Tag Archives: rehab

A Visit to Rehab: The Greatest of These is Love

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

This past Sunday, I drove to Chicago.  The director of alumni events at a rehabilitation center had invited me to speak with residents on Monday. 

Morning came early. While much of the U.S.A. was arising and heading to work or school, these women  continued the fight  to gain recovery from addiction, eating disorders, mental health challenges, or all three. Excited and a little nervous, I left the hotel to join them.

Women in the rehab program advance in liberties as they progress. This time, my audience consisted of women in the process of learning to make healthier choices without constant supervision.  They are well on their way to going home, clean and sober. In fact, a few of them  graduated that day!

Most people in recovery have been told numerous times they are worthless, many since childhood. As part of my story,  I shared the reality of God’s love and message. I added, “I am a Christian, born-again, a follower of Jesus. But those are only words. Hopefully, my life reflects who he is.” Everyone nodded. 

America today hears much rhetoric about Christians, evangelicals in particular, and the mix of religion with politics as if faith in Jesus and a certain political party are one and the same.  It is difficult for those who do not know, to grasp who Jesus actually is. 

In some ways, the standard for Christians is raised. Show me you mean it. Show me you do not hate or despise me. Match your choices to your words. Prove your faith by your love. In extending love and compassion, and sincere non-critical acceptance to people in all stages of their journey, we represent God as the Bible reveals him.*

Mental health treatment in this country is greatly lacking. It is not available everywhere,  and is expensive for most.  Parity in the insurance realm is inconsistent. There are few standards by which to measure how long a patient should stay in a hospital.

In my opinion, stigma and lack of knowledge are the primary reasons we do not take care of mentally ill and emotionally unstable people. There is judgment – “I do not believe in mental health disability, I just don’t.”  “Depression is not an illness,  with enough faith (or strength) anyone can snap out of it.” “You are adopting the principles of the world if you give psychology any merit.” 

All these have been said to me, about me, plus many more accusations of failure. If I could describe  the beauty of joy and hope in the faces of the women I met on Monday,  perhaps more could see the value of mental (some call it behavioral) healthcare.  Maybe  God could get some credit for knowing what he is doing in each person’s life! 

Meanwhile, it is tremendous joy being vulnerable and open with people in the middle of the struggle. They, as do we all, respond to love.

Today’s Helpful Word

Mark 10:46-52

Then they came to Jericho. As Jesus and his disciples, together with a large crowd, were leaving the city, a blind man, Bartimaeus (which means “son of Timaeus”), was sitting by the roadside begging.  When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”

Many rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”

Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.”

So they called to the blind man, “Cheer up! On your feet! He’s calling you.” Throwing his cloak aside, he jumped to his feet and came to Jesus.

“What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus asked him.

The blind man said, “Rabbi, I want to see.”

“Go,” said Jesus, “your faith has healed you.” Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus along the road.

***** 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.

-woman pic by LUSI on rgbstock.com; Jesus pic from freebibleimages.org

*This does not imply avoidance of the topic of sin. As seen in my work s a whole, my emphasis is how we approach people. Are we interested in gaining insight into another person’s struggle? Jesus showed sincere non-critical acceptance to hurting people, and in the context of meeting their needs, taught them to know him.   

Tammi’s Fight for Her Life Takes a Turn

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

photo-24771923-half-female-faceOne year ago, I told you about a young addict named Tammi*, who chose to turn her life around and enter rehab. Four months later, this blog reported her progress. Since last August, Tammi’s experience has tested and grown her into the beautiful young woman she always wanted to be. I am so proud of her! To those who prayed for her, thank you.

The original expected six-month stint turned into twelve. Tammi celebrated a birthday, Christmas, and all four seasons while in the treatment center. She was challenged on relationships, standing up for herself, responsibility, consequences, and self-care. She went in believing she was worthless, and is coming out with a plan for her future.

