Friday, September 17, 2010
The other shoe. Friday, Sept. 17, 2010.
“There cannot be a crisis today; my schedule is already full.” –Henry Kissinger
I just got off the phone with a colleague who is terribly upset. Her son, who’s only in his mid-40s, is having emergency quadruple bypass surgery tomorrow. A couple of days ago, one of my coworkers became a grandmother to a baby born two months premature.
Last week, another coworker was in her second car accident in as many months; neither was her fault. And yet another coworker is losing the home she and her family lived in for 20 years because their mortgage payment became unaffordable. She and her husband, their five children, a grandchild and three dogs need to find a place to live, pronto.
There will be crises in our lives; of that we can be sure. We won’t know what or when, but they will occur. But for people who suffer from a mental illness, any crisis is like a double-whammy. We already feel anxious and depressed, sometimes even when things are going well. That’s our “default.”
So where are our energy reserves to deal with the big things? If our emotions are already in a bad way, what will we do when the other shoe falls?
I love the advice of so many books and websites that tell people with depressive and anxiety disorders to “reduce stress.” I can’t wrap my mind around that one. Who has an extra share of stress they can just freeze off like an ugly wart and flush down the john?
Who can tell their boss to make their work environment a little more peaceful? Or prevent their kids from being kids, or their mothers-in-law from being mothers-in-law?
And let’s say I can do those things. What’s to prevent the unforeseeable? My biggest concerns are around my job and finances. But what happens if my husband has a heart attack? If my mother’s cancer comes back?
I feel so brittle. I never handled crisis particularly well, but nowadays, I feel like I will shatter into a thousand pieces if something goes wrong. I feel like the top layers of my skin have been peeled off, leaving the raw nerves exposed.
It’s a scary feeling, being so vulnerable. I wish I could surround myself with a magical bubble-wrap that would prevent any disaster from hitting me or my family. Because when spilling a glass of fruit juice on the kitchen floor makes you sob for an hour, you get really fearful about how you’ll handle the big stuff.