When You Are Struggling Just Remember This
Times are weird and stressful, there’s no doubt about it and when you are struggling it can be hard to see light at the end of the tunnel. Remember though, it’s not just you! Failing to remember that makes it really easy (and really tempting) to feel like things are never going to get better.
This is particularly true in the United States right now. A great number of folks are scared rigid, for a variety of reasons. Whether it is the baby boomer trying to cope with aging parents, caring for grandchildren, and simultaneously working full time or what have you – lots of us are feeling overwhelmed.
In my other life, I have been and am a peer counselor for folks who have been having a difficult time for one reason or another. I have had formal training in psychology and have been working on my own issues a long time. Along the way I have picked up some helpful tips which might help you when the going gets rough.
Before I go further, please understand: I am not a doctor or a professional psychologist. When in doubt, you should always seek professional advice from them in preference to anything you read on this blog (or any other blog!)
First Up: Stop – Just Stop
Whether you are caring for an infant or an adult that can’t care for him or herself you can’t just ignore your responsibilities. No matter how you are feeling. But the good thing is that even if you don’t know it yet there are people right down the road who can, and will step in to help you and the people who are counting on you. More on that later.
The bottom line – if you feel like you’re going to explode and that you just can’t take this crap anymore sit down. Don’t do anything for at least a few hours beyond what you have to do to continue being alive, i.e. eat, drink, and don’t jump off of any high places.
Next Up: Find One Immediate Need
It can help tremendously if you stop thinking about ALL the things in your life that you wish were different/that trouble or scare you and just start with the most pressing need. Are you hungry and don’t have money or food? Do you need a place to stay? Are you scared of your romantic partner or a family member? Have they disconnected your power for non-payment and you don’t have the money to get it turned back on?
You don’t have to manically rush to figure it all out (or even rush to figure out the one most pressing need.) Usually when the meltdowns start we actually DO know what the top of the list is. Identify that one need and once you’ve rested for a little while, start working on that one. Don’t allow yourself to get stuck in any sort of shame. ALL of us need help at one time or another and you don’t have time to feel weird, you need to take action.
If you live in the USA or Canada, you are likely to have access to an information service to help you. You just dial 211… just as you call 411 for directory assistance. They have all sorts of information to help solve all sorts of problems. Click here for details if you want to know all the areas they cover…but it might be simpler just to call.
If you live in the UK, contact the closest “Citizen’s Advice Bureau.”
Next Up: Talk to Someone you Trust
I was really saddened as I grew into adulthood and realized that so many people don’t have someone that they trust. If you don’t, that’s something that you can, and should remedy. Personally, because of my parents, I was introduced to a somewhat unusual branch of Christianity, which is “Unity.” (Not to be confused with Unitarians, although by and large Unitarians can be helpful and wonderful too!)
When the going really, really gets challenging for me and I don’t have any other options – I reach out to a wonderful group of people called “Silent Unity.” These people (who are Christians) are there 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year to pray with all callers. They dont’ try to get you to come to their services, they are just there to be with you. They are not a counseling line, but I have found, many many times, that they can be incredibly calming when the going gets difficult. The phone numbers to reach Silent Unity are:
This is a link for a little more information about what to expect when you call Silent Unity. This is a free service.
Pay Attention to the People Who Are Around You
This is a two-pronged strategy and it works on a few different levels.
Part one is friends and/or family. For example, if you are struggling with drugs and alcohol and all your friends are party animals it’s going to be tough to break the habits. But it is not impossible to do so. The same goes for family of course.
This does not mean you need to drop all your friends (or your family!), but it could mean that you should take a break. The people we spend time with color our experience of life to a huge degree.
The other part of paying attention to people is possibly the most powerful tactic for dealing with a meltdown that I have ever experienced. Put very simply, that is to help someone else. What you do or how much you do doesn’t matter to a great extent. It is about helping to make a difference in someone else’s life. Making a difference in theirs will also make a difference in yours. There is no limit in how much helping out our fellow humans can actually help ourselves/can even change the course of a meltdown.