An excerpt from When Life Is Not Peachy. It’s about how some of us feel after things have gone very, very wrong in our life. Perhaps you or someone you know can relate?
Eff you, everyone. (Also I love you.)
As your world is flipped upside down, so your perspective may be, too. Where before you may have noticed the kind gestures and cutenesses life offers up, now your radar may have firmly shifted to notice danger, thoughtlessness or drama — all of which make you feel depressed, panicked or disappointed.
The events that got you to your sad place have now set the tone for how you move forward.
This is to be expected, of course — it’s a kind of protective mechanism in a quest to avoid further disaster. A cynical force field around you so you can never again be hurt by other humans.
Normal, everyday situations can feel very threatening when you’re in this vulnerable state. A trip to the supermarket, which used to feel like … a trip to the supermarket, might now feel like walking the runway during Paris fashion week in front of a sniggering crowd with all your feelings showing.
Opening emails might set your heart pounding as you anticipate all kinds of doom. ‘Today is the day my work is going to realise they made a mistake giving me a job,’ you might think. Or, ‘Someone might have sent me some hate mail and I dare not look in case it’s the straw that breaks the camel’s back.’
Perhaps everything in you wants to hear some good news … and yet the idea of conversing or connecting to others seems like courting further disaster that will send you tumbling even further into some emotional abyss.
Mostly, of course, the poor sods trying to get in touch with you simply want to tell you you’ve won a fortune from a Nigerian prince, or invite you to have a cup of tea, or ask you if you have finalised that draft report thingy you’re working on. Or even just hear the sound of your voice.
It’s often very lonely, treading a very rigid path as you try to keep your world from spinning further. You so want someone to understand you. You want someone caring to listen to you. To simply soak up a little bit of your sadness, because gee whiz, things are getting soggy all by yourself.
You ponder how great it would be to talk everything through with the right person. And yet, not talking about it seems less … traumatising, because you feel dead certain that everyone in your life will drift away from your complicated self.
Of course, the best types of people won’t drift away.
Saying something like, ‘I’m finding it hard to spend time with people at the moment because the feelings and conversations it sparks are hard to handle’ can be enough.
This is not to say that you shouldn’t talk to your nearest and dearest during your hard times, but rather that you don’t always have to if it’s proving really hard. And neither party has to feel bad about that.
It’s just where you might be up to at this point.
It won’t always be like this. As time marches on, you will …
a) slowly begin to get used to your new life and
b) begin to emerge as a ‘new’ kind of you.
As you do this, finding ways to do things with other humans without your world starting to tip is key. And doing those things, slowly-slowly, more and more is a brilliant path to moving through your tough time.
In the long term, not everything can be navigated alone. So keep an eye on yourself, and if you’re noticing nothing is sparking your interest and you’re not taking even the tiniest step forward, give yourself a hug and contact your GP or a counsellor or therapist for help.
WHAT YOU NEED FROM YOUR FRIENDS AND FAMILY WILL BE UNIQUE AND PERSONAL TO YOU … BUT HOW ABOUT THE FOLLOWING FOR STARTERS?
- Just send me a hello now and then — not a ‘how are you?’. I will tell you how I am, when I can.
- Yes, a basket of treats stealthily dropped on the doorstep sometime would be so nice.
- Please do send me a cheery letter — not pretending nothing happened, but not particularly focusing on it either.
- Can we go for a walk and not talk about the thing.
- A drive in the country without any ‘so how are things?’ sounds great.
- Yes, eating a cake and drinking gin and watching Korean variety shows with no expectation of ‘talking things through’ is a good way of being around me right now.
- I would actually love it if you offered to come with me to my doctor’s appointment / legal service / psychologist.
- Could I see you on my own terms while I’m feeling so fragile? Sometimes things change quickly and I need to be on my own, but not all the time.
- Organising for friends and family to help drop off an evening meal for a week or two while I’m feeling so low really WOULD help me to remember how important it is to eat – and that I’m not alone in this.
I hope this helps you … or someone precious in your life!