Friday, April 10, 2009


We’ve all got something—a disease, a condition, an emotional upset, financial difficulties, an ailment of some kind. And we all have our ways of managing that thing that is poisoning our lives, from advanced medical therapies to whining out loud to friends and family (and anyone else who will listen) to just suffering in silence, hoping that things will improve.

When I was younger, when things seemed bleak I used to wish I could just go to sleep for a few months, until whatever was troubling me was past. I remember reading a fairy tale about a princess who went to sleep when she was eight years old and woke up when she was twelve—the first thing she did was run to the piano and play a tune she had learned while she was asleep, when she also developed fluency in several languages. She slept through the entire learning process. If only we could do that (selectively of course, as I love the process of learning new things), so we could get through hard times more easily.

Since I can’t just take a really long nap, I have come to accept these principles for getting through difficult times, no matter the cause of the hardship:
  • Recovery has no set timetable. It takes as much time as it takes. Make no apologies.

  • Even though other people may think that it’s time for you to move on, until you’re ready to or your condition has improved, you can’t. So don’t worry about what other people think (although you might consider taking pity on your closest friends and bring the whining down a bit—it’s hard for them to keep biting their tongues).

  • Try not to let things fester: this goes for infected cuts and old resentments.

  • If there is help available, take advantage of it.

  • If you’ve done everything you can think of to remedy the problem and nothing is working, just stop. Rest. Try to be patient.

  • Sometimes you have to fully surrender to a problem before it can be resolved. That doesn’t mean giving up, it means accepting that what is, is.

  • Get clear on the true definition of the problem. Sometimes you think you’re struggling with one thing then it turns out, when you really examine it, that it’s about something else entirely.

  • Manage the symptoms, treat the disease.

  • Sometimes the answer is “better living through chemistry.” This applies to cancer drugs, antidepressants, HRT, acne lotion, foot fungus powder, and wart remover, among other things. No shame in that.

  • It’s not your fault. No doubt you are doing your best to overcome the problem.

  • Don’t be ashamed. True, someone else might manage the situation more efficiently, more privately, with less sturm und drang. But they’re not walking in your shoes, living your life, managing your demons. No one from the outside can accurately assess and understand what is going on inside you—and besides, it’s really none of their business.

  • Avoid people who are openly unsupportive or critical of the way you’re handling things. They will only make you feel worse about everything, including yourself.

  • You probably can’t think your way out. Most of the time the only way out is through, so do your level best to suck it up and soldier on.

  • And this too shall pass.


Kathleen Dames said...

Thanks for the reminder, Edie.

lucyfree said...

Well-written and kind. thanks, Edie.

Jeff said...

It is just this wonderful insight that was my inspiration! Thanks, Edie.