12 things not to do when you’re living in hell

by | Feb 28, 2023

It’s all wrong. And you’re afraid it’ll never be right. Fed up with living in hell you’re repeating to yourself, “I don’t know what to do.” Good, you want out. Would you be willing to consider what not to do?

Don’t attach your circumstances to your identity, including who you are as a spouse, partner, parent, etc.

Hell isn’t such a hot place to live. Well, actually, it is. And all those sordid souls lurking about?

Not the kind of place you want to call home.

What does hell look like?

There’s value in painting a picture of what hell looks like for someone struggling with mood or anxiety symptoms…

It’s a point of reference and connection.

Here’s a portion of a description from a woman who emailed me several years back…

I am almost 25 but I feel like a scared little kid. In the mornings I have trouble getting out of bed, sometimes I don’t get up until 2pm. I clutch my blanket or a pillow and these thoughts come into my head that if I stay in bed I will be safe.

Have you ever painted such a picture?

A more intricate painting

Let’s amp it up on the hell scale with a more intricate painting…

Your life is in shambles. Relentless anxiety, snake’s belly mood, scary intrusive thoughts, inexplicable physical phenomena, hair-trigger nerves, and intense fear have overwhelmed you.

To make matters worse, your finances are a mess, and feeling as you do you haven’t a clue how you’ll keep your job. And if you get fired, you’re not the least bit motivated to look for something else.

In fact, your motivation to do anything has taken the last train for the coast.

Is it you?

Bottom-line: you want to do like my email buddy – clutch your blanket or pillow and stay safe in bed.

How do you feel about that painting? Has it ever been – is it – you?

So now what?

12 things not to do when you’re living in hell

living in hell

“I’m fed up with clutching my pillow all day. I’m living in hell and I want out.”

Living in hell for any length of time can generate a lot of hopelessness and helplessness.

If you’ve been there, you know.

When we realize how badly we want out, we often begin saying to ourselves, “I don’t know what to do.” And that’s a good sign because it means the dots are connecting.

However, maybe we need to consider a different approach. I’ve learned over the decades that when the mission is escaping from hell it isn’t so much about “what to do,“ rather “what not to do.”

Like these…

  1. Don’t expect to feel immediately hopeful. And don’t run with the “everything’s okay” look and attitude. Everything isn’t okay – right now. Thinking otherwise gets in the way of acceptance.
  2. Don’t attempt to solve all 9,000,000 issues right out of the gate. Not only will you fail, you’ll implode – which will cost you more time in hell.
  3. Don’t attach your circumstances to your identity, including who you are as a spouse, partner, parent, etc. And don’t downplay the power of your inboard “butt-kicking” mechanism.
  4. Don’t prognosticate on how you’ll feel in, say, a month based upon how you feel now. You can bet the farm on how that’s going to look.
  5. Don’t turn to folks who would have no clue what you’re going through for counsel. That especially applies to family members who believe they know what’s best for you.
  6. Don’t think twice about calling a crisis line if you feel unstable or unsafe. You’ve taken on a ton and deserve all available help. Dial 988 in the U.S. If you’re outside the U.S. or curious about other crisis resources, here you go.
  7. Don’t assume beauty and pleasure no longer exist. You may have to create them, but even in hell you can find a thing or two to enjoy (and like about yourself).
  8. Don’t use substances for relief. That includes leaning on prescribed benzos. Believe me, I know they’re tempting. But every time you go that route you kiss a growth opportunity goodbye. And besides, you don’t need anything messing with your decision-making.
  9. Don’t get caught in the “I can’t go outside.” trap. Everything changes for the better when you get out – even for a minute. I dealt with acute agoraphobia for a number of years and I assure you, leaving the confines has to happen.
  10. Don’t push away those you love, and who unconditionally love you. You may have a gut feeling that isolating is the right thing to do. But this time around, don’t trust your gut.
  11. Don’t punish yourself – you didn’t ask for this. And even if you’ve made boneheaded mistakes, the slate gets wiped clean when you get to work on recovery.
  12. Don’t convince yourself that living in hell is your destiny. Believe me, others – I – have lived there and relocated. What makes us more able and deserving than you?

You know, there are scads of things not to do when you’re living in hell. But see if you can get right with a handful of these 12.

Take it slowly, you’ll make it through.

Good, you want out

Sure, you’re living in hell and there’s no doubt it’s all wrong. And who wouldn’t be afraid it’ll never be right? You say, “I don’t know what to do.” I say, “Good, you want out.”

Are you ready to consider what not to do?

BTW, this is a definite ”do.” Check out those Chipur mood and anxiety info and inspiration titles.

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