I am often asked, "How do you get through the hard times?" Tis the season right now to be joyful, happy, grateful, celebratory and all things Merry, right? It's not happening for a lot of people and I want to offer you more that the old "HOPE."
Four years ago, I began attending a DBT group (Dialectical Behavior Therapy) for various reasons of my own. Though not an expert, I did pick up a few things along the way that helped me tremendously.
I have been touched personally with breakups, sadness, despair, loss, darkness, hopelessness and negativity. I was ready so many times to jump ship, abort the mission, throw in the towel, and abandon everything good. Sound familiar to anyone else?
Through DBT, I learned several things. Something that got me through that time was Riding the Wave of my emotions. Instead of getting wrapped up in how sad I was, how awful things were or how desperate I felt for a new feeling, I stopped, took a deep breath and tried to just hold on until whatever feeling I had passed. I visualized the ocean and the coming and going of the waves and I held on to the thought that just as fast as the waves came in, they also left.
Coping Ahead was another technique that I used to deal with issues that just seemed to overwhelm me. Knowing that I was about to encounter a tough situation, a difficult conversation or an event that I just didn't want to show up for, I would mentally talk myself through how to react and respond so that I wasn't caught off guard and shut down or over react.
Part of my coaching incorporates pieces of my past, my lessons, my experience and my hope so that you can know that things DO get okay. The dark times eventually pass but are not forgotten, the sadness eventually lifts and changes form, the heartache gets replaced with love over time, and the negative starts to look a bit different and life seems to feel and look okay again. The impossible can still happen. I am asking you to love yourself enough to not give up. Give yourself time to grieve... like literally, set an alarm if you need to for an hour a day or three hours a day but then move forward as best as you can after you have grieved. Ride that wave until it passes.. because it always does. I am not here to tell you that life should always be full of joy, positivity and sunshine, BUT I am asking you to hang on tight until you feel those things again.
With permission from a close friend (let's call her "Charlotte"), I will tell her story as an example....
Eight years ago, Charlotte lost everything. After fighting depression since the age of 11 and trying nearly ever psychotropic drug on the market, she attempted suicide. She had started a new medication nine days before her decision to end her life. Charlotte had two daughters and was a single mom. Her girls were 8 and 10. The day she chose to end her life, she later told me, had been beautiful. She had taken her daughters to the beach, top off the jeep, music playing while the girls sang, and the sun was shining brightly and she has pictures on Facebook to document it all. She called me to tell me she had finally felt beautiful walking on the beach in her bikini and was so proud of herself for finally being able to accept and love her body. Her girls had gone to their dads for the night when they returned from the beach, and she received a text from her boyfriend that he wanted to end their relationship. All Charlotte knew was that something snapped in her. She doesn't remember anything other than calling a friend to come quickly and to call the ambulance. She told me she never intended to take her life that night. She called her ex husband during her black out and left a message and said she was sorry and for him to tell the girls how sorry she was. I believe, just as she does, that her new medication caused her to do something she never wanted to do. She was in the ER when I saw her that night. Tubes were in her, she was asleep and she was fighting for her life. The pills she overdosed on were slowly leaving her body and life was trying so hard to win. I will never forget holding her hand and praying for God to save her. As she was fighting to live, her ex husband filed papers for full custody of her girls. Two days passed and by the Grace of God, Charlotte survived and was transferred to a Psychiatric Hospital. The first thing the doctors did was sedate her with more drugs. She never swallowed them. Charlotte is alive and my best friend to this day but that night, her life changed forever. Not only did she stay in a psychiatric ward for a month, her children were not allowed to see her. The battle in her mind was nothing compared to the battle she was about to face in her life. The guilt she felt for doing what she did to her daughters was enough to make anyone want to stop living but she knew she had to be strong, to explain, to hold them again. The day she got out of the Hospital, her mom took her home. Everything of the girls was gone. She decided that night to leave her house and the memoires of the life she ruined and moved to her moms house. Weeks passed without seeing her daughters. Under supervision from strangers, she was finally allowed to see them. For one year, once a week, she got to have a tiny taste of normalcy and a look back into the life she used to have with them. Her girls understood, they forgave her, they loved her and they did their best to function in their new life as best as they knew how without her. Charlotte never stopped fighting. After a year of court battles, pain, humiliation, shame and guilt, she got her children back. She lost family members who told her she deserved to lose them, who testified in court against her and who never looked at her the same way again.
I stood by Charlotte every single day beacause I believed in her, and I believed HER story. I knew she didn't want to leave. I saw her grow in ways where others would've crumbled. I saw her Faith in GOD grow more than I could've imagined. Today, she is remarried to a man she met during her most difficult journey whom helped her win her children back. She has her girls in her home daily and their relationship is strong. She never took another pill but she did go through Deliverance, turned her life back to God and never takes one day for granted. Her story is one of hope, and I got to witness the bad and ugly turn okay again. And that my friend.. . is Hope Hope and more HOPE. "Charlotte" is me. I found freedom and I want to help you find yours. (Side note... the ex husband and I are friends and I came to understand, forgive and extend grace to him and other members of my family whom are still absent because we all do what we think is best at the time).
Medication was not the answer in this case and it is my own personal decision. I do not judge nor condemn anyone who uses medication.. it is just my own journey.
(thanks google free images)