Let me tell you a story of dealing with everyone else’s problems but my own.
We all have some sort of instinct to help each other (some more than others apparently). Well one thing I notice is when you are depressed or struggling, it can either go one of two ways. We either ignore all of our problems and concentrate on helping everyone and everything unrelated to the issues we have at the time, or we go in the complete opposite direction; we ignore everyone else and their problems in a desperate attempt to sort through our own problem in a reasonable fashion.
Unfortunately I found I am the first one.
When Riley died I didn’t want to deal with that. That was in the too hard basket, and there it would stay. So I helped other people. My depressed friend who couldn’t get himself out of the slump. My friends who were moving, babysitting, etc., anything to help other people so I didn’t have to sort my own problems out. It got so incredibly out of hand. There were days when I did forget out my problems, when I spent the whole day helping one person or another. But that meant when I went to bed I remembered them all. I knew I had to deal with these things, but I would say I was too tired from doing other things, and I would do it tomorrow.
I remember so many mental breakdowns about not being able to help different people. They were so bad, I felt like I was failing everyone.
Till one day I talked to one of my friends. He was thrown a curveball when one time I decided to talk about my problems with him. But as per usual, I then talked to him about my friend’s problems as well. He told me that I couldn’t deal with this on my own – he told me my friend needed to seek professional help, and he told me to concentrate on helping myself. He also made otter puns to cheer me up (good lad).
So with his help, I distanced myself from some of my higher maintenance friends. Told them I couldn’t do this anymore, I couldn’t handle the stress of helping everyone. Told them I needed some time for me, myself and I.
It nice to be able to help people when you can, but this should not come at the cost of your own health and well-being. Don’t make the same mistake as I did. My friend’s self-harm turned into my own suicidal thoughts.
So why do we help others?
A solid couple of reasons why we help each other: firstly, it’s basic human nature. They say that there is no truly unselfish favour; everything you do is to help yourself, but that’s okay. We just need to feel needed, it makes us feel more capable than the person we are helping (me, whenever I open a jar for someone) and it helps us to ignore our own issues.
Unfortunately there is only so long you can ignore your problems, its like the line the villain says in every movie ever. “You can run, but you can’t hide”. You can’t hide from your problems, they stay. People say time heals all wounds; first of all, bullshit. Time will heal a lot of physical wounds, sure, but mental wounds don’t heal so to speak, they just become more bearable. And second, you still have to work at it. If you leave a dish in a sink to soak it doesn’t magically become clean (unless you have super awesome flatmates) instead it makes it easier to clean with time but you still have actually put in the elbow grease and clean that dish all by yourself!
Tips on trying to organise your life.
Take baby steps. You don’t have to just randomly one day have everything sorted, done and dusted. Take your time, sort things as you can, but do try and push yourself a little.
Make lists of things you need to do and physically cross them off. It gives you a sense of achievement, crossing them off will show you how much you have already done in a day.
Delegate. All these people around you asking if you need any help. The answer is Yes. Yes you do. If people are so keen to come check on you, make them help with the dishes, dinner, washing etc. It is so exhausting entertaining people when you are already emotionally drained so don’t panic if you need help during/after that.
Don’t be afraid to get professional help. Therapists and/or life coaches. These people are literally paid to be helpful and get you through the tough times. Plus they are contracted by law not to gossip.
Don’t do this on your own, we are social creatures, we were made to work together, it’s in our DNA. Get help and pull through.
Always so good with children….