This is not an easy post for me to write, but in light of recent events, I feel compelled to share a part of my story and some of my coping mechanisms…. So here goes. I’ve been described by some people, as a person who has a lot on her plate. They’re not wrong, it is a lot to juggle.Taking care of two young boys, caring for a mother who has been diagnosed with schizophrenia and early onset dementia,managing the household and having 2 bigger dogs to contend with, holding down a job ( or sometimes 2 jobs) and having a husband that works in and out of town does have me mentally and physically exhausted at times. My emotions get the best of me.
I have managed to compartmentalize most of my emotions and to shove it down and deal with them at a “more convenient time” so as to not disrupt my schedule. But sometimes…. sometimes all those feelings have a way of coming up at the most inopportune times…. like when I’m driving. I have found myself having to sometimes pull over at a side street and bawl my face out. At these times, I try to stop and breath. I tell myself I need to pull it together. Its not as bad as I think. I tell myself that there are other people out there with bigger problems than mine and everyone has a lot going on in their life and THEY manage to be a fully functioning human being, so why can’t I ?….. So for a few minutes at the side of the road, I’ll let a little built up emotion leak out and try my best to carry on with my day. Because, things still need to get done. That strategy worked for a bit…. until life happens and all the balls your are juggling start to fall and bounce in every different direction and you find yourself scrambling wondering which balls to pick up and chase first and which to let go of… and in the end you just sit there again, alone in your vehicle in a random parking lot crying by yourself because you don’t want anyone to see you can’t handle this.
As I think back to those days, I realize that I didn’t know what was happening. I didn’t know or realize just how badly I needed some help. I didn’t realize it until a couple of friends told me. One friend’s comment almost broke me… but what she said was so true. She said I wasn’t a robot. I had to feel the feelings. I had to quit trying to play the perfect Stepford wife. Another friend was on the phone with me while I was having some alone time in my car again… she urged me to go drive myself to the doctor and tell them what was happening. THIS was when things started to get better. It did not get better over night, but it did put me in a place where I could muddle my way out of all my dark thoughts. It helped me get in touch with other people going through similar things.
It has been a few years since that day. And a lot has happened since then. Life still happened. Birthdays, funerals, new businesses, new jobs, some people got hurt, some were hospitalized, lots of paperwork had to be filled out for this person or that person, there was times of financial struggle and times of celebrations. I am still actively to train myself to think positively, and look for the silver linings and just be grateful for all the good things in our lives, because life still happens.
Don’t get me wrong, there are still some days that one wrong thing will happen and it is enough to send me right back to a place where I’m crying on a side of the road- because sometimes life just sucks. But this time there’s one big difference. I’m not alone. This time I have several people I can call, in those times where they will just be there- on the other end of the line. They will listen to me cry for a few minutes. Sometimes they will talk me down. Sometimes they will just be “there” … and when I’m done crying, they’ll ask if I’m ok to go on with my day or if I need to be picked up. They know the drill now. There are also times when I feel like things are crumbling and I can’t get a hold of anyone. So this is where social media plays a part in all of this….. I have something like a safe word – a phrase. A bat signal if you will. I will post it and the people who know what it means, know I need to talk. So they call me. They have actually stopped what they were doing to call me and check in. And to me this means the world. It means I’m not alone. These are my people. Squad. Tribe. Village. Whatever you want to call it. I urge you to find your people. Let them know what you need and when you need it. And to those people, I know we all get busy in our own lives. But keep checking in. It doesn’t have to be a big deal like going out for a night on the town. It can be a quick call or text or coffee. Or, better yet – hang out with them when they are doing the most mundane things like getting groceries.
While the most random off comment could be the straw that breaks the camel’s back, in turn the simplest kind gesture could help someone from spiraling into their own dark place. It’s like the butterfly effect.