When the Going Gets Tough, Everything Else Becomes Irrelevant

All those moments of big changes in life, successes, failures, moves, births, deaths, etc … are always bittersweet and somewhat depressing for me. Even the really really really good stuff can get me down.

No, I’m not a pessimist by nature. I don’t thrive on the macabre.

For a long time, the depression puzzled me. We’d sit there at Christmas, unwrap more gifts than some people get in a lifetime, and I’d be on the verge of tears. I win a writing contest and for a week I can’t write a thing and feel like destroying everything I’ve ever written before then.

Someone once told me I was afraid of success. I thought they were nuts. Then I thought about it some more and thought maybe they were right. Which just depressed me even more and made me quit trying. I figured I’d just sabotage myself.

But the older I’ve gotten, the more I realize that’s not it. For me, the depression is simply the normal reaction to a big change in life.

I mean, it would be great if we could sail on forever in the glory of our big successes and let them empower us to new heights. But, the reality is, when we have a big change of any kind in our lives, we momentarily become blind to everything else in our world. Whatever that moment is becomes so intense it occupies every thought, every action, every emotion and leaves us with nothing to give to anything else.

For whatever period of time we are engaged in that big change, all the little stuff of life that keeps us sane disappears making it impossible to transfer all the momentum.

And it’s a good thing too.

I’m sure somewhere in our psyche we installed a mechanism to help us cope with tragedy and not become overwhelmed by it. But our bodies can’t tell if that adrenaline rush is caused by fear or happiness, by utter disappointment or sheer joy, by losing a loved one or winning the lottery. Our bodies just know that we’ve had a rush of adrenaline and it needs to respond.

Sometimes I think that psychologists and counselors and doctors forget that our emotional self is based on our physical being. They like to complicate things. They like to explain everything in terms of their profession, by listing symptoms only or emotions only.

If only someone would see they are both part of one human being … and keep in mind that the easiest and best explanation for anything that happens, is usually the simplest as well.

When something big happens, the adrenaline rush shuts down everything except what I need to survive for that period of time. I become focused on a single task and everything else fades away.

But when the world comes crashing back in, I’m suddenly faced with ten or twenty or forty tasks again instead of just the one. I become overwhelmed, like a baby at a fireworks show. I need time to adjust to the new world around me.

And that’s okay. Because being human … is okay by me.



One thought on “When the Going Gets Tough, Everything Else Becomes Irrelevant

  1. Thank you for this post. I know exactly how you feel. EXACTLY. For years, I believed I was afraid of success and that’s what held me back for so long. It makes perfect sense that it’s not about the success, but about CHANGE. I can handle change. I’ve had a lot of changes in the last few years, and I have several more coming up. I just don’t enjoy the rollercoaster ride from hell that goes along with it. Although, I have to admit that I’m getting better at it. That’s a nice thing to realize.

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