Compassionate Love: Displaying Compassion for Those Who Struggle with Mental Illness or Abuse (c)2019 Nancy Virden, Always The Fight Ministries
For a long time after my suicide attempt in 2011, life seemed to hold little worthwhile substance. Never mind I wrote a book, learned how to collage, began a writing and speaking career, and created newsletters for two classes at my church. Some days felt like fresh air and possibility. Most seemed stale and defeated.
My feet kept moving. On days with little to do, I gazed at walls or the computer screen, attempting life with little focus. Therapy homework added helpful busyness; going to therapy did as well.
However, I am a decision-maker. Once I make a commitment, 98% of the time I will stick to it no matter the cost. I’d made the decision to die by suicide. As strange as it may sound, it was difficult for me to change my mind.
Pivoting in indecision kept me stuck. My moral center- that of wanting to please and honor Jesus – kept me from acting on the pursuit of death again no matter how I felt. It also gave me patches of solid ground on which to painstakingly climb out of the quicksand that is major depression.
Still, it was living for living’s sake. Breathing for breathing’s sake. Someone said, “You are doing phenomenally” (referring to all the projects I had taken on despite depression). That encouraged me until the moment was over and the sense of lifelessness returned.
For a few years, occasional kudos were like sunshine and a bit of cheer leading pushed me to function. I doubted I could continue the fight without them. That theory was tested when I moved back home, eight hours away, leaving those supports behind.
Not once since I made the decision to move have I for even a nano-second regretted that choice. This is where I belong. It is where I fit. People here speak my language.
Life on my own was hard for two years. It didn’t seem I had the stamina to make healthy and wise decisions without input or an “atta girl”. Yet here is where it gets interesting.
At the end of those two years I took what I had learned from therapy and made some major decisions to remove what wasn’t helping and to grasp what would. I joined a church where my giftings are wanted. Relationships with next door neighbors are deliberate and improved. Weekly dinners with my grown sons added to a sense of belonging. Good friendships formed. Old friendships reignited. Now I know I am needed, wanted, and loved by many people.
It seems almost overnight life felt meaningful. Sure, nearly seven years is hardly overnight. Hard work after the suicide attempt, moving despite deep pain, getting up the next day after a lousy one – those decisions paid off. Staying alive was so much more than breathing.
I am committed to pursuing what is in my heart to do. It is still vital to honor and please Jesus. In a healthier mindset, I know he loves me too.
Today’s Helpful Word
John 10: 10b-11a
“I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. I am the good shepherd.” -Jesus
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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 and behavioral health challenges. In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental or behavioral health care.
If you are 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. or go to your nearest emergency room. (for international emergency numbers, go here ). Hope and help are yours.