TRUDGE – being resilient as you move through a challenging time in your life. Navigating situations you don’t know how to manage. It may be something you have never coped with, or a level of demand you have never had to manage all at once. Often the initial sense of overwhelm makes it hard to even figure out what to do next. When this happens, remember you are not alone.
You are not the first person to be going through something like this. As a unique person at a specific point in history no one else has had your exact experience, but there are a lot of people who have come close. They have written books about it, created blog posts, and talked to experts. (They have also probably written a song or two.) People you know may have dealt with this when they were younger. Yes, people can be harsh, and they can also be amazingly generous and helpful.
Reach out in several ways. As I wrote in “How to Come Back from a Crisis,” don’t pick one book, blog, person or expert but reach out to multiple people. Who do you know who has walked this path? Who do you know who has experienced something similar?
Check out the ideas below for some resources you might tap into, depending on what fits your style.
An American treasure. Go to the library website and search for topics that seem helpful. When you find a book you want, order it for pick up to your nearest library spot. Notice the call numbers on the spine of the book. Go to that section of the shelves and browse. Pull 3-7 books then sit down with them to decide which to take home. You probably don’t have time to read them all. Keep them at hand.
Notice that you are not alone. The authors went through difficult times and wrote a book about it. Skim the books for helpful info. Read a few pages when you can – look for a good idea or something that comfort you. Books are the closest thing we have to reading other people’s minds. Are there books that you find helpful?
The internet can be a great source of information. Start with the resource list maintained by the Crisis Text Line. These have all been reviewed to be free or affordable, inclusive, accessible, and reputable. The internet can also be a problem. Avoid doom scrolling, time wasting, and endless comparison with people whose lives seem better than ours. When is access to the internet helpful to you? What is your best strategy for disengaging with people who are not helpful? Where have you found good information or supportive conversations?
Talk to real people about your real troubles. This can be hard. Pay attention to how you feel after (or while) you are talking to someone. Did you get some clarity? Was their feedback helpful? Did you feel emotionally supported?
Sometimes we need a complaint session where we lay out all our troubles. It can feel really good particularly if someone else agrees with our view of how awful things are. It doesn’t always move us forward however. The most helpful people can be the ones who challenge our view that this is “impossible” or “unmanageable”. At some point we need to find or create ideas, solutions, or experiments in new ways of being. Reflect on your conversations; what is helping you move forward? Is this person joining you in your misery or helping you consider a way out?
Online or in person. 12-step or otherwise. This may or may not be your cup of tea. If you find a group that is promising but feels awkward because you have never done this before, take it as a good sign. Awkward means you are out of your comfort zone. If after you have participated a few times, you have alarm bells going off, then it might not be for you. Where have you found support in groups?
The Great Mystery by whatever name. Stand outside with your feet on the ground and look as far as you can see. Know that you are not the only person to have walked this path. Pray, meditate, let go. Know you are part of the greater thing we call life, solutions exist for you, and you deserve love in all its manifestations. What faith traditions speak to you?
There are people who have not only educated themselves, but they have also spent time with others in your situation so they have experience with what may help. Most lawyers will do a free 15-30 minute consultation about their services. Therapists often will do an exploratory call to see if they are a good fit for you. Many doctors, physical therapists, bankers, and insurance people have information that may help.
Depending on what is going on, consider who might be able to give you the information or support that you need. What kind of expert might give you solid information that you can use to move forward in your journey?
Literally thousands of people volunteer millions of hours to maintain multiple crisis hotlines, text lines, and other online resources to help others deal with challenges. If you are sitting alone and freaking out about your situation, reach out to a hotline or text line.
You do not have to be suicidal to talk to these people. If you are having thoughts of suicide, they will help you consider what you need to do to be safe. Their goal is to check on your safety and to help you get to a calm place so you can take the next step in your journey. Google “crisis lines” – how many kinds of lines are there?
There are lots of helpful people in the world. This is true even when you feel alone. Complete strangers reach out and help others. Friends who don’t know what you are going through call to say “hi.” Pay attention to the kindness of strangers, it is life-affirming. People have set up food banks, free stores, and other resources.
Years ago, I had a house fire. The news reported that my dog had gone to an emergency veterinarian hospital. She was there for 10 days (and recovered well). When I called to ask about the bill, I was told that it had been paid by strangers, people who had seen it on the news had called the vet hospital to donate. The financial help was huge, but more importantly, it gave me a lift at a time that I really needed it. When have you experienced the kindness of strangers?
‘R’ is for Remember – you are not alone. Other people are walking this path. Many more have walked this path in their past and have ideas that may be helpful. No one else can solve your problem, but it is likely that a large number of people can provide you with information, emotional support, ideas worth trying, and material help. How do you remember that you are not alone?
Laura A Gaines