going to have my head shrunk.”

Psychiatrist. An unfortunate stigma related to the word psychiatrist, is a belief that when it is ‘only’ our thinking or emotions which trouble us, there is no need for a medical diagnosis or treatment. Even if we are open to psychiatric medications, we may not see the need for a specialist.  “I’ll just go to my General Practitioner. He/she knows me. They can prescribe something.”

Most GPs these days will send a patient with a skin condition to a dermatologist. If someone walks into an internist’s office with signs of heart issues, that internist will refer the case to a cardiologist. Why then, do we freak out over the word psychiatrist? They are brain science specialists.

One broad misunderstanding is that a psychiatrist is a therapist.  Psychiatrists are medical doctors who are generally untrained or unpracticed in therapy techniques. Does it seem that “all” they do is “shove” medications at patients? Perhaps that negative viewpoint comes from the false premise that psychiatrists are supposed to cover the entire spectrum of mental health care.

Visits to a psychiatrist are commonly 15-30 minutes long. All that occurs in that time is a brief discussion of how the patient is feeling followed by a suggested treatment plan. My psychiatrist checks if my medications and dosages are working, reminds me to talk to my therapist, and writes out prescriptions. 

Of course she does. She’s a Medical Doctor, an  M.D., a specialist in the medicinal treatment of mental illness. 

She’s not scary at all.

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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 can be yours.

*picture from qualitystockphotos

 

Where is Good Counsel to be Found? Story 6

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

nr7rjpiI titled this Story 6 because it is doubtless not the last. There will be more to say on this topic in the future, however I expect it to be positive. Why? Because great mental health care is available and can be found.

We are all “abnormal” in the sense no one is like another; our needs are unique. In the earlier parts of this series my point is we can avoid pitfalls in searching for professional mental health care that is right for us.

For example, I may struggle with vulnerability if a therapist is very disorganized. It affects my trust level. How about you? What characteristics in a therapist might have detrimental or positive influences on your healing?

It’s an understatement to say I was not in my strongest emotional condition as I looked for help. I had waited until desperation set in before reaching out. While it is ideal to hire a therapist when healthy, it is not common. Professionals know this about clients, and are responsible to act accordingly. If one does not, keep moving.

This is where a friend or family member can get involved and be effective. Tell them what kind of person you hope to find. Your support can make calls, search out the information referred to in this series, and lead you to your first meeting.

One of my initial criteria was that I wanted to see this person twice a week. Unfortunately I had to settle for once per week which was difficult for me at the time. Compromises are ok if you can live with them.

Gentleness is most important to me. Yell, and I will likely not trust you again.  Affirmations like, “Proud of you” and “You’ve come a long way” stir my confidence. What do you need?

My son asked me recently, “Don’t you get tired of working on yourself?”

That made me laugh and still does. Fact is, I do grow tired of working on myself, extremely tired,  and want to give up often. However, these people are teaching me how to live in the present. I’m learning why I want to stay alive and how to experience that abundant life Jesus talked about.

The success of a therapist is a client who leaves their care able to carry on in a healthy manner. Maybe you will not need so many years to reach this goal, or perhaps you will need more time. Remember, all that is required for forward movement is one step at a time. Slow progress is progress.

Maybe you or someone in your life believes psychology and therapy are for weak losers. Here is the good news I promised in the last of this series. Since completely giving up on life…

  • I have had two books published with a third going to the publisher this week.
  • I am traveling and sharing my story of recovery with young adults who have largely been marginalized by society.
  • Opportunity to teach at church and in seminars has come my way seven times so far.
  • There is a small group of women who consider me a support and friend.
  • I’m more honest, working on being both honest and gentle simultaneously, and learning how to be a true friend.
  • I’ve forgiven persons who caused me harm, and am creating distance between me and those who would continue to do so.
  • I’m slowly learning I count.

Is this weakness? Your opinion is up to you. I see it as the fight of my life, and that is saying a lot. The bravest thing I have ever done is stay alive when I wanted to be dead.

I do this for God, for my sons, and hope one day to do this for me. That is why I still get help, and am so grateful to have found it even though it took so long.

You don’t have to have my experiences. Pay attention to the guidance in this series. It will lead you to good counsel that fits you just right.

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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.

 

Where is Good Counsel to be Found? Story 5

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

photo-24800380-a-shocked-woman

Following a move to Philadelphia from Cleveland, I grew deeply depressed. In November of  2010, someone inadvertently recommended a nearby mental health organization where I found my current doctor. This is also the place that introduced me to Kelly.*

Kelly did not want to work with me, and rolled her eyes when she heard what I had to say. As I was walking out of her office, she said “Whew!” as if no one could hear her.  It became clear that the help I wanted does not exist, and so I settled. She told me to leave town and go visit someone nurturing. It did not occur to me she wanted me out of her hair.

During the month of December I was home maybe six days. In January she put me in an IOP (Intensive Outpatient Program) and told me insurance would not simultaneously pay for visits with her. 

Days later, I attempted suicide. Months went by during which I was hospitalized and completed the IOP.  Finally, I was back in Kelly’s office.  

