Practicing What I Preach One Day At a Time

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

photo-24756526-white-daisiesHello Readers. I apologize for my absence over the past 2 weeks. I had to look after myself and returned to the hospital for mental health care.

Self-care is often a very hard thing to do and it can involve some difficult decisions.  No one else is going to rescue us each time we flail.

I came to Pennsylvania in great fear nearly five and a half years ago. My marriage became more prison-like than it had been before because I was now in an emotionally destructive relationship with no friends or family near. Attempts at making friends at church fell flat. 

A major depressive episode, suicide attempt, and therapy and recovery have filled my time here in Pennsylvania. It’s a surprise to discover how much I’ve had to grow up.

Greg Olsen’s art is descriptive of these formative years.  He is a painter who often depicts Jesus interacting with people at various stages of life.  

One shows a preschool-age girl playing with Jesus’ hand.  Like me after trying to take my life, she seems vulnerable and timid. Jesus is patiently waiting for her to decide how to approach him.  I too had felt uncertain, yet he never left me alone or roared to scare me away.  

Olsen’s ten year-old is surprisingly exhausted, and rests her worn-out mind on Jesus’ shoulders as he kisses the top of her head.  Even the fact the picture is black and white symbolizes how very tired of life already I was at that age.  This picture reminds me I was never alone. 

The teenager is distrustful and hesitates to believe she is safe in the world. She’s concerned that if she yields her life to Jesus completely she’ll lose her self-protections, the ones she has counted on since before she was ten. I too have been lied to and betrayed. Trust comes hard.

Therapy has walked me through a healing process of my childhood. That’s what I mean by I had to grow up. 

The future looks bright and scary because as a divorcee-to-be, I feel like a young adult preparing to step into independence, and carrying all the uncertainty that comes with that.

So what happened in the last two weeks? I re-learned the value of reaching out for support and trusting my instincts. It is never a waste of time to seek help, even if all we learn is we deserve to make healthier choices. If you are stuck, keep walking. Seek until you find the ones who have your back. And remember your life is worth living to the fullest.


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


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