It seems as though every day we are hit with a new struggle. Sometimes it is life’s little things such as the craziness of dealing with young children or a difficult boss and other times it is the big things, such as a serious illness or job loss. Even the positive things in life can be a big struggle such as a pregnancy or a job promotion. No matter whether it is a happy or difficult change, change is still tough for most people while they adjust and learn how to function appropriately with the new facts of life. This is becoming a big reality for many people now with the state of the economy as it is, especially in Florida’s Space Coast where I live, because of the changes in the space program. For that reason I was asked to talk to a group of moms today on this very subject. I thought it was such an important topic that I decided that I would like to share it with more than the 30 or so moms that I talked with today, especially since these are the reasons that most people walk through the door for counseling.
You probably already know everything I am about to say either consciously or unconsciously. It is not hard to understand but it is easy to forget, especially when you are the person dealing with the loss of a loved one or not knowing where your child’s next meal is going to come from. As I stated earlier, all changes have the potential to create stress and this stress can multiply as you try to figure out how to cope. If you are having a difficult time coping, the effects can roll over into other parts of your life, causing waves that grow increasingly bigger until you feel as though you are drowning under the intense pressure of a tidal wave. For some people you may not see a big difference, others begin experiencing symptoms of anxiety, depression or what could even look like Posttraumatic Stress Disorder.
In this first entry, I would like to help you understand what this looks like so you are better able to identify how life transitions impact us and those around us. One woman came to me after an immediate family member died. She had been trying to deal with the effects of the death on her own and found herself to be overwhelmed. Due to her emotional reaction to the death she was unable to work, was arguing frequently with her spouse, felt isolated from her friends and like no one understood or cared for her, and no longer even felt as though she knew herself. She was unsure of how to proceed with life after this death. It was hard enough for her to be dealing with the grief over her loss but then to have to deal with the uncertainty in other parts of her life such as work and her marriage was just more than she could handle on her own and she began to feel depressed.
Another woman came to me for counseling about a year after her son was born. She was trying to adjust to all the changes that come with being a mom and taking care of someone else while also moving to new areas twice during that time. She lacked support, connections with others, and a sense of who she was as she adjusted to motherhood and what that meant for her. She loved her son dearly but she began to feel overwhelmed by the changes and her stress manifested itself into anxiety over something happening to him or to another family member. She expressed that she would experience “breakdowns” for a few days at a time and be unable to care for herself or her child.
Now that you have an idea of the effect life changes can have on an individual and what it can look like in real life situations, in the next few entries I will discuss ways in which you can work to combat the negative effects of both positive and difficult life changes. So don’t forget to check back next week!