One big issue was Tammi’s choice of friends. People who believe themselves of little value may welcome bad influences into their lives, even abusers. There are plenty of so-called friends and romance partners who are glad to fill the lonely gap in the hearts of the vulnerable. They are toxic. To Tammi, a best friend was one who was always there, regardless of negative experiences with this person.

Toxic “friends” share secrets after promising to be trustworthy, relentlessly cross healthy boundaries, disregard requests to stop, and aim to control or “fix” the one who needs them.  They are unhelpful at best and likely damaging.  They excuse their rude and overbearing postures with accusations of “you are too sensitive.” These types of people in Tammi’s life would threaten to get angry, leave, not speak to her for long periods, and verbally assault her if she tried to say no. Her life has been in danger in the past because of violent and otherwise abusive relationships.

By saying no, Tammi is learning to uphold her boundaries. She has discovered this changes relationships, and some end. Healthy people appreciate her strength, while those stuck in their own destructive patterns are not happy with her newfound confidence.

This week, she is going home.

She is facing possibly running into toxic people from her past. Old temptations will pop up into her mind in stressful moments. She no longer will have the cocoon of safety found in rehabs.

However, by anticipating all this, she has already established a support network ready to greet her in her hometown. A church knows she’s coming and that she has decided to attend services there. Tammi plans to join a group of young people her age in that church, and find a Bible Study in her area. A therapist and psychiatrist have her on their dockets, also.

You see why I am so proud of her?  Tammi is courageous to have admitted she needed help, bold to have followed through with that, and strong to have stayed in treatment when she could have left at any time. She is powerful, and it shows in the wisdom with which she approaches home.

Happy Graduation, Tammi! You inspire us all.

***************

Other articles about Tammi’s fight:

https://nancyvirden.com/2015/04/30/tammis-fight-for-her-life/

https://nancyvirden.com/2015/08/06/update-on-tammis-fight-for-her-life/

*not her real name

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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

 

Tammi’s Fight for Her Life

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

photo-24771923-half-female-faceShe has finally left it all behind –  the town where streets and corners are mapped with familiar tragedy, the city-trap where mere texts have power to place her in the center of abuse, the so-called friends who use her, the job, and her family. 

A young adult, Tammi is legally in charge of her choices. So far though, a sinister self-loathing had directed her decision-making. She felt the world was against her because in her mind love cannot be trusted.

If she could walk away from herself it would have been done long ago. She has settled for dragging along those parts within that are full of self-hate and mockery. She has hauled them to the court of her mind and declared them incompetent to run her future. Power has finally fallen to her best self as she sits in a waiting room willingly ready to sign away her freedom and her past.

Tammi is checking into rehab. For at least six months she will reside in this sun-soaked prison of her choosing. Theoretically she can walk away anytime and go home, but that would mean the end of hope.

And certain death. Her new life began when she agreed to commit to creating it.

We met in a treatment center one and a half years ago, an experience with different outcomes for Tammi and me. I came home on the brink of life change, she returned to old habits and a cruel romance. We stayed in touch despite great distance, and I had opportunity to visit her twice. It took her months to open up to me, and now I am one of three people she wishes to contact her while she is gone.

Our relationship began with a crochet needle and ball of yarn. Since sitting still is not my favorite activity in high-anxiety situations, crocheting helped me to relax while staying in the treatment center. In true all-or-nothing form, I began a king size blanket.

Tammi wanted to know how to crochet. Her mom brought her some yarn, I gave her a needle, and with input from other residents, I taught her beginner’s crochet. Conservatively, she made a baby blanket her goal. Over several weeks, I am not sure I saw her without that project.

She has nearly finished it by the way, while my giant blanket wanna-be still sits in a bag waiting for that one-day-soon.

Sometimes amazing turns of event result from small, seemingly insignificant moments. My prayer when I met Tammi was that God’s love for her would show somehow through me. Who knew He would allow me to be there for her through crises, and to encourage her in taking great strides toward spiritual and mental health?

