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





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