Lives are BUSY, CHAOTIC and at times so overwhelming it takes your breath away. The experiences of life, especially those hard- hitting ones, can have your knees buckle. Hearing stories from families over 24 years faced with overwhelming situations, it is amazing how many have rebounded and decided to use their experience to help others. Hearing from those who have walked a similar path gives you hope, relief you are not alone and you can learn from their experiences.
The one thing that was said to me stuck in my mind when our life was turned upside down with mental illness was being referred to a lady who lives with mental illness and raising children with mental illness SAID…. TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF. This is not what I wanted to hear!!I wanted to hear how to fix my child and get rid of the pain I was feeling. My emotions were triggered with desperation to know what to do and TAKING CARE OF MYSELF was not on my agenda.
Three things had me aware of what made a positive impact us to have a positive outcome:
1. when told to call a lady with lived experience, I did immediately
2. even though I did not want to hear Take Care of Yourself, I listened to her why it was important… you can’t help others if you don’t help yourself first
3. you can be triggered with specific words and those triggers are the areas that you need to work on.
Being aware of these triggers is the clue of what you need to change. When you are triggered, ask yourself, “What is the reason this is triggering me?” and then ask yourself “what can I do different so I am not triggered?” If you choose to ignore questions you may find yourself still dealing with chaos and feeling overwhelmed. For example, I was talking to an individual who said to me “you are trying to change me, and I am not going to change”. I replied ‘no, I was not trying to change [her]’. That fueled the situation even more. The word change was a trigger and I reacted by defending my case. Realizing that I was trying to defend myself, I changed the way I responded. I said “it is your choice if you want to make changes..” It was amazing how the tone changed to her saying ‘I will think about it’. What happened was I handed her the control of making her own choice. The other way of reacting to the situation made her feel she was being controlled and she fought back harder. Lessons to remember.
The point is: be aware of how others are reacting to what you say. You may have to change your response, listen more to what is being said and reflect back what heard so they feel heard. If you are triggered by what someone says, ask for clarification and ask yourself those two questions suggested above. You will be amazed at how you can turn a turbulent situation around to a more calming situation. Why, because you took control of what you can be in control of – YOU.
When something triggers me, I treat it is as something I need to look at. Even though it is uncomfortable, I do realize how these moments have taught me so much. I am grateful I worked through the challenges, triggers and emotional moments. Why? Today I have the tools at my finger tips to use whenever those overwhelming, challenging times appear. They feel comfortable to use rather than the times I felt uncomfortable changing.
I am so grateful for the people in my life who have stood by our family and were there for us whenever we reached out for help. I know now, these incidents landed at our door step for a reason. They were the lessons to teach us how to approach situations more calmly, consistently and confidently to mend our ways and relationships. I have reflected on our journey many times and smile thinking how change was not easy however worth it.
The changes made years ago impacted our family to have relationships in tact today. Change what is not working today to have a positive outcome tomorrow and the future.