“If you’re going through hell, keep going.”
Hey… I might know you or maybe we’ve never met, but if you’re reading this post I hope you know it’s written by a friend. Someone that cares deeply about you and your wellbeing. Someone that wants to see you shine again.
Right now, everything feels strained. You may not be able to sleep or eat and thoughts are constantly clouding your mind. Your body feels heavy, but somehow numb. Everything you touch almost doesn’t feel like anything at all. Your chest is tight, your muscles ache and you don’t know which way is up.
This is a very delicate time for you and I don’t take it very lightly. That’s why I’ve taken the time to outline what you should do to help you work your way through this difficult time. Some of them may seem cliche or far too simple, but please bear with me on this. They work.
Someone once told me that when you hit rock bottom the only way to go is up. So, let’s start climbing together.
1. Whatever you do, resist the urge to isolate yourself.
People that care about you are going to be the key to helping pull you out of this. You’re going to feel like hiding away from the world, but remember that it’s perfectly ok to rely on the people around you. No one said you had to do this alone. In fact, I highly recommend that you don’t.
Talk to someone that you trust. Spend time with people that make you happy. Surround yourself with the ones you love and this is going to be a much easier process for you. I promise.
You are never, never, never alone.
2. Listen to your body.
Ask yourself, “What do I need in this moment?” Notice that I didn’t say “What do I need to do to fix this?” or “What do I need for the rest of my life?” What do you need RIGHT NOW?
Ask yourself this simple question and stand in the silence for a moment. Feel your body. Listen to what it’s telling you. What is it saying? Is your stomach growling? Is your whole body exhausted? Maybe you need a shower or maybe you just want to talk to a friend? Whatever it is in THIS MOMENT that you need, give that to yourself.
While going through my most recent difficult time, I had a friend that came to see me the day after everything came crashing down. He listened to me cry and try to sort through the mess and gave me the best advice he possibly could (see, this is why people are important). Everyday after that he texted me to make sure I was eating and staying hydrated.
This is me being that friend for you. If your nerves are too wrecked and you can’t seem to keep food down right now, drink gatorade. I lived off the stuff for a whole week. Eat light soups and saltine crackers. Think of how you would take care of yourself if you had the flu.
This is an emotional flu. And trust me, no matter how dark it seems in this moment, you will get well again.
3. Be gentle with yourself.
I am the worst about being hard on myself. One day in particular I was having a very tough time and was venting to my friend when he stopped me mid-sentence, grabbed me and said, “I love you so much and I wish you’d stop being so damn hard on yourself.” The look on his face and the abruptness of the moment felt like I’d been drowning and someone finally reached in and pulled me out of the water, saving my life.
You are going through a hard time. It happens to all of us. I’m going through one right now. Just because you’re going through a hard time doesn’t mean you get a free pass to bully yourself. You need you right now. If your friend came to you with your situation what would you do? Tell them how this is their fault and beat them up over it? No.
This is the time for you to be gentle with yourself. To love and be understanding of yourself. It’s a time for when your chest hurts, you put your hand over your heart and say, “I know it hurts, but this is only temporary.” It’s a time to take deep breaths and give yourself the night off, guilt free, with good food and your favorite show.
Take care of yourself the way you would a friend in this situation. You deserve it.
4. Fully feel you feelings.
When I was going through a traumatic breakup a couple of years ago, my counselor kept telling me to feel my feelings. I didn’t understand what she meant by that until one day I was lying on my couch watching Netflix and I felt the feelings of betrayal and dread start to build up in my chest again. I tried to push it down and ignore it. I tried to focus on my show and hope the feelings would dissipate.
Finally, when it hurt bad enough, I said, “Ok. This hurts. This hurts so bad.” And I wept. I let out all the feelings that had built up in my chest. I cried until I was too tired to cry anymore and you know what? I felt better. I wasn’t cured of my heartbreak, but it was a huge step in the right direction. From then on when I felt something in my heart, I let it run it’s course by acknowledging that it was there and telling myself that it was perfectly ok to be feeling those things.
Do not try to hold them in. Holding in your emotions will only make things worse and far more painful. If you need to violently ugly cry, let it all out. It’s healthy to cry when you’re distressed or heartbroken. If you’re angry, acknowledge that. If you’re confused, hurt, anxious or all of the above, feel it. Feel it fully. Think of it as an emotional detox. You can’t get rid of the toxins if you don’t do the cleanse.
5. DO NOT. I repeat, DO NOT TURN TO SUBSTANCES.
I had to learn this one the hard way. I know you hear this all the time, but I’m telling you again and praying you’ll listen to me. Substance abuse never has a positive outcome. Never.
