Tag Archives: prayer

Will Has No Power

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

Today’s guest post is by Tom Whitesel, pastor and host of the 24Today podcast. You can read and listen to more of his work at 24Today.org.

was at a Convenience Store, standing in line, waiting to pay for gas. As a part of the “convenience experience”, a Hershey candy bar (with almonds) was beautifully displayed and easily within my reach.

I find these bars amazing. For starters, it is amazing when the maker of the candy bar actually takes the time to print their name on the bar. That’s amazing! This very fact alone, says that a Hershey’s bar deserves some consideration. And I have considered plenty of them over the years.


As I studied this work of art, I said to myself, “I haven’t had one of those for a long, long time. You know what would taste good right about now? A Hershey candy bar with almonds!”


I have a wonderful friend inside of me. His name is “Will”.

Will reminded me that if I make the decision to fully consider a Hershey candy bar (with almonds)... I also will add 210 calories and 26g’s of carbs to my body.

Will is smart that way.


Will can also be strategic.

Will convinced me to re-focus my eyes on the Beef Jerky (also conveniently placed on the counter). I’m not a fan of Beef Jerky, so I could look at that stuff all day long and not be tempted.


Before I new it, I had paid for my gasoline and was back in my car. And the Hershey bar (with almonds)remained conveniently in the store.

Will had won!


Last week was a rough week. For a reason unknown to me, my old foe (DEPRESSION) came calling.

For the first four days, I did what I do by nature. I relied on Will to get me out of it.

Will wasn’t strong enough on Monday or on Tuesday. Will lost on Wednesday and Thursday also.

On Friday morning, God taught me three truths about Will:

  1. Will can be smart.
  2. Will can be strategic.
  3. Will isn’t very strong.

So [still on Friday morning] I desperately began to plead to God for help. I said, “Father, I don’t have it in me to be able to defeat DEPRESSION today. I have tried every day this week. but I have lost each time. I am COMPLETELY helpless. I surrender this battle to You. I’m asking You to defeat DEPRESSION today.”

I followed that prayer with continuing my YouVersion Bible App daily reading. Miraculously, in about 10 minutes, the depression fog began to lift.

Next, I strategically asked God to replace DEPRESSION with His fruit (Galatians 5:22-25):

  • Love
  • Joy
  • Peace
  • Patience
  • Kindness
  • Goodness
  • Faithfullness
  • Gentleness
  • Self Control

Will was back at work, doing some strategic thinking.

But the POWER came from Jesus.


Now, four days later, I continue to be out of the fog of depression. And I am still pleading every day with Jesus. “Just get me through this 24 hour period,” I say.

And He has. One day at a time!


I still like Will and need his help. But Jesus is where strength comes from.


You also have things in your life which Will can’t get you through.

Is it fear? Is it doubt? Is it loneliness?

If you are like me, you have more than one.


Summarizing…

  • Will can’t give you power.
  • Surrender the battle to Jesus.
  • Until you get to the level in which you actually plead to Jesus for help, you might not really want it bad enough. You might be asking Jesus to help Will. But, it has to be the OTHER WAY AROUND. It’s Jesus first. Then Will can help Jesus.
  • Will has no power.
  • Jesus has the power

***** COMMENTS ALWAYS WELCOME

From Nancy:  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.

Maundy Thursday: Finding Comfort Despite Agony of Spirit

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

Agony of spirit. It behaves like expanding foam, filling our bodies to the point of explosion, pressing against frantic hearts, making nearly useless our gasps for air, and squeezing unseen walls within our brains until there is no longer space for more pain. It has to come out.

Looking for Relief

Some of us lay in bed unable to act, staring at nothing, questioning our will to live.  Lashing out against ourselves or others may release some of the pressure. How much energy we have to do so  varies because after fighting to survive for hours, days, months, or years, we are tired. 

