It always seems this way doesn't it? Something bad happens and you struggle to cope. But no sooner than you are attempting to deal with the first event when another crisis hits. There can be this domino effect of one crisis causing another and before you know it you feel shell shocked. How can one cope when multiple bad things happen within the same time frame?
This has happened to me many times and I am sure many of you can relate to this experience as well. I think for many of us, we have this biological predisposition towards depression. And then we get hit by multiple stressors and "BAM!" we find ourselves drowning in emotional despair.
I have personally experienced much trauma and hardship in my life. My most recent challenge was being told that I have a lifelong disease called Multiple Sclerosis. Of course this did not happen at a convenient time. Does it ever? I received my diagnosis pretty much at the same time that my youngest son who has autism was entering a very turbulent adolescent stage. Around this same time I was also asked to come in for a repeat mammogram. They had seen something on the first scans and they needed to repeat the procedure.
I remember feeling emotionally numb as though I were sleepwalking. One day I was fine and the next I wake up to find I had an incurable disease and possibly another medical problem to boot. During this time my son's behaviors seemed to spiral out of control. He was having trouble sleeping through the night; he began to have urinary accidents, and would cry with anger and frustration at the slightest provocation. He would also burst into hyperactive energy which caused him to run and me to run after him. Sometimes I felt more like his bodyguard than his mother.
The thoughts came flooding into my head of "How am I going to do this?" How was it possible that I could cope with autism, Multiple Sclerosis, and also the threat of yet another disease?
There came this moment of clarity for me when I was sitting on my couch and just staring at the living room wall. The light from the window blinds was penetrating through and casting long shadows on the white wall. Time seemed to slow down and me with it. I watched as the shadows changed almost imperceptibly. As the wind would move the leaves outside the window the light would dance and flicker. It was a nothing moment in that nothing extraordinary was happening. But within that moment I can tell you that I changed. I felt calmness and a resolve. The light would always be there. Long after I am gone that light will shine through someone else's window. If I could survive this moment then I could survive others. In between all the crises is the awe of a single moment of clarity.
Sometimes we are pared down to our bare essentials. We become this condensed version of ourselves in order to survive. I believe that is how I coped with this crazy time in my life. I conserved my strength for when I truly needed it and I began to focus on what was most important. One philosophy which has always helped me comes from what is known as the serenity prayer. And if you are not religious, it doesn't matter. In my opinion the serenity prayer is a guide towards wisdom. If you are not familiar with it, it goes like this: "God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference." In times when we are overwhelmed with emotion, it can sometimes be helpful to apply logic to the situation as hard as that may be.