This time she wanted to talk about where to buy groceries in the area. I checked the clock. Out of my allotted (and paid for) 45 minutes,  15 she talked incessantly about shopping, 10 she used to run my credit card, and 5 she used to search for my file. Unable to find it, she grabbed a small piece of scrap paper and said, “This will do.”

I got it! In IOP I’d learned it is okay to  find ways to get my needs met, and Kelly was definitely not one of those ways. Once again, I gave up on therapists and assumed I’d go it alone.  

An unexpected email from the IOP doctor asking a financial question, changed all that. He inquired how I was doing.  It was that very morning I’d told Kelly I wasn’t coming back (she probably danced a jig). The doctor said he would find a therapist for me.

He wanted to know if I had any criteria for a therapist?  YES! I asked for someone affirming, a woman, who listens before speaking and is careful with words. You see, I translate statements in a literal fashion and miss most hints and nuances. It took about three weeks, and then I finally met Lynne.*

Lynne is kind, patient, adjusts to my personality, readily says what I need to hear, listens, and in her office I slowly learned to feel safe sharing secrets. She doesn’t lie to me, accuse, insult, gossip, or try to get rid of me like some previous caretakers I’ve told you about in this series.

Just the opposite, she has agreed to see me as many times as I feel I need. Lynne knows how to do her job in a professional manner.  She validates how I feel, offers a different perspective,  and did I mention listens? She hears me.

This is what I hope you will take from this series:

  1. Know you deserve to find appropriate help.
  2. Ask the hard questions.
  3. Trust your instincts.
  4. Find the kind of professional who will walk you through change to a better life.

Pay attention to the processes I recommend for finding good counsel. You do not need to repeat my experiences. Remember, anyone who wishes to can hang out a shingle and call themselves “counselor”.  Look for evidence they have earned that title.

There is ONE MORE part to this series. Stay tuned for the good news!

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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.

– picture from qualitystockphotos.com

*names are changed

 

Where is Good Counsel to be Found? Story 4

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

photo-24743417-two-people-shaking-handsIf you are following this series, you may be thinking you could never handle what happened to me. However, everything happens for a reason.

It was exasperating at the time, yes. Now I have opportunity to show countless people how to avoid pitfalls while searching for professional help.

My pastor in 2005 was kind and extremely vigilant over my well-being.  He was young, and had limited experience with anyone who was suicidal. He would see me, but insisted I visit  a professional therapist as well.

He knew when to say “I cannot help,” and was humble enough to admit it. Contrary to what seems a popular opinion, therapy is not about having a person tell you what to do, or offer advice from the Bible. It is a patient occupation, or should be, and guides the client toward discovering answers for themselves. Specifically trained professionals are generally better-equipped to do this.  

Obviously, I’ve not met every therapist in the world. Nevertheless, the self-called Bible-based counselor I found this time remains the worst I’ve met in my world. “Bible-based” does not automatically mean wise. Proud and controlling people call themselves whatever they like.

At the beginning of our first session, immediately Connie* said I make all my decisions based on emotions, and she would fix that. She told me I am not attractive (hence my marriage troubles). Once I offered her a carefully written letter in hopes of discussing it. She pitched it onto her desk without looking at it, and turned back to face me. When I said I wanted her to read it, she indicated it was unimportant.

Once again, as previously described in these stories, I ignored my instincts. Ok, I thought. Give it time. 

Connie illegally gossiped. Through her (if she told the truth) I found out someone I know had an affair. On two occasions she pointed out specific clients I had seen in the waiting room, and complained about their issues.  

She tried to follow up with,  “So, what’s your problem today?”

Did this woman honestly expect me to open up to her after that?  “It’s the same stuff. Nothing new,” I said week after week. I was only there to meet my pastor’s requirement.  As ill as I was, stupidity was not a problem.

When he announced he was moving away, I did share that painful disappointment with Connie. She knew what date he would be saying goodbye. The week he left, Connie said she didn’t need to see me for another three weeks because in her opinion,  I was all better. She bragged, “Thanks to the work I’ve been doing with you.”

It was ridiculous. Free from any agreement, I canceled all future appointments and never looked back.

By the end of 2005, 18 months after reaching out (story 1), there had been little mental health care. I was alone again in my fight against despair. Medication continued, and after my experience with Connie, my psychiatrist agreed to see me more than 1/2 hour every few weeks. She was a gift.

Kind and talented mental health care providers who could be a great fit for you are out there. There are many more good ones than bad. Most are trying to the right thing by their clients. Here are some crucial points to consider before you trust someone with your fragile emotions. 

  • Does she have a good reputation? 
  • Is his chosen therapeutic approach highly rated?
  • Is she licensed? 
  • What experience does he have?  
  • Is she a specialist in your area of diagnosis or need? 

Ask questions pertinent to you.  Do you work better with people who tend to offer advice or who mostly listen?  Are you tolerant of disorganized offices? Are you one who needs lots of verbal encouragement, or is once in a while enough to keep you energized for weeks? Is the therapist prejudiced against race, gender, sexuality, age, religion, or size? It’s ok to ask this ahead of time. (“Are you able to work without judgement with…”)  Ask yourself too, if you prefer to work with a particular gender, age, etc.

Five years later, I desperately reached out once again for help. This time, results were very different.

There is MORE to this story. Stay tuned.

********

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.

– picture from qualitystockphotos

*Names are changed