When the Layers of Fear Collide
by Craig Booker
My Big Break
I distinctly recall sitting in the midst of my fear and wondering how did I end up here? In the time leading up to my big break, the day when my body refused to cope with any more fear, I was completely oblivious to all the warning signs. For many, there might be a time when all of the layers of fear come together and you are no longer able to stand on your own. A time when your body might tell you it cannot do this anymore. We all deal with fear on a daily basis at so many different levels, so it is easy to see why we do not see this coming.
I believe this looks somewhat different for each person, but I also believe there some common threads which we can learn from. Here I will share my story to help others who might be going through something similar.
What Got You Here?
As I sit and examine what I wish I would have known prior to my big break, I cannot imagine how things might be different, if only I understood these few bits of wisdom. If I look back at the factors which lead up to my big break, these are the ones I would identify as major life events which I ignored. I was newly married, head-over-heels in love. Adjusting to married life is full of joys and challenges. Prior to getting married, I had never lived on my own. I really did not understand many of the basic things that adults go through. And like many of my peers, I was trying desperately to get my career off the ground. Oh, in the middle of all of this I was trying to finish my bachelors degree. All-the while, I got laid-off from my first "real job."
It All Adds Up
All of these major life transitions add up. When you talk to an expert on stress, they will often speak of different types of major life events which cause great stress for many people. They will discuss the weight of the types of events and the ability of adults to cope with such events. I had all of these new stress-filled transitions going on all at once and I was doing nothing to help myself adjust.
My body was stress-filled and I kept up with my same routine. There were lots of thing I could have done to help my body cope. I could have started taking walks to reduce stress and get myself out of the house. My friends were at different places in their lives and I was largely trying to do this alone. Big mistake! I got laid-off and I did nothing to help myself process that major life event. Relfecting back, counseling would have been a wise choice. So there were all of these layers of life events, of trauma and stress which I largely ignored.
Listen to what your body is or might be trying to tell you. I can look back now and see the signs written on the wall. My body was doing all it could to tell me, but I was not listening.
Refuse to Power Through
When all of the layers of fear begin to collide, when it all starts to seem like much, whatever you do, do not just "Power Through." This is totally a classic guy move, but I know there are ladies who approach things this way as well. Whatever you do, do NOT simply power your way through this on your own. Enlist the help of friends, family, coworkers, and a professional counselor.
Your Spouse Is Not Your Savior
If you are married, you might be tempted to play the spouse card here. Do not put all of the weight of detecting these issues on your spouse. You need to enlist others whom you trust to speak into your life. Relying on your spouse to be your savior is not healthy. Close relationships are complicated and you can not always place the burden of speaking up on your partner. Friends have less to lose in confronting another friend. Friends can speak into areas where spouses might not feel comfortable or able.
My big takeaway from all of this is to not ignore major life events. Give them the space, resources, and the help you need to deal with them. Our daily habits are often good indicators of our mental health. Keep an eye on your habits. Habits that got you into this mess, won't get you out. When you or your friends recognize a major life event, unhealthy habit, or a lack of support system, it is time to make some changes.
I hope all of this brings to light what can happen when we do not take proper care of ourselves or our fear.