She woke earlier than she needed to. It was Saturday after the hardest week she’d had in years. She thought of someone she loves who is suffering. She wanted to grab her phone, to look at inspirational things. She wanted to see photos–to escape her feelings. Instead, she heard, “just feel it.” So she did, she let the sadness wash in and breathed through it.
Then she lifted her body and decided to go on her mat for yoga after the heavy sleep she had the night before. Instead she found her phone, came back to her mat and saw her friends around the world eating and playing. She read inspiring quotes. Then she put down the phone.
What answer did she think she would find inside the phone? The one telling her to go back to bed for more sleep? To go for a walk in nature? To do yoga? To tell her she was all right now?
She stretched and sat again with her feelings. How had she narrowly escaped despair? During the previous week, all the old feelings of overwhelm and not wanting to get out of bed had returned. She hadn’t felt that way since post-partum depression and post-traumatic stress syndrome after her son was born. Only this time was different: she could be of two hearts and minds. She could see it happening as opposed to drowning in it. Not surprisingly, two days earlier, she had a dream of not being able to save her toddler from a Tsunami coming through their bedroom windows.
And yet, all week, she still got up and produced and produced and produced. But her heart was so, so, sad.
On the mat this Saturday morning, without the phone, the words came. “Go write. Go write now.”
And so, here is how she narrowly escaped despair:
- She took a mental health day, for her mental, emotional, spiritual and physical health.
- She spoke on the phone to two of her closest friends and not only asked for emotional support, but asked how they cope with too much work. One advised no matter what, make time for nature, walks in nature are walks with God. And to pray the old prayers like the Hail Mary–that they are meditations. The other advised her to tell her manager. To speak the truth because people just keep their heads down and keep doing it and then they go on medication like most of the people in her office. She asked her closest friends to keep her in their thoughts, to pray for her and she cried to them. And she also laughed at some of the ironies of functioning under these feelings and under her working conditions. The laughing-crying felt good.
- She let the tears flow and flow when they needed to.
- She called a colleague who had faced such extreme stress the previous year that it made her ill. The colleague advised talking to the boss and getting some things off of her plate. She assured her that she was taking all of the right steps so that she wouldn’t get ill.
- She told her husband: “I am not feeling well. This is like after our son was born, only I can see it happening and I can still produce. But I cannot sustain this way. I feel trapped.”
- She planned meals and nourished herself with real foods.
- She made a mimosa with pretty floating raspberries and watched her favorite spy show. She remembered how she used to pretend (as an adult) that she was that strong, fierce and still vulnerable woman.
- She acted as if she was happy during meetings when she needed to.
- She ran again in her new running shorts. She got the gear to be the magic athlete she wanted to be. She ran half a block, then walked. She ran some more, then walked. She played dodge ball.
- She went to the backyard in her bare feet and got grounded. She did what little yoga she could. She prayed and meditated like a beast, even if she fell asleep during the meditation. She showed up.
She arrived at Friday afternoon, having talked to her boss and unraveled her work into the pieces and places where they belonged. She was assured that her instincts were right–to reach out made sense. That she can narrow her focus to her job and not do all the other jobs people want her to do because of her other talents.
Friday night she became a new version of herself. The one who can take care of herself and her family. She found joy again in the sun and mountains and grass and the air.
She wrote to you to tell you, that she is me.
I made it through the Tsunami. I remembered how to swim again. You can too.