The Depths

Stress level 3000.
It’s all falling apart.
You can’t keep up.
You’re no longer coping or struggling, it can only be considered drowning.
Does this sound familiar?

We all struggle with hard times, but the trick is to know when you are in over your head. And then ask for help.
Sure it sounds simple, but few of us do it.

I found myself in the midst of a breakup, 2 fully consuming jobs, a year-long battle involving every single family member, a grandmother potentially being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, a toddler being tested for developmental speech delays, and amongst all this, a non-stop travel schedule.
It was all crumbling around me and I could no longer take it. I didn’t have time for anything, least of all myself.
And then I broke my toe.
That was the last straw.
Not only did no one believe I had broken my toe (for some puzzling reason). But I could no longer kickbox.
When dealing with ongoing stress and mental illness, exercise isn’t just a good idea. It is my one saving outlet. It keeps me not only physically fit, but mentally stable. And now that was gone.
Not to mention current events. I can’t even start with that. I’m no ostrich, but my usual mantra of “news corp, give me something to wake up for” has fallen silent for months now as my hope has slowly died out.

My last ounce of sanity had slipped away and I fluttered.
I sputtered.
I nose-dived straight into hell.

I feel like we’ve all been there. We’ve all got bad days. Bad months. Bad years.
It’s okay.

The first thing to do is to admit to yourself that you are struggling.
Write down what’s bugging you, or say it out loud.
Every problem.
Every stressor.

Then let someone else in.

Telling someone how you are feeling can be terrifying. It makes the problems even more real. And it’s scary to think people might realize you are human if you admit the truth. But it will be okay.

Will people judge you for not being a perfect mom? They had better not. Because they aren’t perfect either.
Will people understand if you say your boss is pushing you too hard? I bet they would give you at least a sympathetic nod of the head.
Will they understand if you tell them you are exhausted? That you haven’t slept for more than 3 hours a night for the past 6 weeks? They will empathize. I guarantee they are also sleep deprived.

If you aren’t comfortable letting someone in, or you don’t know where to start, call an anon helpline and just talk.
Or write your PenPal….. Does anyone over the age of 8 have a penpal? I do.
Tell your therapist. Tell your doctor. Sure, they might try to commit you, but you can politely decline that offer – just as I did.

I started admitting my situation by telling my boss and coworkers.
I told them as much as I felt comfortable with, mainly as a way to tell them I couldn’t take on more right now because my personal life was a disaster.
They were surprisingly supportive.
I then drove 3 towns over to my best friend who I never see anymore. She was beyond understanding.
Not only because she is having a hell of a time herself right now, but because she understands me. She knows my personality and the challenges that come with it.
I told a handful of other close friends and they offered amazing support. Even with small weird things, like not condemning my recent questionable life choices.
I was slowly letting people in. And with it, I started to feel better.

I found telling my family in emails or text messages to be the easiest way.
You don’t have to have a horrible conversation, everyone gets to think it over before responding. Plus, you don’t have to see their faces when you tell them you have totally fallen apart.

I had offers of all types of support flooding in, from the most unexpected sources.
And I started to get it together.

I have broken down before and not told anyone but preferred to cry quietly in the dark and teach myself guitar and alcoholism. That wasn’t as good a system. That system ends with a fall.

The first step towards climbing back up is reaching out.
Mental illness isn’t a shameful thing and it’s much easier to handle when you have a village.

I still have more secrets to tell. But at least now I know I have an army of supporters who are ready to back me.
And it feels great.

Or it will.
Once I get some sleep.

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2 Responses to The Depths

  1. Jennifer Listerud says:

    I’m sorry you’ve been struggling so much, Lynn. I wish I could do something to help.

  2. Kate says:

    Thank you for writing this, Lynn. I’ve always been immensely proud of your drive to do things your own way without needing anyone’s approval or permission, but I’m so happy to hear that you’ve learned to ask for help when you need it. We all do, in small ways every day and occasionally in much more dramatic fashion. Reaching out isn’t weakness, nor is seeking therapy, and the more people who learn that lesson the better off we’ll all be.

    It has been tough watching you struggle. I’m glad you have support, and I can’t wait to see you again before long. Much love and many hugs.

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