As soon as I woke up this Friday, I could tell that I was not going to cope well with my day.
Coping looks different for each person I meet. For myself, coping is being able to get through my daily tasks. Controlling the pain enough to be able to drive, walk the kids to their classrooms, and then go about whatever routine fills that day: work, shopping, cleaning, or the ever present task of food preparation :). Coping is also being able to do these things without my anxiety escalating to breaking point. To be able to be in public without tears streaming down my face. To be able to hold my emotions in check so that I can meet my kids needs without losing my attitude or scaring them with my anger or panic.
At the end of a very big week of: appointments for both kiddos, school sleepover for Mr 9, starting the process of assessment for Mr 5, the “normal” pressures of hubby’s business, blood tests, liaising with the school over issues of concern, medicating my pain sufficiently to be able to walk and drive…. all of this sandwiched between 2 weekends packed full of social engagements that needed to be carefully navigated for Mr9…..Well!
I found myself unable to stop sobbing even after stepping out of the shower (a great private place to cry and then recover before facing the rigours of the day). And I knew that today I would not cope unless something changed.
The problem with days like this is that none of my go-to coping mechanisms will help get me through. So I am faced with the choice: collapse under the weight of my life for that day and hope tomorrow is better, or I can try something new which is invariably outside of my comfort zone.
Trying something new:
- gives me a burst of adrenaline that, at the very least, I can use to get through the day at survival level.
- sometimes adds a new tool to my coping skills that I can call on in the future.
- Helps to pull my mind from the loop of anxiety that I get trapped in. This is helpful in “breaking the state”.
What a great opportunity on a “Conquering Fears on Friday”-day! 🙂
This brings to the subject of the post for today: reach out to a friend for help.
I am not good at asking for help. To me, I should be able to cope with my life. It’s my responsibility. Seeking assistance means that I can’t do it all. And I have to make myself vulnerable to those I ask for help! When you pride yourself on your independence, asking for help can be a huge blow to your self-esteem and even sense of identity.
However I am blessed to be surrounded by a community of family, friends, and health professionals who are more than happy to lend a hand. And those that care for me wish that I would let them help more than they already do!
So with tears clouding my vision (but before I could let fear, embarrassment, or social anxiety stop me!) I messaged a friend and asked to meet for a coffee.
I chose a friend who is in a similar position to myself. Similar lives, fears, and experiences. She is not one of my closest friends, but I know her well enough to feel she would understand the issues that were overwhelming me.
And yes, I had ample time to regret reaching out before I met her at a local cafe. Ample time to picture scenarios in which I made a fool of myself. But I resisted the temptation to cancel. And by the time we met, I had even managed to stop crying (let’s just ignore my red eyes and sniffly nose, shall we?).
The opening phase of our conversation was the hardest.
“How are things?”
“Not great. I’m not coping at all.”
This took courage. It opened me up to the possibility of rejection. I was vulnerable in that moment. But I had reached out to a friend, and of course she reached back to me.
There are so many good outcomes from my excursion outside of the comfort zone today. Asking for help resulted in:
- A sharing of knowledge, understanding, and handy tips for coping strategies in the future
- A deepened friendship with a deeply beautiful person
- a gaining of perspective and re-framing of my situation as she shared some of her struggles with me as well.
I am still not at my best, but I am happy to be back above the coping waterline, and can get through the rest of my day.
Have you ever reached out to a friend for help?