Surviving Your Rough Patch In Life

TW: Please note this article uses curse words and can be triggering as it dives deep into sensitive topics around self-esteem, mental health, and trauma. 

Have you ever gone through a rough patch? A time when everything you seemed to touch went to shit no matter what you did? A time, that in the moment, caused you so much considerable emotional pain that you, for maybe the first time ever, considered ending it all? Giving up!

Life is filled with many ups and downs. We face challenges every day, that test our resolve, our self-esteem, and our values. When things are going smoothly we hardly ever think about the ugliness out there. But when we hit that bump in the road, and then another bump. and another, suddenly all we see is ugly. Everything seems bad. 

rough patchPerfection on the Outside, Pain on the Inside

On the outside you look strong and fearless. People come to you with their problems but if you have something going on, magically these same people disappear. You’re lone wolf, someone who knows what they want and how to get it, and yet you have vulnerabilities and insecurities that people don’t see. 

So when you hit a low patch you don’t have anyone whom you can turn to. Worse yet, you’ve reached out to others, but they are caught up in their own lives and are not supportive of your needs. So you give up asking, and instead put your head down and just try to survive. 

This steely resolve is not so bad when you hit minor bumps in the road. You can easily laugh off that mistake at work or forgetting to pay that bill so now you owe double. These things aren’t a huge deal. Therefore they’re easy to shake off.

But then you hit a rough patch. A patch of time where nothing is going as planned. In the beginning you have a positive attitude, hopeful that this trying time will pass. Yet as time moves along and things don’t improve, you fall deeper and deeper into despair. You try to reach out to your support network, but you feel like they don’t understand. They sing platitudes about how things will get better and talk about how amazing you are, but you’re scared. Your focus shifts to survival only, and you want nothing better than to escape the pain. The pain of your current life circumstances and fear that there is no end in sight. 

So you turn more inward, focused on protecting yourself at all costs. You close yourself off from others and focus on that one thing you can control. You listen to your heart and your gut, knowing it’s never steered you wrong before. You wake up in the morning, still exhausted from restless sleep the night before, and put one foot in front of the other. You don’t have a choice. It’s a painful part of your life, where you feel utterly alone and it seems like it will be like this forever. 

You may even reflect on your past and see a pattern where you fall down the rabbit hole of despair and everything you’ve worked hard for evaporates. It’s replaced by the scared child from your past. Who had to fight for everything, always felt worthless in comparison to others, and didn’t have a place where you belonged. Destructive patterns take shape as you try to cope and make the pain go away. 

When Enough Is Enough

After weeks, months, or for some even years of living in this type of despair and loneliness things slowly begin to turn around (because really nothing lasts forever). As things begin to look up you feel a sense of relief. You made it through and you take some time to cry.  You cry for the time you lost. Cry for the pain you experienced all alone. You cry because at the time you were in pain the tears wouldn’t come, almost like if you let the dam break, you would never be able to put yourself back together. So you let the tears flow now, washing away the pain of the past, but never truly forgetting.

You’re a survivor through in and through. You look back and realize how much you endured and you are proud of yourself for coming through it. For not giving up and ending it all. As cliche as it sounds you learned a lot from this trying time and you know that if it happens again you will be prepared for it. But you resolve to not making sure you protect yourself from letting this happen again. 

With the ending of the rough patch, you buckle up and start working on your yourself, your goals. You feel more like your old but with a new attitude and steely resolve.

So How Do You Survive These Tough Times

Tip #1 Take a hard look at the people in your life. Not all people are good people, for you. It’s not a question of character but a question of how you gel together. As you take a look at your support network you realize that some people are actually good at being supportive while others are not. You then make the choice to say goodbye to those who are not supportive and you double down and connect with the ones who are.

Tip #2 Save for a rainy day. Most people think of this line as it relates to money, but actually rough patches go beyond the financial. They can include problems at work with coworkers, loss of a romantic partner, death and more. So when you save for a rainy day, you’re not just saving your money but you’re saving your time. You’re putting aside time (daily is the best, but weekly would be just as good) to do things that make you feel rejuvenated not more exhausted. This can be reading a trashy novel, taking up an activity like rock climbing, or taking a nice long walk while listening to music. Take time to do something that makes you feel happy in the moment, you will be better for it.

Tip #3 Forgive yourself. When you hit a rough patch you go spiraling down a rabbit hole of despair which causes you to question everything about who you thought you were and how far you have come. When we are in these stress filled moments our brains default to self protection mode and our conscious thinking goes offline. So it’s normal that you fall back into old patterns picked up from childhood which served to protect you from the traumas you endured then. So forgive yourself if this is something that happened to you. It doesn’t mean the work you put in to change and do things better is eliminated because you fell back into old patterns. You’re a survivor and you have come out on top better resourced to handle the lows when they happen again. Because you’ve had this experience you can now see it coming before it hits and take care to intervene before you fall into complete darkness. 

Conclusion:

I want you to know that many people face hard times and have feelings like this, where they feel like there is only one way out. In these moments our self-esteem takes a hit, we feel like things will be bad forever, and we question all past, present, and future decisions. Our focus turns to emotional and physical protection. Despite these terrible feelings, I want to tell you that things will get better. You have what it takes to overcome these painful times and despite feeling like your support network doesn’t have your back there are people who do. There are professionals, support groups and even that one person in your inner circle who truly understands.

So don’t give up, and use the tips above to get your through your rough patch. You are worth it. 

If you are having a rough patch or someone you love is stuck in a rough patch, feeling like there is no way out, please consider reaching out to a mental health professional. Don’t continue to fight and suffer alone, click here to schedule your first session with me to get started.

These are just a few strategies, tips, and recommendations! I hope you found this post helpful! I’d love to hear from you in the comment section!

Thank you for taking the time to read. Remember sharing is caring, so share if you found this helpful!

Until we connect again,

Jessica

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Jessica Lang

Jessica Lang

Hi I'm Jessica and I am a licensed therapist specializing in treating sexual abuse and other traumas. Whether you are pregnant survivor, a parent of a survivor or an adult survivor of sexual abuse or complex trauma I am here to support you on your healing so you can love yourself, find your empowered voice, and have the relationships you desire.

1 Comment

  1. Hazell on December 14, 2020 at 1:50 am

    Hello Jessica, you have no idea how relief I am after reading this blog. Thank you for being an outlet especially to us who are struggling day by day. May you continue to inspire and encourage others with your words. God bless!

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