Yes, you. The person staring at their phone at 2 a.m., under the covers of their bed; at eight, on your way to work; at 12, during your lunch break; as you’re trying to squeeze in 5K on the treadmill or taking a break from writing your coursework. I’m talking to you, as I’m talking to me.
Things will be better. It doesn’t feel that way now, but they will.
This is where you’ll recoil or roll your eyes; I can’t possibly know what’s going on, right? (Just make sure not to snap at your barista when they ask you your drink order, okay?) In a way, you’re right. I don’t know the specificities of the situation. I don’t know you. I barely know what goes on in my life at any given point. Hell, for all I know, none of this advice will ultimately help and you’ll throw down your device in disgust for ever having clicked the title of this article.
But I know with a reasonable certainty that you’re in pain. It’s gnawing at your gut and the back of your throat, behind your teeth or deep inside your brain. It’s making you pound the tarmac until your feet blister, and growl at wait staff; keeping you awake, and restless even during a commute. It sent you, as it did me, down the rabbit hole of the Internet, looking for a cure, or a distraction, and landed you here.
I know. I’ve been there. The hurting doesn’t stop, it just changes forms. Sometimes for me, it’s heartache. Sometimes it’s worry for my family. Sometimes, my own body turns against me, rendering me screaming and whining like an animal, unable to take even the lightest touch. The only constant is that, eventually, the pain ebbs.
If you’re anything like me, you’re rolling your eyes so hard they might fall out of your head right now. This too shall pass? Really? Empty platitudes, devoid of meaning.
I’ve been there, too. I’m here right now, in fact. Despite, objectively, having it together, I wake every day drowning in despair, convinced that I’m stuck in a vicious circle, doomed to repeat the same mistakes, over and over again. People sometimes say: “Why are you so upset about X, it’s just A Thing, it doesn’t reflect that badly on you!” But what they don’t realize is how one little thing (or several big things together) can send you back, how they make you view your life story. We get rejected, or hurt, or our illnesses flare up, and instead of taking it in stride, we think “This proves that I’m worthless, this proves that I’ll never be okay, this proves I will never see anything better!”
It’s not true, but it sure feels that way, and sometimes that despair can make you feel trapped.
Here’s where I am now: Looking at specifics, trying to distract myself until the worst has gone. Not to logic myself calm, but to help myself see. These are the reasons why this time is different. These are the ways in which I have changed. I take myself away from the panic, until I can breathe freely again.
“I’m having an episode. I know what’s going to happen. I know what’s worked in the past. I have supports put into place. I can ride it out. I know who to call for help.”
“I’m sad. I’m heartbroken. It’s normal to feel this way. Don’t call, let them go. You would not have liked to be with them anyway, wait for a person who won’t make you live looking over one shoulder.”
“It’s scary right now for your family. You can’t fix things for them, but you can be there to support them. Just make sure you are healthy, too. Make sure you have somebody who listens to you, too.”
Maybe none of those things work for you, still. Maybe the specifics of your situation, or your previous hurts, are too much for you to look at right now. That’s okay. You don’t have to.
But please, get through this night.
Get through the next day.
And the one after that.
Let your friends help you. Or call a free number. Let somebody else listen for a while. Let them take the load off, if only temporarily.
Wait for it to pass. As runners say, “Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.”