There is Always a Choice- No, Really!

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

photo-24758742-vector-image-of-a-man-with-question-mark-thought-bubble.Here in Northeast Ohio it is about 4o degrees. Wasn’t it just two weeks ago we were running around in shirtsleeves in 70 degree weather? Last week we had a little snow. The temperature will rise and fall again many times before Christmas. Oh well, we’ll roll with it. We aren’t new to this hot-warm-cold roller-coaster.

In the mental health realm,  I’ve learned it is in our power to decide how we will react to emotional roller coaster like mood swings, anxiety attacks, and those good days followed by not-so-good ones. Feelings influence us, but do not own us or decide our behavior.

For example, I haven’t found a home church since my move. It’s been ten weeks! Social anxiety tells me to stay home and not be a visitor again. However, I’ve visited several churches and each time have come away encouraged, with a different perspective, and a sense of gladness that I have spiritual brothers and sisters all over town.

Perhaps you have social anxiety too. Maybe you struggle with an eating or mood disorder. Trauma in your past or present might have you believing there is no hope. Here’s the wonderful news- you get to choose how to respond to those challenges.

Social anxiety? Today may not be the day you do a meet and greet with the neighbors. We have limits, and that’s ok. Maybe taking your step forward will mean making a phone call and saying hello to a friend. Imagine the sense of accomplishment you can enjoy if you acknowledge your courage!

Eating disorder?  Your step toward change may be reaching out for support today. It’s a good idea to remember we alone are powerless against food addiction and compulsive food behaviors. We need people and the Highest Power for strength. Think how great you could feel tomorrow if you take care of your support needs today!

Mood disorder? You have a choice to do something different from what is not working for you. For example, in deep depression movement may only mean sitting up in bed for a few minutes. If you manage that, applaud yourself!  In any mood swing we can ask, “Do I want to stay as I am today? If not, what (small) step will I take toward becoming how I want to be?”

Hopeless? This dark and hollow cave in which you dwell now is not your home. You don’t have to live there. When options seem to have run out,  a choice remains – we can hope for hope. We have to know that our perception is not complete.

Hope is hiding behind oppressive memories, chilling fear, or self-hatred. We  think we know how worthless we are, and believe our pain will never offer a break. Truth is, hope will reveal itself a little at a time as we work with knowledgeable supports to slowly remove the obstacles.  You can hope for hope today, even this moment.

For more practical ideas, see my post, Gain a Mindset of Hope.


 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.

 *picture from


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