Tag Archives: stress

Struggle is Normal. Overcoming is Normal Too

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

woman with yellow backpack standing on hanging bridge with trees
Photo by Josh Willink on Pexels.com

It is normal to struggle. 

It is normal to struggle. 

Say that to yourself, and then say it to others.  Not everyone knows this truth. 

Recognize Normalcy

I’ve spoken well of previous therapists who helped to move me from suicidal despair to a life of hope and joy.  I was encouraged to change unhealthy thinking patterns and habits.

Due to my temperament and life experiences, much of what I felt in this process was a sense of failure at life. Had I known how normal my struggles were, how they are so common they have names in the psychology books, I would have felt less shame. 

Since that time, my research relating to advocacy has uncovered the truth. It is extremely beneficial to learn that much of how I’d been responding to life’s challenges was normal, even predictable, under the circumstances I’d been given.

Explore your possibilities 

If you equate struggle with shame, let it go. Humans have more in common than many of us realize.

Stress will produce anxiety. Ask, “What is known to help the myriad of people who overcome anxiety?” 

Depression is caused by many factors. It is appropriate to find out, “What works for the millions who recover every year?” 

Being an abuse survivor has some predictable outcomes. Your best question is, “What have others done to overcome horrible lies and victimization and to live to the fullest degree of joy?”  

Within our struggles, God offers good gifts:

  • The help of others
  • Opportunity to rely on Him 
  • Chances to refocus on new purposes

You see, overcoming is normal too. It happens all the time.

Stick to living, taking one day at a time. Allow yourself the privilege of humanness. Take advantage of God’s gifts. You will join the throng of people who make it through.  

 

Today’s Helpful Word

Hebrews 13: 5b-6

For God has said, “I will never fail you. I will never abandon you.” So we can say with  confidence, “The LORD is my helper, so I will have no fear. What can mere people do to me?”

***** 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.

*  crossing the bridge- Photo by Josh Willink on Pexels.com

 

 

 

 

Dear Pastors and Church Leaders, You Matter Too

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

Pastors and other church leaders, here’s an announcement.

You cannot do it all.

You do not read minds, know the will of God for each person, comprehend all marriages or families, or see through walls.  You do not understand all things. So, give yourself a break. 

You are only human

Some people treat you like you are superhuman. Don’t believe that lie or accede to every demand. Hoops they want you to jump through will cost your peace of mind, and drive a wedge in your family. Don’t respond to every need. 

Some will treat you as less than human.  Don’t believe that lie, either. Grant yourself permission to make mistakes and be forgiven. Allow God to redeem the day without you begging for mercy from those who would dehumanize you.

You have a teacher

Take a breath. Take a break. Sit with God, and listen. Put down study for a while; it will not be forever. Let the Holy Spirit wash you with grace.  We never learn much from God when our focus is on stress, deadlines, pleasing people, holding on to our jobs, satisfying the board, anxiety, or panic.  

Focus on him. He sees you.

Practice what you preach about trusting God when times are tough. Read about his provision, sovereignty, mercy, and grace. This is the God who promises to lead you down the best path for your life. Listen.

Take care 

I was going to write about how much the church-at-large needs to change in its general approach to mental illness and abuse. You may not want to hear that now. Maybe you need to know that you matter too.

Leaders of churches also have trauma, abuse, depression, anxiety, PTSD, and other mental health challenges. You need self-care, and perhaps professional care as much as anyone.  Do not be afraid to pursue what is best for you.  You matter too. 

Dear Pastor, you are called to a high purpose, not as God’s right-hand assistant.  Church leaders, you are servants, not gods.  I know you know this intellectually and in your spirit, but is your mind at rest?  You matter too.

Take care of yourself first. That includes vacations, time-outs, and days off.  Nurture family  relationships.  If this seems impossible, maybe you have forgotten that you matter too. 

So very much.

 Today’s Helpful Word

Psalm 27:13, 14

I remain confident of this:
    I will see the goodness of the Lord
    in the land of the living.
Wait for the Lord;
    be strong and take heart
    and wait for the Lord.

 

******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, 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.

 

Joy Is In the Making: How Stress and Poor Health Led to Positive Change in 2017

Compassionate Love: Displaying Compassion for Those Who Struggle with Mental Illness, Addiction, and Abuse   (c)2018  Nancy Virden, Always The Fight Ministries

One year ago, I was struggling with severe stress, doing what I knew to do to cope, and having some rather good days despite inner turmoil. I was in pain emotionally, however the drive to push forward and change how I feel had become somewhat automatic in recent years. 

Familiar depression and darker thoughts visited in January, February, and March. I was never in danger of self-harm, yet wondered dozens of times each day why I was trying so hard.  Grief over personal loss, a terrible sense of rejection, and a loss of focus ministry-wise held me in mental chains. 

In trying to express this to a few carefully selected confidants, I watched as they reacted by  backing-off.  Honestly I cannot blame them because they feared for me, and in the past I have unfortunately given reason to their concern. It was disappointing though, mostly that the work I’ve done to combat stigma did not seem to have had an impact. I felt very alone.  