Some of us try to talk it out. Others who have no one to listen, dig deeper into the cavernous despair of unchallenged negative thoughts.  There is prayer, which much of the time does little to immediately relieve intense anguish, yet provides that unfailing rope by which God holds us near to himself. 

That may be the only comfort we know for a while. 

Jesus prayed in his agony

Jesus, on the night before his crucifixion, had yet to be arrested or betrayed. He knew what was coming though. For hours overnight, he wept and moaned in such agony of spirit that his sweat was like blood.

There is much debate over whether he feared the cross, or if he was heartbroken over the momentary separation from God he was about to endure. Was he sad for his mother, family, or friends?  Was this the last temptation by Satan – to run from the mission Jesus had left heaven to complete? 

He begged God, “If this cup could pass…” Which cup? Since I do not believe emotions are ungodly, it is not confusing to me that our sinless Savior agonized over all the above and more.  Powerful claw-like emotions grasped for his mind and permeated his body. For Jesus, they poured out in tears and pleas to his Father for comfort.

Comfort, not escape

“Not my will, but yours.” Jesus surrendered once again to the only One who had ever been true to him, who loved him without measure, and who had always held his devotion. Heavy of heart, disappointed, and tormented,  Jesus clung through prayer to the unfailing rope of God’s love.

Agony of spirit does not leave us quickly. Trauma and later memories, injustice and abuse, great loss, suffering, and shaky wellbeing drop us to our knees. Nonetheless, we can rest, exhausted, in the embrace of God who hears us in our panic, depression, desperation, and mental torture. He never, ever abandons his children. 

Today’s Helpful Word

  **********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.

top pic from scottmluddell @rgbstock.com; Jesus pic from http://www.LumoProject.com

 

 

Eight Years of Christmas Changes

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

Eight Christmases ago was my family’s last traditional one. We didn’t know it then, but nothing would ever be the same.

It’s a big deal when Christmas rolls around and looks different from the year before.  This year I purged an old stockpile of holiday decorations, however that is not the kind of different I mean.  Eight Decembers with varying levels of drama, emotions, and hope remind me that on the day Jesus came to earth, the world forever changed.  

Christmas of 2009 – Major Move: My then-husband and I were saying goodbye to our city, church, friends, home, and adult sons who wished to remain in Cleveland. We moved to the Philadelphia area on New Year’s Day.  My prayer was, “God, I hurt.”

Christmas of 2010 – Major Depression: A major depressive episode caused obsessive thoughts and misinterpretation of reality. This led to a suicide attempt 20 days after Christmas. To say despair owned that holiday would be an understatement. My prayer was, “God, please take me now.”neqg3zy

Christmas of 2011 – An Unfolding Future:  Not fully recovered, my spirit could best be described as shaky and wary, which is more hopeful than despair. A publisher had accepted my first book and I was busy finishing the manuscript.  Our sons learned of the suicide attempt and both were proud of me for turning tragedy into something positive.  My prayer was, “God, can you still use me?”

Christmas 2012 – Family Drama: We drove a 24-hour round trip to Cleveland on Thanksgiving Day to intercede in a family dispute. Our sons came to Philadelphia to spend Christmas, a family first. My prayer was, “God, please protect my sons.”

Christmas 2013 – The Family is Broken: My husband and I were separated although still sharing an apartment.  I had also been to a treatment center to begin recovery from a 40-year eating disorder and food addiction. This Christmas was the first as a broken family, and I was trying to deal with all the stress without my old coping mechanisms. My prayer was, “God, help!”

Christmas 2014 – By Myself on Christmas Day: My oldest son planned to come to Philadelphia for Christmas. My youngest son had been out of touch for four months. I was living alone for the first time in my life.  The visit was cancelled at the last-minute and it was just me and God on Jesus’ birthday.  I finished upholstering a chair. My prayer was, “God, please remind me you are all I need.”

