5 ways to deal with unraveling

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I’ve been in a muddle lately. My mind has been wound up so tightly for so long, taut as a tightrope, ready to send whatever is demanded of me—words, ideas, PowerPoint graphics, meals, wisdom, hugs & kisses—flying through the air and landing squarely where it needs to. I’ve been an athlete training for the big race (my research defense? my graduation?), I’ve been a superhero with adrenalin pumping through my veins.

But now it’s all unraveling. The tightrope couldn’t hold the tension forever, and now my mind is swirling into mush and my heart is following suit. So what does a psych nurse do but analyze and analyze until she’s found the root of her muddled demise?

It’s got to be the horrendous workload this semester. The 18 units and the increasing research appointments and the extra research study, oh yeah, and Brandon’s research too.

Or maybe it’s this unending heat, that’s still going strong into October, that keeps us hibernating for 5 months every year. For goodness sake, I just want a taste of what the rest of the country keeps swooning over with its Pinterest pinning of orange leaves and crisp mornings and pumpkin lattes!

No, I know, it’s that ugly word that I hate to admit: loneliness. Truth be told, we don’t have an abundance of close friends here in the desert, and independent as I may think I am, I also really need close friends to survive. Cancelling all of our visitors this semester might have been the worst mistake yet.

My mind keeps running with the next perfect excuse for why my mind has unraveled, and yet a few days later I still don’t feel any relief. Don’t I just need to figure out where my funk is coming from so that I can reason my way out? Why does it seem like the muddling is getting worse?

And then, my wise and gentle husband reminds me of what really happened this past week: Our family got the stomach flu.

A light came on in that muddled head of mine and I recalled what might be the wisest words my mother has ever bestowed upon me: When you are sick, every emotion and thought must be taken with a grain of salt. Meaning: Don’t listen to yourself when your health is under attack! 

And so I will grab this morsel of wisdom that offers me a free ride past all of my musing and complaining and analyzing and muddling. But, I am a perfectionistic/planner psych nurse, remember, and so I will instead come up with a short plan for how to combat my off-kilter heart and mind:

  1. Pray. Not because God might wipe my depression away, but because I find peace in that space, where my heart becomes still and my mind bends to a greater presence than my own.
  2. Get outside. Find moments when the temperature is tolerable and bask in nature’s bounty of sunshine, purple mountains, and wide-open spaces. There is something about touching God’s creation that recreates something within me.
  3. Ask for help. Buttressed within my walls built of pride and…well, pride, is the notion that I can do it without having to ask others for help. I’m a can-do girl, and I don’t need to bother others when I can do it alone. There is truth there, but really, I am not living fully and abundantly when I “do it” alone. Getting things done is not a measure of success, in and of itself.
  4. Be with others. So my closest family and friends aren’t here. So? I am learning that I am an extrovert, which, at the very least, means that I need regular connections with others. It could be as simple as sharing a cup of coffee with a friend or listening to a group discussion on theology at our home church. I just need to experience in simple ways that I am not alone in this human condition.
  5. Write. I haven’t wanted to write here for awhile. Because I’m tired of complaining about how hard life is right now. Because I’m tired of worrying about others worrying about me. Because why did I start this blog in the first place? (Constantly wrestling with that one.) Oh yes, again, as my wise and gentle husband reminded me today—because writing helps me grow. Right now I need it to be as simple as that.

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