What no one knew is what all this was doing to my physical health. Severe anemia due to stress-induced gastric blood loss landed me in the hospital twice. Complications to one of those admissions caused harm to an ankle that has still not healed. July to September were spent in a wheelchair, and a cane has accompanied me since.  

Eventually, Always The Fight MInistries changed, as instead of giving up (the biggest temptation), it was rearranged to require less of my focus. The details to all this are many. Those decisions took many months and in some ways continue still. 

Change is good much of the time. A direct result of my health problems led me to switch to an accessible church where I discovered my gifts are needed and desired. The care ministry there provides opportunity to use my art as gifts to the sick. I’m excited to be teaching a scripture memory class beginning this Sunday.  Old friends attend this church, and chances to meet many  new ones abound.

The personal loss and grief that hurt so much pushed me to find solutions and healthy ways to cope. Feeling alone inspired weekly dinners with family, saying yes to social events more regularly,  and inviting people to my home.  I learned to proactively combat isolation.

It took awhile for the overwhelming emotions to dissipate completely. By September,  joy was filling my hopes and dreams once again. That is when the best part of 2017 occurred. 

On a warm afternoon, I wheeled to the homes of several neighbors and invited them to a weekly neighborhood Bible study at my house.  The result so far is six women besides myself, studying the Word of God.  It’s been a blast introducing these new friends to BIble stories, and to the God they prove. 

This past year was one of great challenges. It ended with renewed sense of purpose, and satisfaction in doing what I enjoy.  Learning to accept and nurture my emotional needs has been a little like being set free. 

Here’s to 2018 and whatever it may hold. I’m stronger than I was 12 months ago, and of course, my Lord has not changed. He walked me through it all and I know he will never let me go.  

Today’s Helpful Word 

 

 

Home from Happy Birthday In the Hospital

Compassionate Love: Displaying compassion for those who struggle with mental illness   (c)2017 Nancy Virden  

Apparently, one needs a hefty blood supply to function well and survive. Go figure.

This afternoon I arrived home after a three-day stint in the hospital. An observant doctor took one look at me at a walk-in clinic on Wednesday and blurted, “Oh my G..!” From that point, my plans for the week changed.

Saturday was my birthday (Ah, thank you, thank you) . It was supposed to be celebrated at my house with a little party of friends, laughter, and games. Instead, it was four people (one fashionably attired in her hospital gown best), some KFC, a few rounds of Boggle, and two balloons.

Two of my guests were the most important and influential people in my world- my sons, Jon and Tim. Tim, (who I live with) saw me through weeks of deteriorating health, giving me rides and offering other help generously. Both were sympathetic, and I was not in any medical facility by myself.  From the clinic to ER to the hospital, I was surrounded by their love and affection.

The third guest was a lovely friend from church who entertained us with her game hosting skills extraordinaire. Besides them, were 10 or more Happy Birthday  and Get Well texts, and a few happy nurses willing to wish me the best (and care for my every need). Now, that’s a birthday!

Since September, I have struggled with the loss of two people. In December, heavy sadness mixed with fear and self-doubt brought me to the decision to end the CompassionateLove Radio Show. By March, my therapist and I were talking about a possible need for a higher level of mental health care.

I was okay, not in danger, and yet was not overcoming complicated grief and confusion. Eventually I took a turn for the better, and so expected to finish April with a positive bang. However, all the stress took its toll on my stomach. By last Thursday, I had lost over half my blood supply to a GI bleed, and needed multiple transfusions.

Mental health is by all means connected to physical health in various facets. So is spiritual health. Keeping the triune well is a worthwhile goal and promises many happy birthdays to come.

Please take it from foolish ol’ me, nothing is so bad we cannot exercise a little self-care. When it is the most difficult to care is the time to dig in, eat healthy, talk out your problems, pursue positive solutions to your pain, and keep walking. I know I am preaching what I did not practice. I also know that self-care is sometimes the most challenging part of life.

Well, I’m home from the hospital with yet another chance to get it right.  Happy birthday to all of you over the next twelve months. God bless, and take care!

Today’s Helpful Word

3 John 2 

“Beloved, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, as it goes well with your soul.”

 

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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.

*pic by PAPARABBIT on rgbstock.com

 

 

 

3 Steps to Setting Goals that Fit

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

photo-24758449-illustrated-image-of-question-mark-sign.Most people live according to their circumstances. You may want to rise above that trap but not know how to start. These 3 steps will put you on your way.

Set aside time for this exploration.  Unless you are living by yourself, your home is full of the busyness of other people coming and going, and asking for your time. Of course, our homes have all the other distractions too – that table piled with things to do, cleaning and errands that call our name, escape mechanisms and entertainment, and more.

You’ve heard of the concept of the urgent taking over the important. Our mental and spiritual health can take a back seat to the clamor about us.  Get away from the noise and other obligations for a designated length of time. Take a weekend retreat, have a friend hold your phone for a day, or take a picnic to a secluded spot. However you accomplish this, do it alone.