Christmas 2015 – My Family of Origin Dies: On December 20, my father died. His funeral was Christmas Eve. That is the day I said goodbye to my brother, knowing we will never see each other again. In 2003, soon after our mother passed away,  he inexplicably erased me from his life, and until our dad’s funeral I had never heard from him. He refused to speak with me that day too, and so I had two family members to grieve. My prayer was, “God, help me turn my eyes on you.”

Christmas 2016 – New Traditions: I’ve been back in Cleveland for over a year now. This time it will be just me and my sons. We will have a nice dinner with all the fixin’s, and then watch Christmas movies. I’ve been looking forward to this for a week, ever since I learned both would be in town.  My prayer is, “God, I thank you for turning sorrow into blessing, for loving me with such passion, and for never letting me go. My hope is in you.”ngmtxu6-copy

Perhaps this year brought to you horrendous loss, or frightening discovery. Maybe trust was damaged, or disappointment knocked you to your knees. There may be an empty chair that last year held a loved one, or one less present to wrap. Are you in a different place in your spirit than you were last year? Is there more distress or peace, depression or joy, hopelessness or purpose?

For me there is more joy, more hope, more peace this year than in a long time. The lessons of the last eight Christmases have taught me that God is sovereign, and his love never, ever, fails. 

One certainty is that next year will different yet, maybe much better. Jesus will stay the same, always prepared to steady our walk on shaky ground.

q5grfjgToday’s Helpful Word

Isaiah 9:6 NIV

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace

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.

*pictures from rgbstock.com

Make TAWG Your Spiritual Connection to Mental Health. Part 2

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

photo-25949488-printToday I finished editing the audio of my first internet radio show (I’m the host). It took three tries, and by that I mean my guest had to repeat her story three times. (Note to self: always start new projects with a friend).

I’ve been in training for this for the last five of some of the busiest weeks I’ve known to date. The pile of to-dos has been emotionally exhausting too, added in with a divorce and settlement. Needless to say, some of the details went unattended until the last-minute – hence, three tries.  It always pays to do the homework.

We can change only if knowledge of a need for change, instruction how to change, and some understanding of what to change to is available. My situation with the radio show is simplistic. We all know life is full of complexities.

Some of us have been lied to since childhood. We have believed those lies because we do not know they are untrue. We walk in fear – of being unlovable, worthless, and devalued by everyone important to us.

We may pause each day for Time Alone With God (TAWG), know in our heads it is true God loves us, yet deep inside see his love as pity and not as passion for his child. Our worry centers on whether we are spending time enough to satisfy him, or doing TAWG right. We walk around in the cold dark, unaware of perfectly warm light, until something or someone pries open our eyelids.

Once we see a need for change, we may be clueless how it can happen, or what our required participation level is. Is TAWG simply a matter of spending 5, 15, 30 minutes longer in prayer? Is it reading more verses or chapters in the Bible each day?

How does TAWG become personally meaningful?

When negative, false core beliefs such as “God’s love is only pity,” go unchallenged, how we interpret what we are reading is tainted. If we believe we are never good enough for example,  much of scripture nay come across as condemning. If the necessity of a deeper relationship with God escapes us, we won’t know what to do to begin to care about it.

We hear sermons, read blogs, and listen as Christian believers talk about TAWG. As long as we are not learning how to change our mindset, these messages will go unheeded. TAWG will remain a last resort and less effective as the ultimate change agent we need.

***** COMMENTS 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 are yours.

*pictures from qualitystockphotos.com

 

Make TAWG Your Spiritual Connection to Mental Health. Part 1

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

when i am old...Mental health is…

The joy of getting exactly what you wanted at Christmas?

Excitement over a new job?

Absence of stress?

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)*, only about 17% of adults in America are in a state of optimal mental health. Ah! The secret is out!

Oh wait, we already knew something was not quite right with the human race, did we not? Even Peanuts** characters tried to suggest what “happiness is…”.  Lucy thought she could just toss advice around and solve anyone’s psychiatric problems (for 5 cents nonetheless!)

