Special note: This is classic post appeared in 2012 on the original ChronicBabe site. And it’s an example of “getting back to the basics” we’ll be doing in the September 2016 Secret Club. Join us!
I’ve had them, and I bet you have, too: Those days when everything feels way too hard, like every small task is Herculean, like the world is out to get you, like nothing on Earth will ever be right again.
The days when you feel like giving up.
The days when you think it might just be easier to quit work, go on disability, and stop caring about your career.
The days when you want to tell everyone you know to eff off.
The days when you want to throw your purse in the car and just drive off into the sunset.
The days when you want to kick your doctor in the nuts.
The days when you feel utterly alone.
The days when no one—not your nephew, your husband, your girlfriend, your daughter—can make you laugh, because there’s not a damn funny thing in the universe.
The days that feel like a horror movie.
The days when you turn out the lights, curl up under the covers, and sob yourself to sleep.
The days when you Google your conditions endlessly, hoping someone has come up with a magic fix.
The days when you feel like it’s not worth trying anymore.
The days when you just don’t care.
The days when you feel like it’s not worth it.
The days when you feel like giving up.
Yup, I’ve had those.
You might be surprised by how often I hear this question: Maybe YOU haven’t felt this way, but how am I supposed to cope on the days when I want to give up?
Oh, ladies. If you think I’ve never wanted to give up, you’ve got me all wrong. I’ve had plenty of those days, and I’m sure in my life I’ll have at least a few more. Even the most kickass ChronicBabe has moments of self-doubt and exhaustion and frustration.
It just comes with the territory.
So what do you do when you want to give up?
Next: Come here. Notice that there’s not just a website, but an entire community of women who have walked in your shoes. So you may not have someone holding your hand physically, but you’ve got thousands of women who can support you during your time of need.
Then: Watch this 5-minute video of Bjork singing “It’s Not Up To You,” a song I find immensely comforting. The lyrics include this perfect bit: “If you wake up, and the day feels broken, just lean into the crack, and it will tremble, ever so nicely, notice how it sparkles, down there…I can decide, what I give, but it’s not up to me, what I get given…” She’s talking about acceptance, babes, and learning how to not fight the unfightable. And taking charge of what you CAN do.
Maybe about now you’re thinking, Jenni, it’s just not that easy. You’re right. It’s not easy. It’s effing hard. It sucks.
But it’s not impossible. Now take the next steps with me:
Drink a glass of water. Wash your face. Take a few deep, diaphragmatic breaths. Do what you need to get yourself calm. Freaking out isn’t helping you or the people who want to help you.
Call or IM or Skype (or whatever) someone you know and love. Tell them you’re struggling with big doubt and that you need an ear, a shoulder to cry on. Ask them to simply listen to you. Start there. Often, simply telling another person our concerns provides us some relief.
Distract yourself. Grab a book, turn on the TV, do a craft, take a walk, look at the stars, browse the web. Do something that gives your mind a break from your sorrow.
Now that you’re a bit calmed down and not feeling so urgent…
…you can take some proactive steps to work out the issues that are making you so upset. I know—you can’t get rid of the biggest issues, your illnesses. But what are the second-tier issues you can start tackling?
Can you work on a budget for living on less, so your medical expenses aren’t so scary?
Can you share resources with family or friends so you’re stretched so thin?
Can you find sources of humor or distraction that help soothe your soul?
Can you make a plan to search for a new place to live?
Can you reach out to your illness community for help finding a new doctor?
Can you make a phone tree?
Can you write a personal mantra on a piece of paper to carry with you everywhere?
Can you schedule a coffee date with a close, nurturing friend?
Can you take a calming bath?
Can you put this aside for a day and get some rest, so you can tackle it fresh tomorrow?
This is the time to get strategic.
This is the time to write up your plan. Map out all the small steps, and schedule time to accomplish them. Talk to people you love and see who can help you meet your goals. Set a timeline for achieving the changes you need.
You can do this. So many have done it before you. You are not alone. You have resources. This is not impossible.
I am here for you, and so is the whole ChronicBabe community. I believe in your ability to work through these hard days. I’ve done it, which is why I know YOU can, too. It will get better, I promise.
What’s your strategy?
I’ve laid out a few ideas here for coping on the worst days ever. What works for you? Please share your ideas in the comments below. Thanks!