During this time, think about the patterns of your life. When have you been at your happiest? What tends to bring you peace of mind? What are you doing when you feel the most like yourself?

We may feel joy around a special person or wish for certain circumstances, however we have no control over other people’s choices or external events. Focus on your inner experiences and not on what may or may not happen around you. The point is not to erase relationships from this process, but rather to discover who you are apart from them.

Ask for insight. People who know you well and care about your future are helpful resources. Ask them what patterns they have observed. When have they seen you at your happiest? Is there something important they see you neglecting for the sake of the urgent? What aspect of your persona do they believe is most genuine?

Have a deep conversation with God. Don’t know how? Acknowledge he exists and is sovereign. We are his works of art and he is deeply invested in who we are.  This is a relationship. He deeply desires to show us his unfailing love, and made a way for us to connect with him through the sacrifice of his Son Jesus. Start there. Then ask God to show you who you are at your core.

Write it down! Mark a piece of paper with three columns. In the first column list your current commitments. Family, friends, making a living, mental health, recovery, relationship with God, 8 hours of sleep per night, healthy eating and behaviors, and whatever else you know is necessary to your wellbeing will go in this column.

In the second column, write what you learned about yourself while doing steps 1 and 2. Who are you deep inside? What brings you joy?

The third column is for answering the question, “What is ‘extra’ in my life (not in the first two columns)?”  Only list them without placing judgment.

Finally, you are on your way to setting those goals that fit!  You get to choose what kind of person you want to be and what steps you can take toward becoming that person.  Blockades to what you want may include changing how you make your living.  Tough relationships may need counseling, or maybe it’s time to say ‘no more’. Long and short-term goals chosen according to these steps will benefit your relationships, increase your productivity, lessen your stress, and give you the most you can get out of life.

One Final Note: Avoid using pre-determined definitions of success and measures of productivity. Your goals are custom-made.

Today’s Helpful Word

Psalm 32:8
The Lord says, “I will guide you along the best pathway for your life.  I will advise you and watch over you.”

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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

 

5 Simple (Not Easy) Ways to Successfully Manage Stress

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

photo-24714732-stressed-businessmanJamal feels as if everything is coming at him at once. Major decisions overwhelm him at times. College, romance, difficulty in the home – all seem to have conspired to pile pressure on pressure until he cannot sleep.  Jamal will benefit from learning to manage stress.

Change is hard. Even if it is for the positive, change is hard. These six steps will lead you to more peace if you follow them diligently. Allow yourself time for this to progress. You will see and feel evidence of relief as you learn.

1.  Name what you want.  All too often we pass through a day without real focus. We check off our to-do list and then go to bed.  For some, whole lifetimes go by this way.  What if you focus on your values and set goals by them?

To manage stress, it helps to have a positive view of yourself and your purpose.  What kind of person do you want to be?  Consider each area of life that is important to you. Name your values and write them down.

Write down goals that support your values. Both short-term and long-term goals can guide your decisions. Naming your values and goals based on those values, lowers stress as purpose daily replaces aimlessness.

2.  List what is and is not within your control.  External events are not under our control. Neither are other people.  By carrying the impossible burden of trying to manage circumstances and persons, we add loads of unnecessary stress to our shoulders.  What if you let go?

Over time, people will adjust to the new you.  They will pick up their rightful responsibility to decide for themselves what they want and who they want to be. By letting go we loose our minds and bodies from the chains of control. We are healthier when we accept life on life’s terms. 

Each of us controls how we react to situations and people.  Allow yourself and others to be human.  Jesus said, “Forgive them for they know not what they are doing.”  Forgive yourself for not knowing what to do. Begin fresh today and each day.

3.  Exercise boundaries. We decide what we will allow into our lives, so learn to say no to what is not producing life or strength. Boundaries are not about stopping another person. They are about drawing lines around ourself and refusing entrance to harmful negativity.

Think, what do I want in my life? If you want negative or abusive relationships, then by all means let someone mistreat you. I do not believe that is what you want.

4.  Practice physical and emotional self-care. Our bodies need sleep, appropriate food, healthy fluids, movement, and hygiene. By ignoring any of these we set up defeat.  Do what your doctor tells you to do. Without a functioning body you will experience more stress.

Learn to care for your emotional needs by refusing to use damaging words against yourself.  Be your best cheerleader.  What if instead of worrying, you turned your thoughts to solutions?  If your workload is heavy and deadlines are pressing, think,  I can do one task at a time, one day at a time.

5. Ask for help. Not one of us can do this alone. Guidance, encouragement, and support from people you trust will relieve stress. Accountability, mentoring, and medical or mental help are three possible ways you can grow from the help of others. Support groups offer extra strength. Friendships with emotionally and physically safe people are how we know we are not alone.

“Today can be the ‘someday’ I’ve always wanted. There isn’t enough time in these twenty-four hours to do everything I’d hoped to do, but there is time to start making my dreams come true.” -Al Anon.

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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