My therapist (who is not a Peanuts character and charges more than 5 cents, by the way) mentioned recently that we are not taught as children how to think, nor how to control our thoughts. Usually these lessons come painfully through the school of hard knocks.

The CDC website goes on to describe mental health:

Mental health is a state of well-being in which the individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to contribute to the community.

Grasping well-being through faith is not something we are all that skilled at doing on our own. That is because faith is nothing if we do not have dependence on God. For those of us who believe God is sovereign, wants to interact with us, and is accessible to us, time alone with God (TAWG) is foundational to that healthy dependency.

Born-again Christians (those of us who trust our eternal salvation to Jesus Christ) everywhere, try to practice TAWG. We tend to grow kinder, more humble, and more forgiving, to have more backbone, and strength through trials if we spend quality and quantity time with God. It is said that if we miss one day of this discipline, God notices. When we miss two days, we notice it ourself. Miss three days of TAWG, and everyone around us notices!

A sense of well-being is more robust when are not lonely. It is more tangible when we feel grounded and safe. It makes sense then, that I and many others find solace in TAWG. It is also in these private moments that I am reminded to use the coping skills and thinking strategies that help me to manage my major depression.

TAWG is not only one-way prayer; it is a conversation. It is reading the Bible in search of knowing God, becoming knowledgable of his message to us, repenting and changing, learning to know God’s voice, and obeying what he says.

Moses spent 40 days on the mountain with God. When he came down, everyone knew who he had been with. His face was shining. Ask yourself, are you the type of person that people would notice a difference if you skipped TAWG for a few days? Would you notice?

********

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.

*http://www.cdc.gov/

** http://www.gocomics.com/collection/1626945?utm_source=blog&utm_medium=socialmarketing&utm_content=peanutshappinessis-collections

Full Circle: A Week of Miracles Part Three

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

IMG_20160419_130624People who are proud of our midwest state and cities, and who will strike up conversation with anyone; home of Rock ‘n Roll, the birthplace of aviation pioneers Orville and Wilbur Wright, John Glenn, and Neil Armstrong, and eight U.S. Presidents; cornfields; Lake Erie; mid-size “big” cities and small towns; die-hard sport fans and this year’s NBA Championship; and more cornfields – that’s Ohio in a buckeye nut shell.

Of course there is much more, and during the Republican National Convention (RNC) this past week, the world saw the finest city Ohio has to offer – Cleveland. Yes, I am biased. Cleveland is my home, where I raised my children, and where I fit in.

Having spent six years out of my element, I learned how sweet home really is. No one looks at me funny when I strike up a lively conversation with a stranger. I can say y’all and you’zns without anyone acting like I need a better education.  It’s OK to wear a lampshade to church (odd hat party), to offer a gift card I cannot use to an acquaintance without committing an offense,  and to borrow eggs from my neighbor. This is my culture. Home.

In years past, opportunities to volunteer in Ohio have included working with people of all ages, particularly children. For years I prayed for these people, for my city, and for how I could make a difference. My prayers did not stop while away. I left a Cleveland that was struggling to survive. In the economic downturn of 2008, Cleveland was hard hit with an unemployment rate upwards of 10%. When I came back, Cleveland was building, and had scored the RNC.

IMG_20160619_100507Many people I know, and plenty I do not know pray for Cleveland regularly. I am but one of tens of thousands who believe in a literal God, a Heavenly Father who hears and answers earnest prayer. In the weeks before the RNC, there were gatherings of like-minded believers who interceded in prayer for the safety of our people during the upcoming convention.

Thousands gathered at the Wolstein Center on Saturday July 16. Prayer groups gathered at key spots around the city to declare victory over violence on Sunday night. As one can see on videos and in news reports, people prayed with protesters, police officers, and bystanders. Countless others prayed at home and in churches.

