I need a break from myself
July 17, 2013 11:32 AM   Subscribe

Six weeks ago I was flying high! Nothing could go wrong in my life and I woke up every morning with the smug satisfaction that life was superb and nothing could bring me down....Unfortunately, everything that could go wrong, has gone wrong in the last few weeks and I need help bringing myself out of this funk.

I don't mean to catastrophize, and I do realise I'm being overly-dramatic, but seriously, these last few weeks have been just awful. Just when I think I'm overcoming all the crap, something else happens than brings me down even further.

Without being too specific, problems in the last 6 weeks have included:

1 - Relationship drama
2 - One huge Family problem
3 - Issues with my in-laws
4 - Potentially huge vet bill coming up
5 - Technological issues (my stupid phone broke and they won't fix it under warranty and no-one will help me and I have to buy a new phone AAAAAHHHH!!!)
6 - I fell over in the work lunch room and literally could NOT STOP CRYING for the rest of the day

This is not like me, usually I face all kinds of problems in what I consider to be a logical and healthy way... I can usually laugh the little things off and focus on solving the bigger problems in a mature manner.... except this time I just can't seem to shake it. I know that most of my issues are nothing compared to other people's problems and I just need to buck up and get on with things - but this is where I'm struggling... I just can't seem to do that this time! Smaller problems keep popping up and I'm struggling to breathe and react to things in an appropriate way.

How can I take a breath and re-set? Just when I think things are getting better, everything comes crumbling down again and I know I'm not depressed, I'm just in a funk and can't get out.

Help me gain some perspective please! What kinds of things help you in this sort of situation?
posted by JenThePro to Human Relations (18 answers total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
You say you need a break. So...can you take one? Spa weekend? Visit a friend out of town? Go camping? Yoga retreat?
posted by greta simone at 11:42 AM on July 17, 2013 [3 favorites]

When things are getting me overwhelmed I usually try to take a "check out" weekend. I take a weekend to ignore all the problems and just do fun non-grown-up, totally care free things like go get a pedicure or go to the beach or have a horror movie marathon. I usually have my check out weekends in a different city where my best friend lives, AWAY from home. Home is where my issues are. Everything is hunky dorie in the other city.

Basically, I take a breather. A weekend long breather. There is nothing quick and easy that resets me, I need a full weekend to properly give my body and brain a reboot. Take a weekend guilt free and just check out from all the things that are going on. Sleep a lot. Do fun things. Eat some junk food. Get some exercise. Bask in the sun.

When I get back to normal monday I am always MUCH more able to handle all the problems.

No joke, last weekend was a check out weekend for me. I have a metric ton of stressors at the moment, my wedding being in two months being a major contributor as well as some pretty significant health concerns/issues. At my fiance's insistance I ran away for the weekend to my best friend's where we went shopping and got our hair cut and went for a hike and spent an afternoon on the beach. It was just a hedonistic fun care free weekend. I am REMARKABLY improved. I'm not losing my mind over everything as much, nor am I constantly on the brink of tears the way I was. This seriously works.
posted by PuppetMcSockerson at 11:43 AM on July 17, 2013 [1 favorite]

You say that you "just need to buck up", which I agree is often a good response to the day-to-day LIFE we live. That said, I also think it's more than ok to sometimes just allow yourself to feel whatever it is you're feeling. Take that breath you need to take for yourself. This could mean spending sometime alone with yourself doing whatever it is that relaxes you and puts you in a peaceful state.

When I was struggling through a period like this several months ago, I tried to do all of the things that made me happiest and made me feel hopeful about whatever was around the bend. Listened to uplifting music, took walks where I tried to appreciate the simple beauty of the life around me. These sorts of things put the "bad" into perspective. Sometimes you just need little reminders that life is an ebb and flow.
posted by singinginmychains at 11:44 AM on July 17, 2013

What kinds of things help you in this sort of situation?

For the relationship and family stuff, start by deciding what the proper boundaries are. You may be taking on drama and stress that is not yours. This is very common in relationships. Try not to allow yourself to worry about things that you have no control over.

Phone: certainly a friend has an old phone you can use until you can afford a proper replacement. It might not have all the features of yours, but it can certainly text and make calls. (I've had as many as 3 old phones at a time in a sock drawer.)

Huge vet bill: You might have to make payments.

Lunchroom crying: your body and mind are telling you that you are getting overwhelmed. Listen to them and be nice to yourself.

