Tag Archives: struggle

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

 

 

 

 

Your Mental Illness, Your Responsibility (Part Three): Are You Flawed?

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

Hand drawing human head with missing piece of puzzle in the middle.

Like everyone else, people who struggle with mental illness are not immune to character flaws. Each human being is stubborn, lazy, and selfish at times, some more than others. Stigma automatically assumes symptoms* of mental illness are personality issues, and controllable choices.

When we have a mental illness, we have limited choices. For example, a woman with debilitating anxiety may function normally for days, months, even years. Then something triggers her illness. Perhaps her medications stopped working well for her. Maybe an event, traumatic memory, all three of these factors, or something else set it off. Her anxiety is not nervousness or worry; she struggles to cope. Her work suffers, and she takes many sick days.

No one sees the blunt courage it takes for her to walk out of her door, let alone go to work. Supports rarely praise her for doing her best. Instead, people begin to question her loyalty and willingness to try harder. One may say she is lazy, another might assume she does not deserve any favors. Many seem to downgrade her illness to foolishness.

When we have a mental illness, we have to learn to avoid pitfalls. Consider a man with bipolar disorder whose medication has kept him stable for years. One day he begins to feel manic. Chances are, he is familiar with his disease and recognizes red flags. He tells his wife, calls his doctor, and sees his therapist immediately, garnering all the help he can get. His mood is a dangerous blend of emotions and twisted logic.

His needs require him to stay in the hospital for a couple of weeks. He had planned a ski trip with some old college buddies. His wife called to tell them to explain his absence. Later, making plans, they hesitated to count on him. When they gathered, they treated him differently. After all, he could just go-off on them, right?

When we have a mental illness, we cannot do all we wish. A driven visionary has to fight against major depression’s stress limits and a powerful “I can’t.” She takes one step at a time, yet several times a year and often daily, her energy shuts down. She uses coping skills taught in therapy, and regularly overcomes by a landslide. However, from the outside, it looks as if she has had little success.

Slow progress is progress. It takes heart to do the best one can in any given day. The healthiest of mind and body do not always accomplish that. I suggest that the woman who struggles to care whether she lives or dies because a severe episode of depression has convinced her she is a burden to her family, shows more strength of character by sitting up in bed than the most powerful among us on a normal day.

Yet in our schools, churches, and governments, we applaud outward strength. It is easy (one might say lazy), to value appearance over substance. Is the person with mental illness character-flawed? Let’s reword the question. Is a person’s mental illness or symptoms due to a flawed character?

Character is a matter of the heart. Willingness, effort, perseverance, unselfishness, concern for others, humility, and doing the next right thing, are all products of good character. People who I know with mental illness, myself included, are almost always leaning in this direction. Most do what they can to help others in similar situations.

Suicide attempts, suicidal thoughts, and other mystifying symptoms of mental illness are also part of our existence. Suffering produces character if we allow it. Why assume then, that if you struggle in this way, it is automatic proof you are weak or selfish? You, not your disease, determines who you are.

Next in this series, this blog will address taking personal responsibility for any harm we may cause while experiencing episodes of mental illness.

100_5586Today’s Helpful Word

Romans 5: 1b- 4 (NIV)

“…We have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.”

-Saint Paul who suffered multiple beatings and imprisonments

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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.

*Mental Illness and the Family: Recognizing Warning Signs and How to Cope  http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/recognizing-warning-signs

Set Yourself Free for Your Sake… You Matter Too

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

Breaking the LegacyYou matter too. This is a picture I drew depicting my sons as birds. It symbolizes raising children while dealing with major depression. One hand protected my sons and set them free when they grew up, the other clung to The Rock, Jesus Christ.

I sank a few times over the years; wasn’t always sure I would survive. Repeatedly, The Rock provided something firm to cling to either through bringing the right people at the right times or speaking to my soul himself.  When I was so far under that I could not hear his soothing calm voice, when it was impossible to feel his presence, when pain suffocated hope, The Rock remained.  He never left. When I could not hold on, The Rock held me.

Most of this I see in hindsight, which is why I drew this picture as a reminder and witness to God’s unfailing love. It was time to focus on setting myself free.  I had to learn that my life matters just because God made me.

