Staying Sane When Life Throws You A Curveball
Thursday, November 24 2011 Natalie Jeanne Champagne
Usually, and with any luck, life moves smoothly. When you have a mental illness, the road is probably a little bumpier than you would like, but certain things remain the same. The time you wake-up and the time you fall asleep. The food you like to eat and the food you avoid. The people in your life who mean the most. The music you like and the hobbies you have. It is these things, little things, that make life easier, enjoyable.
Life Does Not Always Remain Comfortable
Right. We know this. I am telling you something you already know. It goes without saying (despite my saying) that things do not remain the same. Change is constant, preferable, it allows us to move forward. And that's great. Really, it is. If you detect sarcasm in my words you may be correct. My life, as it stands, is nothing like it was two days ago. This is disconcerting. This is not comfortable. It is frightening
My Experience is Not Unique: It Just Feels Like It Is.
When your life changes dramatically, quickly, and you are left to pick up the pieces you feel that nobody has ever felt your pain. If they have, you might not care. What you are currently feeling is all that matters. This is not a nasty case of narcissism. Rather, this the human response to pain. And dammit, it hurts.
The Problem With Love
So, what I am going on about? Do I have point? Yes, I think so. Digging through the trenches, I can find one. Yesterday, my partner of three years came home from work. We asked each other about our days out of obligation. We have stopped caring a long time ago. We just exist under the same roof, avoiding each other, afraid to move on. Breaking up is hard to do. Three years feels like a long time. Suddenly, I picture my home, alone. I cry. And then I remember that this relationship is not working. In fact, it has not been working for a very long time. People cling on to hope, we want to love and to be loved, to lose this is akin to losing a part of yourself. A part you have to find again.
First: the point of this blog is not to ramble on about my ending relationship (though I tend to be pretty great at rambling on) but to talk about the impact huge life changes effect our stability and sense of self.
Let's assume most of us have fallen in love. Further, let's assume that most of the time first love ended. And it felt tragic. Maybe it was. How the hell do you move on? Clearly, you are reading these words and so your world did not end. Bravo. I hope this works on my end.
Second, maybe you are in a healthier relationship. Usually, these things, with time, become positive. But it's a waiting game. Waiting to feel alright again, to stop missing and to move on--when you are in the midst of it, well, it feels like you will never feel "normal" again. But you will. I will.
Tips For Keeping Your Head On Straight(or Sort of Straight)
Now, let's not just apply this to relationships. Many changes spur a negative reaction and can alter stability. Keep that in mind when reading the below tips (tips I am currently using myself):
>Put Things in Perspective: This is easier said than done. At the moment my idea of perspective is recalling only the positive parts of the relationship.Parts that ended a year ago. This takes us to the next tip:
>Write Down the Positives and Negatives: When your head is a mess is helps to pull out a pen or put your fingers to keys and write down what is positive about the situation and what is negative. My relationship, for example, is %70 percent negative, give or take %5. Reflect on this list when you feel confused.
>Self-Care: Yes, here it is again. The importance of self-care. When you are under great stress basic instincts like eating and sleeping are disturbed. Right now, eating is the last thing on my mind. So I buy my favorite foods and make sure I eat. Connect with friends and family. Ask for feedback. Assurance. Support. Visit your psychiatrist. All that fun stuff. It's important.
>Remember that you have survived life changes before and you are still alive now. Stronger than you were.
>Wait. This last bit is irritating. Time has an awful habit of moving much too slowly when you just want to feel better. Think of this time as a period in which you can reflect on your choice and remain stable.
>Allow yourself to grieve. Cry. And for as long as you want. This is healthy. Just make sure that the pain you feel is circumstantial and not a symptom of relapse. Stay on top of your mental health.
Above all, try not to relish in memories of the past. Sure, my partner and I did lots of fun things, but no longer do we want to do anything. Try reality on for size: it might hurt for a while, it is probaly not comfortable, but life moves on. And so do we.