The police were united, and well-trained and positioned. Our police chief prayed with an angry protester. Christian believers deescalated conflicts. It’s never a good idea to mix anger and alcohol, and bars that expected heavy crowds into the wee hours closed early. Clubs had slow business.  Accomodation for hundreds of offenders was prepared, but there were only 27 arrests.

Leaders of protest groups have said they could not get their people to come out.  The city was peaceful, outside troublemakers stayed away, and Cleveland was spared. Believe what you will, but as for me, I will continue to pray for my city.

This is full-circle and meaningful to me. I went away unhealthy and consumed with negative false beliefs about myself and the world. Cleveland was suffering and despairing with its people speaking of hopelessness. This summer, I am renewed as is my city.

Cleveland is not perfect. Racial tensions can be tough here. Forty years of busing seems to have had an adverse effect.  This is a largely segregated city with Cleveland more or less divided in half. Prayers going up for Cleveland are not only to prevent violence during the RNC, but to heal and unite our citizenry.  I believe in hope because I believe in prayer.

********

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

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.

********

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.”

 

 

A Perky Computer Wants to Manage Happiness

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

Recently, I  went on one of those websites where they promise to give you a ton of rate quotes for health insurance.  I was naïve enough to think I was just on a fact-finding quest, when in reality I was pinning a sign to my forehead that reads “I’ll buy anything if you call me repeatedly.”

One particular computer has a soft, motherly like voice. Comforting, you know? She (yes, I know it’s an inanimate object) tells me how much she cares about my health insurance needs, and that she wants to meet those needs. Initially, it felt as if I could curl right up in her lap and she would sing lullabies.

Something wasn’t right though;  I sensed a set-up like when you know your mom is about to lay a guilt-trip. “Of course I want you to have a good time” (you better be back by 11:00 – otherwise I’ll worry.) Sure enough,  there it was- the gentle request to  call her back if I want more information. Oh no. So, I must respond to this computer or her feelings will be hurt?

She’s been calling at least three times every week for over a month, pressing me to return her call. I know I can block her, however (mischievous giggle) this is becoming a little entertaining!

In hopes of ending the harassment, I called her back last week. Instead, that ten second call may have jump started a quest. A second, perkier computer answered, and introduced herself with,  “Hi! I’m Ashley! The manager of customer happiness!”

Could it be true?  This computer can manage happiness? I might become a customer  after all! Someone has to manage my happiness, right? The main symptom of major depression recurrent is that I rarely know happiness;  it is enough to occasionally be content..

Each morning upon waking, a question and a decision confront me.  Will this be the day this dread, this pull to stay in bed and avoid life, will  drag me into a worse depression?  This daily sense of worthlessness and hopelessness that can bring me to tears first thing many mornings- is this the day they take over and I begin the slippery slide to a more severe episode?

Or will I read the sign on my wall?

There is a sign near my bed purposely hanging where I can only miss it if determined to avoid looking at it. It asks me different questions. The first one is, “For what will you call on Jesus today?”

Reading the sign challenges me to address prayer. My initial answer is sometimes heavy with depression, especially if the battle has lately been fierce.  I might say to God, “I don’t want to get up. Everyone would be better off if I never did again.”

Then, “help me.”

One needs a powerful motive to ask for help when the brain is telling you nothing will make a difference. My motive is to honor God with my life and with how I face death. It is my number one goal and passion. This motive has kept me alive when death was an option. It has driven me relentlessly to therapy, to do the homework, and try when I didn’t care because of any other reason. It takes me to my knees in prayer.

Unfailingly, God answers with the strength to start the day. Each morning the decision awaits me. Will I allow depression to drag me under without a fight?

Or will I read the sign?

I like the idea of someone being a manager of my happiness. How easy it would be to have a person greet me each day with coffee and the decision already made, to stand by my side in the struggle and turn the thermostat up on the happiness dial as soon as it grows cold. No person can do that for me no matter how much I wish. Disaster has been the result each time I’ve tried to force someone into that role. Certainly no marketing computer can do it even if its generated voice does sound sincere!

