“Leesa what do you say when a person says ‘what am I going to do…I can’t go on’?”
This was a question my friend asked me recently. And it’s a question I’ve been asked many a time. My answer?
“You tell them to breathe. And you breathe with them as they do.”
“Yeah. Tell them to breathe.”
“What the on earth do you mean?”
“I mean tell them to BREATHE.”
Okay I know it sounds like simplistic crap but hang in there with me. I’ve got twenty-four years of psych nursing under my belt, several bits of University paper and some serious life experience. I know what works and oh lordy lordy do I know what doesn’t work!
When a person says they ‘can’t go on’ they are saying that they are overwhelmed.
Eventually in therapy we will be able to deconstruct all that has led to overwhelmed. We will discover the causes of such powerlessness, we will heal the wounds and develop new skills so this doesn’t happen. And YES, for ALL folk EVERYWHERE this IS possible.
But none of that is possible in the moment when a person’s feeling desperate, but…thank god… none of that actually needs to happen right now anyway.
The only thing that counts right now…right in this desperate moment…is that we breathe. And we breathe together.
Later we might need to drink, to eat, to talk, to do lots of things. But right now…let’s breathe.
Later we might want to…I don’t know…take a little step.
But for now…let’s just breathe.
Our minds can become desperately overwhelmed by problems…real and perceived. The problems attach themselves to the ferris wheel of our mind and as stressors come along the speed of the ferris wheel is increased. It’s hardly any wonder then that we can develop a sense of desperation as to how we are going to cope.
Now the thing is, many a kind-hearted folk avoid helping another because they are so fearful that either they don’t know what to say or they’ll say the wrong thing. Fortunately, you are not required to come up with anything brilliant and profound :).
In the very moment…
in the right now…
the best help you can give a loved one or a stranger (that should be a loved one) is a steadying hand.
A hand that doesn’t try to find a solution immediately because that’s impossible…
A hand that doesn’t offer the ‘standard’ comments because they simply don’t work when a person is feeling this bad…
A hand that does offer to be there…however long it takes…
A hand that does transmit that they are not alone.
And now…let’s breathe
My next post will be about Charlie. He and I worked together to enable him to conquer his panic attacks. By staring at a tree.