Finding my footing has taken hard work; the climb out of the muck has required changing my worldview. Still there is The Rock, unmoving, upon whom I am building my hope. He is ever-present, ever-helping, and when major depression tries to pull me under, he reminds me what I’ve been taught, and how to pull myself out.

Why? Why, when no one could have convinced me my role in life was anything other than a sacrifice for other people,  did Jesus not leave me there? Because he knew the truth. He knew I was wrong. He wanted to teach me how unfailing his love actually is. He wanted me to know I matter to him.

You matter too.

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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.

 

An Honest Confession in the Face of a World Gone Wrong

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

Today I woke with such a heavy spirit. It weighed me down, making sitting up in bed a chore. From experience I knew this would not be an easy day and that the disease of major depression would yank at my sleeve from morning to night.

One might say there is good reason for depression. An upcoming major move with no guaranteed housing or set income, a pending divorce, another book release, a son who is angry and hurt over the split of his parents, preparing goodbyes, and unresolved betrayals have shaken the emotional floorboards under my feet.

I’m irrationally questioning whether the last 33 years (the length of my marriage) are being erased as if I never existed all that time. Did I do anyone any good? Memories of past mistakes and wrongdoings shout, “give up!” and “you can’t!” until I am doubtful anything I have to offer the world is enough or ever will be.

Everyone who has ever lived has suffered. For many who are gone now, happiness as I might define it was elusive. Let’s face it, people can be false. Anyone can be judged and misunderstood. The world keeps turning and there is always pain.

So what is the point of hoping? Why bother with this life?

Because this is not the end of forever, that’s why.

God deemed it important for us to be here, to struggle, to experience some joy along the way- but ultimately to live with him without ever saying goodbye. This life is the one chance we have to surrender to God and believe on his Son Jesus for salvation.

I know no permanent hope here on earth outside of the cross and what Jesus did for me there. Forgiveness and mercy are at the cross. All the second chances are at the cross. Hope for a better tomorrow and a perfect forever is at the cross.

An added perk for this life is that I am never truly alone. Walking and talking with the Savior is where I find peace on a day like today.

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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

Who Am I to Tell You Anything?

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

mwk9ntmJim opens the door and faces his new desk and opportunity. A freshly engraved nameplate is symbolic of the change he so desperately needs. Regrets and failures fill his thoughts, then forced gratitude pushes them aside. He is not going to allow negativity to ruin this day.

Jim has been promoted from within the company into a position of authority. Prior to applying for this job, he had been one of the minions who answered to supervisors and managers. Now he is a manager, expected to lead former peers.

Gina works in production. For several years she and Jim worked side by side, teaming their skills to produce the best quality work they could. Sometimes Gina had good ideas for increasing their efficiency, and Jim benefited from the results. Gina also benefited from Jim’s plans.

Only now Jim is to be her boss. She doesn’t aspire to be a manager, yet as the more industrious of the two, she is uncertain how to respond to Jim’s direction.

Jim knows he was most likely promoted because Gina turned down the offer. He enjoys being in the thick of decision-making, and having input at an advisory level. How is he to approach Gina? Who is he to tell her anything about how to do her job?

At the end of each Compassionate Love blog post is a paragraph reminding readers who I am and am not. I may seem unqualified to talk about how to live. Opinions based on stigma dismiss me and other advocates. Yet here I am.

This is my aspiration – making a difference in how people with mental illness are treated, and to offer real, substantial hope to those in despair. Sometimes I end up in the spotlight, but it is not my desire to be noticed. Having my name splattered across this website is uncomfortable, but without admitting who I am, how can my message be taken seriously? People in pain need to know that someone who has been where they are came out alive and thrives.

If Jim is wise, he will continue to listen to Gina’s ideas. He can be a humble leader, ever mindful of his inability to know everything. So can I.

If you have comments, whether they be opinions, questions, or sharing your own experience, I want to hear from you. You will be heard. I can learn from you as easily as you can learn from me. Your participation in the discussion is important because your voice matters too.

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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.

*picture of businessman from vierdrie at rgbstock.com