I didn’t realize it at the time, but 2015 may have been my worst year ever.
In a nutshell, I lost in very short succession my father, my job and a relationship with someone I thought would always be in my life.
On top of this, I was juggling the demands of being a mother to a six-year-old and a newborn who didn’t sleep through the night until he was close to a year old. While there were periods of happiness during that tumultuous year, it isn’t something I would ever choose to repeat again.
Although hitting bottom is something that many fear and hope to avoid, the truth is at some point most of us will experience it. It’s also possible that some won’t even be aware that they have done so until after it passes.
I’m the first to admit that hitting bottom isn’t fun, but there is a upside I never knew existed. Namely, once it passes, we feel that we can handle anything from here on out.
However, those first steps can be challenging, and sometimes taking the first step is the hardest.
Therefore, the question remains, How do we pick ourselves up after hitting rock bottom?
While each person and situation is different, below are some things that helped me pick up the pieces after my world fell apart. I wish no one ever needed to use these tips, but it’s good to keep them in mind just in case.
1. Admit that we are at bottom.
All too often, then there is a tendency for many—especially women—to deny we’ve hit bottom. It’s not that bad! or, Things could be a lot worse! were my mantras for a long time. It wasn’t until a friend and I had a heart-to-heart that I allowed myself to admit that things really were bad, and frankly, I could not imagine them getting worse. While it was tough at first to admit, it was also oddly liberating to admit it. This allowed me to do number two.
2. Take the time to mourn, and don’t think mourning only comes in one form.
While mourning tends to automatically conjure up images of grief and sorrow, mourning isn’t limited to those emotions. I was surprised to learn just how much anger and rage accompanied my period of mourning. For example, I wasn’t just angry at the universe that my father died, but also felt a shocking amount of anger toward him for not being the father I needed or wanted while he was alive. At first, I felt ashamed and guilty at having those feelings, but looking back, I realize they were normal and needed to be expressed in order to get through the grieving process.
3. Get help.
Help comes in many forms. It may be professional, or it may come from reaching out to those around us or even finding a way to channel our sadness or anger into something else. It’s possible that some of us may need or want all three.
If we feel like we aren’t getting the help we need, we shouldn’t be afraid to ask for it. More often than not, it’s there even if we aren’t aware of it.
4. Acknowledge this period of time once it passes.
They say time heals all wounds, but sometimes the passage of time has a way of making us forget or downplay things. Sometimes it’s a pride thing that makes us minimize the hard times in the past. “It wasn’t that bad now that I look back,” is a common expression, and while sometimes it may be true, sometimes it isn’t. When it happened, it may have been “that bad,” or even worse.
In any case, it is important to acknowledge what actually happened and not try to brush it aside. There truly is nothing wrong with saying, “It was indeed a hard time—perhaps even the worst time I ever experienced.”
In closing, hitting bottom probably isn’t something that most of us would chose, but like many things in life, things happen beyond our control and we cannot prevent them.
However, we do have some choice in how we react.
If you happen to hit bottom, the most important thing to remember is that it probably isn’t the end of the world and the odds are in your favor that you will survive and perhaps even emerge as a stronger person because of it.
Author: Kimberly Lo
Editor: Toby Israel
Image: Volkan Olmez/Unsplash