Like our blankets, she and I are unfinished projects. The Creator who knit each of us together in our mothers’ wombs is not done with us yet. Together we push toward the end goal of living out purposeful, useful existences.

Remember Tammi in your prayers over the next six months as she fights the good fight. I’ll keep you informed of her progress from time to time.

___________________

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

 

 

 

 

A Holiday Visit to My Favorite People- Addicts, Abuse Survivors, and the Anxious

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

Good Monday to you! Much earlier today was blog posting time, but I was driving from Chicago to Cleveland following a busy morning and afternoon.

Now, my laptop and I are joining forces in staying awake and trying to figure how to put into mere words the profound joy of spending time with women at Timberline Knolls, a residential rehabilitation center in Illinois.

Fifteen months ago, I lived there for 30 days. It was there that my freedom to choose became real to me. No longer do I have to settle for half-life, a shadowy uncertain existence ruled by fear and emotional pain. No. I can choose joy.

And choose it I have! This past Saturday it was a privilege to speak to residents in one of the many support groups held at Timberline Knolls each day. As the room filled with women of varying age, my heart was singing. It was important to remain subdued because these women are in some of the worst pain of their lives. Exposing the giddiness I felt at seeing them could appear careless and insensitive. Sticking to regular smiles on the outside,  my insides wanted to jump and holler in excitement.

When it was my turn to start sharing, I looked out over this brave group of strong women, many of whom believe they are nothing. If only I, or anyone, could impress on them their value. In many cases, they lost a sense of worth at very young ages due to abuse.

I spoke of my time at Timberline, how I came expecting one thing and found something much better. We laughed (just a little) at a particular Timberline rule of conduct. I drew a word picture of the hopelessness many of them know; then tried to describe life after that hopelessness is gone.

They paid close attention as do all my audiences. This is not because I am the most eloquent of speakers; it is because I speak the truth. I share as one who has been there- one who gets it- one who is not judging them at all for anything. Responses afterward are appreciation for saying something meaningful to particular persons. This is God’s work- whispering to hearts what I could not know.

His work is in me, too. Because when I was a resident there the joy I have today was beyond my imagination. People tried to tell me; I was blind to it. I hope that by telling my story, women “hear” what I missed my whole life- we are priceless regardless of anyone else’s opinion.

Addicts, abuse survivors, and anxious women in recovery are crown jewels as they should have been treated all along. They are so precious and vulnerable at Timberline Knolls. Giving them truth that stirs the dying embers of hope and purpose a little is one of the greatest thrills I know.

*****

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.

Timberline Knolls Treatment Center: We Find Beauty

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

handsEight months ago a tiny kitchen was packed with about fifteen women. I was scared as this was my first night at Timberline Knolls, a residential rehabilitation center near Chicago, Illinois.

It was not clear who was new to the program and who were veterans of the process. Each woman was sad, some crying, a few angry, and many of us confused. Later I was to learn that thirty-five traumatized and addicted women lived in this lodge. The tiny kitchen was not for regular use, but mostly for newcomers. I’d been surrounded by women as nervous as I that first night.

Within a few days we had bonded, and it only took that long because of my hesitations. In groups we talked about the concerns and stories that brought us to Timberline. In private we supported each other through hugs and shared tears. None of this looked like what I’ve seen in churches, workplaces, or families. There were no masks; it was intense, yet such a relief to know our hurts and self-destructive behaviors did not make us unacceptable in this place.

I saw women battling mental illnesses and flashbacks, reliving traumas as if they were current. There was crying, dissociating, isolating, anger, sadness, and hope. Residents shook in fear at facing their emotional nemeses recognizing there was no other option but death. Courage was palpable.

Passing the women with buried heads, rocking back and forth, was a parade of people saying , “We are here for you.” In the dining hall at a table full of desperation, there were games, laughter, and comic relief.  If one triumphed even once over an eating disorder there was a chorus of “Good for you. You’ve got this.”

