In tears, running her fingers through her hair, she was laying it all out. Her failing marriage, troubled son, depression, and anxiety – it was all too much to bear. “Bill, I’m totally collapsing. I can’t make it this time around!”
She must have thought I was the one on the verge of collapse. I looked her in the eyes and calmly said, “Yes you can.”
Tired and dysfunctional relationships, family members and friends in crisis, the economy, 24/7 troubling news broadcasts. And on top of it all, your depression, anxiety, and/or mania.
Is it any wonder you find yourself on the very brink of collapse now and then. But never forget the now and then part of the equation. More in a short, but it implies you’ve been in the midst of similar circumstances – and survived.
The whirlwind is what you make of it. Yes, I know we’re all built differently and have tolerances all over the board. But rarely have I worked with someone in the midst of hell that I didn’t believe had the interpersonal resources to emerge.
A Veteran First
Okay, I’m a licensed counselor. But first and foremost I’m a mood and anxiety veteran. I’ve been on the verge of what I believed to be collapse numerous times over several decades.
I know the horror and hopelessness of – you name it – panic, anxiety, derealization, depersonalization, agoraphobia, intrusive thoughts, depression, elevated mood, and alcoholism.
As many times as I thought I would collapse like a house of cards, it never happened. Actually, I had too much invested in my misery to bail. I mean, how could I continue to beat myself to a pulp if I perished?
But then it was time to survive for the best of reasons.
10 “Yes you can’s”
What I’m about to offer didn’t spew forth from a shrink textbook or a counseling conference. I wouldn’t do that to you. What you’re about to read comes from my heart, based in my life experience.
When you find yourself standing at the threshold of what you think is total collapse, come back to the following (print this, for goodness sake)…
- Put the whirlwind on hold. Step back, take a few deep breaths, and gather even a smidge of perspective.
- Make a short list of what’s truly going on.
- Come to grips with your history of inaccurate thinking, which has always led to troublesome emotions and behavior.
- Accept the reality of life’s unavoidable suffering – and be worthy of yours. It may come in different flavors, but all of us are called to endure pain.
- Take your first steps toward changing your patterns of thought. Start with #3, and move on to the fact that your emotional and mental reserves are deeper than you believe.
- Think about times in the past when you were at the very same place. Come on, you know you have been – and made it out.
- Grab a pad and pencil and jot down as many pieces of personal history survival proof as you can.
- From a different angle, try to prove to yourself you’re unable to emerge.
- Meditate upon the lessons to be learned in your present situation. And be thankful you have the opportunity to grow.
- Get angry! Come on, are you going to let your circumstances beat you? Bammo!
What More Can I Say?
Again, I know the hell of despair and believing emotional, mental, and physical collapse are at hand. I’m 100% with you and feel your pain, darkness, and hopelessness.
But in the midst of seemingly 10 million “I can’t take it anymore’s!”, I blindly chose to keep bouncing back. And then it happened – I emerged and flew skyward like a butterfly.
Is it any wonder I can calmly reassure you – “Yes you can.”