Drugs and alcohol are the last thing you need right now. Listen to me. If I was there with you in this moment I would be begging you not to mess with these things. They will only make it worse. Alcohol is a depressant, so while in the moment you may feel slight relief, tomorrow the pain will be back with a vengeance. Drugs are simply not worth the risk.
You deserve better than to abuse your body with these toxic things. In fact, now is the perfect time to be focused on your health.
Avoiding substance abuse is an incredible act of self-love that you deserve now more than ever.
6. Make progress on something.
Something I’ve learned very recently is progress heals. I’m not talking about distracting yourself. Distractions are temporary. Progress adds quality to your life.
You don’t have to embark on anything big. It could be something simple. I know for me, finishing a painting makes me feel so much better. It grounds me. Makes me feel in control of something. Writing does the same thing for me.
Find the thing that makes you feel that same way. Create something. It doesn’t have to be perfect, it just has to get worked on. Do something you’ve been meaning to do for a while like cleaning out your closet or reorganizing your space. Completing something that betters your life, even in the smallest ways, can make you feel that much more secure in yourself and your situation.
When you do decide to tackle a project, remember to take time and be proud of yourself for any progress made. The fact that you’re taking action is awesome in the truest meaning of the word and absolute proof of your strength.
7. Clean up.
A clear space equals a clear mind.
Waking up with a cluttered mind only to look around and see a cluttered room reinforces the feeling of being suffocated. I know this might sound like a load of crap, but I thought so, too, until I actually gave it a shot.
Cleaning up your space will give you the physical room you need to breathe. Not to mention it counts as progress and we know how helpful that is! It also just feels really good to come home to a tidy space because then that’s one less thing to worry about.
8. Be grateful.
When you feel like you’re pushing a two ton boulder with every move you make, gratitude is the farthest thing from your mind. You’re consumed with thoughts of your circumstances and the last thing you’re thinking of is how thankful you are to have that memory or that one person in your life, but I’m telling you this can be one of the most healing things you could ever try.
It will be difficult. It will be emotional, but that’s perfectly ok. Letting the emotions out is healthy. Like we discussed before, don’t try and hold them in.
Get yourself a notebook and a pen and make a list of things you’re grateful for. It could be 2 things or 20 things. You may get on a roll and fill out two whole pages. I hope you do, but if you don’t that’s ok. Be proud of yourself for writing even one thing. It takes a lot of strength to choose to look at the positive when everything feels so negative.
9. Remember that you have survived everything up until this point and you will survive this, too.
Life is not easy, but it is worth the trouble. Everything that we go through is temporary. Don’t believe me? Are you still going through the same things now that you were 10 years ago? No. You’re not. You’re not worried about what that one girl from middle school thinks about you or whether you’re going to run into your high school bully. That’s because our circumstances are temporary. Life is all about change. Sometimes it’s good and sometimes it feels like it’s bad, but either way it’s designed to make you grow.
The things we go through in life are what shape us as people. It’s up to us to decide how that will shape our future. We can choose to hide under a rock and become bitter or we can recognize that this can make us the better, stronger, more compassionate individuals that the world needs, but only if we let it.
You’ve made it this far. Don’t give up now.
10. Pray, pray and pray some more.
I’ve never leaned on God more in my life than I am right now. I’m praying constantly throughout my day, everyday. The situation I’m in is completely out of my hands. All I have left to do is trust God with it. And that’s what you need to do, too.
That being said, I know this is the last thing you want to hear. I HATE when I pour my heart and soul out to someone and their response is, “You just gotta trust God.” It makes me so mad because what does that even mean? Well, I’ll tell you.
Recently, I’ve learned that trusting God is not about skipping around happy-go-lucky and singing about how God is going to fix all your problems. It’s about feeling the gravity of your situation and telling God how much it hurts. How desperate you are to fix it, whatever it is. Go ahead and scream at Him, He can take it. It’s about asking Him for exactly what you’re hoping for and knowing that if He says no, it’s because He has a better plan than the one you have. It’s a hard pill to swallow, but you have to remember that this situation does not mean God has turned His back on you. We have a God that reaches down to us and all we have to do is reach back.
If you’re not sure what exactly to pray for, ask God for peace. For patience and guidance. God said, “Ask and you shall receive.” So, ask.
You have to know that God loves you more than anyone ever could. He made you. He allowed this situation to happen because 1. He is laying a path to get you where He wants you to be and 2. He knows it’s going to make you stronger. Your Heavenly Father has not turned His face away. His ears are open and His hand is over you. That you can trust.
11. Know that I am praying for you, too.
For every prayer I’m saying for my own situation, I’m saying two for yours.
Believe in yourself, never give up and know that this, too, shall pass.
Always on your side,