To repeat: be nice to yourself.
posted by The Deej at 11:46 AM on July 17, 2013 [3 favorites]

6 was a result of 1-5. Cut down on those, and 6 isn't there anymore.
5 is just money. I'm sure it sucks, but its just money. Worst case scenario, you go without luxuries for a bit.
4 is the same. I notice you didn't say something like 'sick beloved pet': that's good. It's just money.
3 might be tricky. It also depends on 1. What's going on here? Can you give us an update from your previous askme? Did you take advice, or not take advice? What happened?
2 is a family problem. I notice you didnt mention health or money: good again. Family problems are usually just solved by love and patience. It might be tough, but you'll find out if you love someone as much as you want to, or if someone loves you as much as you want them to.

So everything seems bearable...just annoying. But what is up with 3 and 1? What's up with that?
posted by hal_c_on at 11:47 AM on July 17, 2013 [1 favorite]

Work on your nutrition. Inability to stop crying can be a nutritional deficiency. I think lack of certain B vitamins can promote that. I have a salt wasting condition. I get emotionally unstable when salt/mineral deficient (prone to hysteria, both "good" -- hysterical laughter -- and bad, unable to deal calmly with a crisis, etc). Stress events tend to leave you depleted. You need to eat better, take your vitamins, etc to get through this stuff. That is always part of the answer for me.
posted by Michele in California at 11:48 AM on July 17, 2013

I'm going through something like this myself, except that it's been a long, drawn-out affair (months).

One thing that I really found helpful was to go see a counselor. It's really helpful to have an unbiased, outside perspective on problems that may, to you, be perceived as huge and unmanageable. Even if you only go short-term (for a session or two), I think it would be worth it.
posted by alvin545 at 11:49 AM on July 17, 2013

Here is a link to a talk given by Jack Kornfield a while ago, about staying calm in the face of difficult issues. I find that just taking the time to listen to a talk by Jack or another one of the teachers associated with IMS can help me just break the crazy thought cycle that gets things all jumbled up.

Jack's voice is very calming and quiet, and his talks always have a great lightness. I love how he starts this one. It's kind of a modern way of quoting the Buddha, who said, eh, don't just listen to me, find out for yourself, all of this information is available to you.

Take good care.
posted by janey47 at 11:51 AM on July 17, 2013 [5 favorites]

6 - I fell over in the work lunch room and literally could NOT STOP CRYING for the rest of the day

A few weeks after I found out my mom had (really manageable, now completely in remission) cancer I was at a party. I fell asleep on the floor at one point, and when I woke up I started crying and couldn't stop. I couldn't even drive myself home because I was crying so hard.

I found a therapist and went in a couple days later. I just talked through some stuff, only went to six sessions over about a month and a half and at that point we both realized, hey, I've talked through this, I'm back on track now.

Might be something worth doing. Talking with a professional doesn't mean there's anything "wrong" with you. It's just a structured way of sorting out your stressors.

Things'll pick up. Spend some time just on you.
posted by phunniemee at 11:52 AM on July 17, 2013

I can help with 5.

Get a "Go" phone or similar from the selection offered by your carrier. Swap out your SimCard, and Voila!

I did this when Husbunny left his phone in his pants. In the laundry. And I washed them.

The phone itself was pretty cheap, $25, and swap-itty-do-dah, he was back in business.

So rather than calling customer service, and fooling around like that. Get a prepaid cell and swap out the card.

One out of 6 problems solved, you're 15% on your way to shoveling out.

Sending good thoughts your way!
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 11:54 AM on July 17, 2013 [3 favorites]

If catastrophizing or feeling uncontrollable/out of control is a problem for you right now, you may want to look into mindfulness.

Personally, I thought the meditation component was like, the most gauche, laughable, uncool thing ever, so I really had to let go of that and just give it an honest shot. I still find it fucking goofy, but damn if it isn't effective.

It isn't woo, and can help you regain perspective and control of your reactions.
posted by gohabsgo at 12:05 PM on July 17, 2013

I find it helps to give myself a project with absolutely no stakes and that I absolutely know I can do correctly. That might be making some cookies and bringing them to work (because who doesn't like the coworker who brings in cookies?) or sending silly cards to friends, or reading a couple of books on my "To Be Read Before I Die" pile. Anything that I can chalk up as a win against the things I've not gotten quite right or that seem to be conspiring against me.

A break is nice, but I'm a stewer. I stew over things when I'm not occupied enough.
posted by xingcat at 12:07 PM on July 17, 2013

I am 100% in favor of taking off for a weekend if you can, or even just a day. Mental health days are just as valid as sick days, IMHO. Take care of yourself, indulge in some guilt-free hedonistic pleasures and then come back with a new outlook. Offer your spouse the opportunity to do the same, either separately or together (because you mention family andmin-law problems, so I bet you are BOTH stressed out).

