Torn up and rusted out

Sometimes life comes along and after a storm of events, circumstances, losses, and/or just plain rough treatment by others, it beats us up. We can feel stressed, exhausted, abused, betrayed, depressed, shocked, and even numb.

It is not just one thing. It may become one thing after another. We begin to wonder if it will ever let up.

What we call “concern” turns into full-time worry that keeps us up all night and the next night as well.

We sit amid the rubble of our lives and look around. We sigh, “What are we going to do?”

We can feel like this beat up, rusty safe that could not protect those we love around us from what is happening. Those feelings can become hopelessness. Time can pass faster than we can adjust and before we know it, we may may experience one or more of the following:

  • unable to sleep
  • sudden weight gain or loss
  • just going through the motions
  • worried about just one more thing going wrong
  • unable to get out of bed
  • cannot feel anything

One or two of these items on the list isn’t a show-stopper, but the more items we experience, the more difficult it may be to get going again.

There is no specific “follow this formula” to solve the issues with one’s current circumstances. But there are some critical points to remember.

First of all, recognize and acknowledge the impact of what is going on. Grief and loss have their own timetable and others may try to push. Simply acknowledge that they do not understand and take all the time needed.

Try to reduce the number of items that are urgent and stick to the important ones. Self-care is a must which includes the following:

  • Get as much sleep as one can manage
  • Eat healthy at regular intervals
  • Take time off from stress on problem solving to enjoy activities, even for an hour or two
  • See a physician for a checkup and let them know what is going on. Keep all medications current.
  • Stick to a regular schedule with some flexibility.
  • Maintain a fitness routine because exercise lowers stress and improves outlook.
  • Simplify whatever you can in terms of meal preparation, housekeeping, and other chores.

Support from others is very helpful and in many cases necessary. Gather with family and friends and let them know what is going on. Accept offers for child care, elder care respite, and other ways people offer to pitch in. If needed, be sure to get the necessary professional help.

Resilience, particularly the ability to move on toward problem-solving, boosts one’s ability to spring back. It can be cultivated.

Remember the power of hope. Hopelessness in depression is a key factor in suicide. Make it a point to restore hope and focus on a long-term perspective.

After 9/11 Swain (2011) found that the chaplains working at Ground Zero who maintained their spiritual disciplines of scripture reading, prayer, and worship had the highest ability to avoid the post-traumatic stress and subsequent burnout. Spirituality is a key factor in hope as well as the power of keeping as much order in one’s life as practical.

When in the middle of the crisis, it can appear as though it will continue indefinitely. While the end may not be in sight, in time, the crisis will end and/or dissipate. However, there is usually little we can do to expedite the end. Efforts are most productive on concentrating on the next faithful step.

One step at a time. Even if you need a long rest between each step.

This blog is in no way intended as a substitute for medical or psychological counseling. If expert assistance or counseling is needed, the services of a competent professional should be sought.

Image credit: “safe” – © 2007 Paul Keller – made available under Attribution 2.0 Generic

Swain, S. (2011). Trauma and transformation at Ground Zero: A pastoral theology. Minneapolis: Fortress Press.

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