I came home changed. Not only had some serious issues of my own been addressed, but I no longer desired the company I’d been pursuing.

For two years, a group of beautiful people, acquaintances with money and class, had been my X that marks the spot. It was this group in which I tried to find good friends. Yet they had not welcomed me on any deep level. I was lonely and distrustful. Attempts to reach out had most often been met with superficial niceness or indifference.

At Timberline I discovered why I didn’t seem to fit in with this group. My people, the ones I feel most comfortable around, are those who struggle with life and are honest about it.  I like recovering addicts. There is little pretension among those in recovery. The ground is level in rehab.

I like trauma survivors. They get it when a mood grows suddenly dark, and do not judge anyone else’s fears. I like people who fight phobias. They grasp whatever tool they have to use to prevent panic, regardless what the crowd about them thinks.

This past Friday it was my great privilege to return to Timberline Knolls and encourage current residents with my honest story.  They appreciated what I had to say and asked tough questions like, “Would you do anything different if you could go back?”  “Do you feel your children have been damaged by your choices?  Are you still in recovery?”

These people are real. If everything I’ve endured in my life brought me to them, I am grateful.  I did not expect this, yet these are the ones I admire. These are the beautiful people.

***********

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

 

 

 

Returned from Rehab!

Compassionate Love: Displaying compassion for those who struggle with mental illness     (c)2013 Nancy Virden 

Hello everyone! It is good to be home free.  Residential treatment is intense, rigorously scheduled, and worth every penny.  I went there to process trauma and gain control over a 40-year eating disorder, both of which happened over my month-long stay.

I met amazing people. The mental-health professionals, behavioral health specialists, kitchen help, janitors, safety personnel- these invested in me and in the lives of all the residents.  I observed steel strength under pressure, self-controlled professionalism under duress, and mile-long patience.  If you know anyone who works at a residential treatment center, give them a thank you and a hug today.

Of course, there were other impressive people too, the addicts in recovery. I met heroine, attention, alcohol, food, metamphetamine, relationship, nicotine, self-harm, drug, and sex addicts. Most of them were inspirationally strong as they fought their individual nemesis. Those who seemed still lost in addiction were trying to become strong. They were in a good place for that. 

As for me, I feel like I can breathe!! This is incredible. Everything has lifted- the hopelessness, depression, sense of worthlessness, dread of the future, suicidal thoughts… it’s all gone. Symptoms I’ve known every day since childhood have been gone for a week. This is marvelous;  I’ve never known the joy of just being alive until now.

Your prayers have been appreciated. I returned home earlier this week a little anxious about being able to continue recovery on my own. Then I remembered, I am not alone.  I’m diving into support groups who ‘get it’ when talk of disease versus decision comes up. I want to be around more of those people who are able to be real and can discuss common struggles and strategies for the win. I choose to spend time with more recovering addicts.

Did all this happen for me magically at the treatment center? Not by any means. In fact, if I’d gone there any sooner the result would have been less-than. It is the patient reiteration of truth from my therapists over the last two and a half years that finally clicked in the 24/7 setting.  I was able to take back my power because they had prepared me by teaching me I had that option.  Slowly my brain absorbed their information over the years until suddenly knowledge seeped into my heart and became true to me.  In no way would I be here if it were not for them.

Do I have doubts? Yes, and they are manageable.  I’m going to tell you, my readers, something I’ve not been able to say truthfully for decades.  I deserve to be free, to not dread each day, to be ME.  For the first time in my life I get to be who God created and not feel ashamed and guilty for daring to do that.

As one therapist has said to me, “I know what this feels like, and I want you to have it!”  Now that I am aware of what he meant, it is my desire for you, too.  Stay tuned.

****************

NOTE: I am not a trained or licensed mental health professional. I am not a doctor. I speak only from my 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 Qulaitystockphotos.com