It’s been months. You’ve been tired, agitated, on the verge of tears with every conversation; and perhaps you have even begun contemplating what life would look like if you weren’t around. It’s been months of pain and agony, and now you’ve finally decided that it might be time to ask for a hand. You made the phone call, set up the appointment, and now you’re waiting. Your sitting in the waiting room wondering if this was a good idea. “Surely my problems aren’t that bad” you tell yourself. “What do I have to be depressed about?” “I was just overreacting, everything is fine.” Thoughts like this start running through your mind as you rationalize reasons to leave. You want to leave because being in the middle, being in the thick of the jungle, sitting in the waiting room is scary and can feel hopeless.
The experience of being in the waiting room is reoccurring, and bubbles to the surface with every new transition life presents. From the glory of becoming a parent, to the despair of losing a loved one, the middle, the waiting room, is the where our tenacity is tested. The euphoria of a new romance has subsided and now the reality of dirty towels and mortgages payments has set in. The visitors have left, along with their well wishes of comfort and support for your loss; now the silence, now the empty space. It is in this space that one may become lost, confused, and searching for answers on how to get to the other side of this equation.
“Sink or swim”. We’ve all heard this speech or some form of it. Either you keep moving forward or you will exhaust yourself into sinking into an abyss of suffering. But what if swimming feels impossible? What if moving forward is more than you can fathom? How do you move past the place where there is no option to turn back and no view of the future? You don’t. Not on your own. It’s at this time that you send out the flares. You send for help. No matter the circumstances, there is no shame in asking for someone to point you in the right direction.
It is in the middle that we need support. We need someone to help us remember why we need to keep swimming and how to stay strong when hopelessness looms. At the other side of the waiting room sits someone ready to help you strategize.
Developing a plan with your therapist is your first line of defense. It is not an answer to all your problems, or a quick fix by any means. It is a road map to help guide you along your journey as you make your way through the middle and towards the next phase of life.
What has worked in the past? Have there been circumstances or times in your life that have felt similar to what you are experiencing now? How did you get through? What worked and what was unhelpful?
What are your current habits? What do you do when things get bad, and who do you turn to? Developing a list of helpful habits and supportive friends and family is an essential part of your plan. There will be times that you feel down or maybe even worse, knowing who to turn to and what activities/behaviors to engage in will help you stay on course as you move from one moment to the next.
And speaking of resources….
Resources in the community are available when needed. Support groups, crisis centers, and mental health facilities are there for you and your loved ones.
The feelings of hopelessness and despair linger when we’ve run out of ideas. Therapy can provide you a fresh perspective and a place to develop a map and survival tools as you navigate this journey. As you sit in the waiting room breath through the uncertainty and allow yourself the space, time, [and help] necessary to move forward.