Some days depression wins. It is a difficult disease. This is essential  for people who struggle with the illness of depression to understand. No one can rescue us; we are in charge of our recovery. To reach out for help, to call on Jesus, to take our medication, to work at changing our thoughts- these are our options. Equally, this is vital for supports to know. No amount of cheerleading will fix the situation, although your presence is of utmost importance.

As much as loved ones  care about and invest in me, recovery will always be my decision to make.

Will I read the sign?

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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.

  – Pictures from Kozzi.com

“I’ll Pray for You” Can Be a Weapon in the Hands of Control-Freaks

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

photo-24790069-two-upset-womenControl-freak. It’s a less offensive way of saying rude, obnoxious, power-hungry, micro-managing, nosy, selfish, obstinate, disrespectful, unmerciful, and thoughtless.  

We’ve all met them –  the man or woman who always has some judgment to make whether pleasant or not-so-pleasant. Even billowy praises are meant to hold you to their standards.

Each time you see them they comment about you, your work, your lifestyle, your home, your friends, your character, or your decisions. For example, one day “Oh, you look nice!” and the next “You wore that?” Little goes unnoticed.

It’s a constant dripping of approval and disapproval.

Unfortunately, control-freaks attend churches, assume leadership, and do much damage to the body of Christ. From attendance-takers to treasurers, I’ve seen control-freaks make life miserable for everyone else.

“I’ll pray for you” can be said in a tone of approval or disapproval. Picture hands on hips, head cocked sideways, a barely disguised condescension in the voice, “Oh, I’ll pray for you!

It’s as if the offer itself is an attempt at influencing one’s behavior. Sometimes “I’ll pray for you” is simply a dismissal because prayer is not on the agenda of the one promising it.

We are all complex and do and say hurtful things to each other. Usually though, we are not driven by a need to control those around us. Most of us know how to apologize and adjust. Control-freaks will not do that or only superficially. 

We do not all struggle with mental illness challenges, but I’d like to think that followers of Christ will not be carriers. Control-freaks can eat away at one’s self-confidence and sense of wellbeing. 

Compassionate love among those of us who pray, does not seek to control but peacefully gives concerns to God and leaves them there. Compassionate love is humble, and accepts that only God knows what everyone else needs to do.  

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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.

* pictures from Qualitystockphotos.com

Ring Around the Rosies, Pockets Full of …Prayer?

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

photo-24784637-praying-businessmanMy four year-old son Jonathan (Jon), was excited when he was asked to say grace just before dinner. We were at a restaurant with extended family members and Jon was beaming, thinking himself one of the grownups. Surprisingly, he asked everyone to hold hands and bow their heads so he could say grace.

“Ring around the rosie, pocket full of posies .” Explosions of laughter circled the table. Jon was congratulated for his prank.

I was asked to say grace in public once. My sense of humor proves Jon and I are related. With everyone’s heads bowed, I reinterpreted an old poem. “God, please bless these vittles. May they add to your glory and not to our middles!” That was a hit. Then we prayed for real.

Prayer is just talking to God and listening for his wisdom. Why not tell him everything? (He knows it already anyway.) Spiritual and mental health depend in part on having someone to talk to.

Since my job is at home, and my sons have lives 8 hours away, isolation is a common reality for me. However, I can reach out and engage with friends, people at the store, the waiter where I stop for a bite to eat, the man who fills my car with gasoline, and anyone who crosses my path.  

More significant is the privilege of an audience with the Almighty God. 

No matter how our major depression, bipolar disorder, or any other mental illness is manifesting, we can talk to God. Sometimes finding the words for prayer is deeply challenging. This is when all I can muster is, “help me.”

And that has always been enough. God meets with me and inspires hope. 

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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 qualitystockphotos.com