Everyone needs some sort of balance in their lives. The balance between work and home life. The balance between goals and recreation. Few people realize that more acutely than people who live with neurodiversity, disability and/or chronic illness. When it comes to living with those challenges, the stakes are higher.
I spent many years in toxic environments, and they took their toll. Fortunately, I was able to find my way into a healthier situation. These are four key ways I muddled through those days and survived.
Consciously Finding Joy in the Moment
For me, this was the hardest thing to learn. I tend to get lost in the harder aspects of life, because that’s how I’d been conditioned by the culture in which I live. That was compounded by constant reinforcement of low self worth, due to constant mistakes I didn’t realize were directly caused by the environment’s influence on my dyslexia.
Somewhere along the line, I started carrying a small journal with me to record some more positive thoughts and feelings inspired by things around me.
For instance, during my monster commutes on public transportation, I’d watch the sky. When it’s clear, the shade of blue soothes me. When it’s cloudy, the changing shapes fire my imagination. To my surprise, when I concentrated on those things instead of the constant movie reel of misery playing in my head, my mood lifted, and I found light in the world again.
It took a long time for me to master this, but it still helps me today.
|I carried the Revel Without a Cause journal with me back then. The Daily Gratitudes journal is new.|
Support and Self Care
As helpful as that first technique is, I still needed support from time to time. In my case, that came from these things:
- Friends and family
- Spiritual beliefs
- Body work (chiropractic care, massage therapy)
- Proper nutrition
For many people, this could also mean finding a good mental health professional to talk to. Medication helped my husband and many others, though it’s not for me. Unfortunately, mental health care is still heavily stigmatized, but it has been vital for countless people.
We all need help sometimes, and there’s never any shame in asking. Similarly, self care is not selfish; it’s survival.
One of the hardest times in my life was probably shortly after my husband was diagnosed with his mood disorder and had to go on disability. I was in a very low paying job at the time, we had just bought a house and we had no idea of how to go about the new world of mental health care.
At about 23, I was faced with maintaining the house alone, making sure all the bills were paid, we had enough money for food, finding a new job and caring for another adult who couldn’t really care for himself. Thankfully, our families were huge helps, but there was still an incredible amount of weight on my shoulders.
It was then that I learned the value of prioritizing. In the grand scheme of things, keeping a tidy house or going out wasn’t nearly as important as finding a job and paying off the bills that kept rolling in. My basic needs, like eating and sleeping, surpassed the writing I was doing at the time and superficial relationships.
Once I separated all of my responsibilities, broke them down into steps and ordered them by importance, I was finally able to get my head above water again. Eventually, my husband did get a handle on his disorder, and I was able to start living my life again.
|I did actually have to make sleeping a priority at different points in my life.
Via one of my articles on HubPages
Realize Nothing’s Forever
As hard as it may be to believe in the moment, no situation is permanent. Once I started to get my life a bit more in order, I was finally able to see that. The touchy situation I was in couldn’t last forever.
It could either get better or much worse, and it was up to me to decide which way to go. That’s as true now as it was then. It’s the nature of life.
However, that fact can still be difficult to keep in mind, especially when you feel powerless in the face of circumstance. I’ve been there, as well. At the very least, I realized I had control over my reactions to what was going on, even if I had no control over the events themselves.
When I put these four elements together, I discovered that I was able to focus more closely on building the life I want and that my dyslexic strengths finally took the stage from my dyslexic struggles.
All of that said, though, remember that these basic things worked for me. Since I’m not all people, they wouldn’t work for everyone. It’s up to each of us to discover what helps us survive as individuals, but there’s no harm in sharing techniques that have worked for us.