My iPhone* recently stopped getting Wi-Fi. I don't mean I have a bad signal or trouble getting reception, I mean that the Wi-fi option is literally greyed out on my phone and under settings it now says N/A. And like you, I am stressed about it, and after having done all the troubleshooting crap am dreading calling Apple only to be told I am SOL. And I have a lot of other crap going on as well, like we are renovating a house and and and...

So last weekend, when my husband and kids went to a baseball game and concert over in Tampa, even though I love family time, (but hate baseball) and normally would have sucked it up and gone, I basically just broke down and said I needed time alone. And they went off and did their thing. And it turns out they had a great time overall last weekend, but someone rear-ended them on the way to the game and though no one was hurt they ended up in a 5-car collision(!).

If I had gone, I would have been a total basket case. Instead, I enjoyed the peaceful, quiet, empty home, snuggled with the kitties, and got the break I needed, so that I could be supportive and empathetic when they came home.

TL;Dr: You need a break. So take a break!

*Oh, and what kind of phone was yours? Because someone here might even have a suggestion or an old phone that would work in the meantime.
posted by misha at 12:14 PM on July 17, 2013

If you can't take a day, or a weekend (I know I couldn't - I have neither the finances to travel to a spa for a weekend nor the ability to just hare off from my job whenever I please) just keep reminding yourself that you are eating the elephant, as per the old aphorism ("How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time."). Make the bites as small as you need to and don't let anyone force you into putting more on your fork than you feel you can take, and remember that any progress forward is better than no progress. You will have the time to finish your elephant.
posted by Nyx at 12:19 PM on July 17, 2013 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: So far, THANKS for the responses. Even just hearing all the good vibes coming my way is really helping!

As an update I have booked a massage for myself and the SO this saturday and I've arranged a Skype date with my best friend from home.

1,2 and 3 are quite personal and I'd rather not go into them here

4 - My poor little kitty looks likely to have a genetic condition which means she will have to have ALL of her teeth out :( I KNOW cats can live very happily without teeth but the thought of putting her through a major surgery PLUS the cost of it, has been weighing on me

5 - I have a "loaner" phone currently that I'm using but I need to return this today. After much angst with (the useless) Customer Service Team I've decided to just buy a new phone and be grateful that I can afford it.

I'm going to look into some of these other options when I get home. I think even venting helped get my mindset a little bit back on track!

And the "Eating the Elephant" analogy was just what I needed! Thanks Nyx... one small step at a time!
posted by JenThePro at 12:49 PM on July 17, 2013 [3 favorites]

Venting and a break can really be a lifesaver - I wish you lots of luck and a bit of relief soon.

But mostly I am weighing in due to your update to #4. In case hearing it one more time helps any: Cats can absolutely live very happily without teeth. Two of mine had stomatitis badly enough that tooth removal was the only way to control it. They were so, so much happier and more comfortable afterwards that my guilt over "oh god, what am I doing to my baby?" switched immediately to "oh god, why didn't I do this months ago?" I hope your kitty also gets relief so that can be one less thing on your mind. (The cost, yeah, sucks. But vets are really used to working out payment plans. It's worth asking about.)
posted by Stacey at 1:11 PM on July 17, 2013 [1 favorite]

A few suggestions:

* Have you been getting enough sleep? Oftentimes when I'm feeling like everything is overwhelming and I Can't Deal it means that I'm running a sleep deficit, and once I'm able to get a good night's sleep everything suddenly seems a lot more manageable (of course, it can be tricky if the stress is also contributing to your lack of sleep).

* Can you go outside for a while and unplug? Nature can help put things in perspective for me. Where I am we're in the middle of a heat wave so it's not the best time for that, but if you can, a hike, a swim, or a boat ride could give you the reboot you need.

* Someone suggested seeing a counselor for yourself; maybe in addition to that a couples counselor for 1 and 3?
posted by Asparagus at 1:16 PM on July 17, 2013

For me, escape is the trick. I escape into novels (particularly my old favorites, and particularly those I've read during good times, so the memories of those good times infuse the reading). I escape through humor, like watching The Daily Show or listening to David Sedaris. I escape by reading askmefi questions written by people with either weird and quirky questions, or far worse situations than mine. And when all else fails, I call my mother and cry and listen to her tell me how much she loves me. Still works in my mid-40s. (I should record one of these conversations so I'll always have it around.)
posted by Capri at 2:11 PM on July 17, 2013

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