By Go-getter Gaithri Raj, who writes about health and wellness issues for GGTW
During one of my more challenging life experiences, I found myself overwhelmed with multiple, life-altering medical decisions and being a caregiver for a family member, all while starting a new position with additional responsibilities and 50% more travel.
I struggled to balance meeting all those demands, and everything felt like it was caving in around me. I found myself sleeping less, working more, and constantly in crisis-mode. I focused simply on surviving, and definitely was not practicing any self-care. I was mentally paralyzed by all the chaos that suddenly showed up in my life, and my mind seemed to be going blank. That’s when I happened to be at my former field office for work and my previous supervisor casually asked, “Hey, how’s it going?”
Uuuuuuh. Hmmmmmm. The mental fog kicked in.
Instead of blowing me off, though, the gracious woman noticed I was slow to answer, and she took the time to start a conversation. A REAL conversation in which she really listened to what was going on in my life and offered guidance. She kept telling me to take things one day at a time. “That’s all you or anyone can do, Gaithri. Just one day at a time.”
In the moment, that statement didn’t make the most sense to me and honestly felt a bit like an old cliché, a platitude that people say to someone who’s struggling. “I’ve seen that mug,” I heard my cynical self say to myself at the time. Yet, because I knew she was speaking from solid experience of having to care for her own family members and dealing with life’s challenges, I processed our conversation until I understood fully what she meant. I decided to practice what she suggested.
Using “One Day at a Time” as my guide stone, I began to create plans to deal with all the chaos around me. Each morning, I took a deep breath and started prioritizing my crises based on what I could do (and had control over) for that ONE day.
As it turned out, my former supervisor was 100% right. Soon enough, I found myself slowly realizing that I was getting through the challenges each day, and not drowning in them like before. The days added up, and eventually, the crises had passed and I had survived.
“One day at a time” really was the best advice I could have received during a phase of my life when I felt like the world was collapsing around me. But more importantly, I know that even today, almost a decade after that initial conversation, those words still hold true. Time and again, when I’ve faced something difficult or challenging, I’ve said, “I’ve got a plan for dealing with this! I’ll take it one day at a time.” And I’ve made it through to the other side. So can you! Just take it One Day at a Time.
We at Go Get The World hope that you have someone like Gaithri’s former supervisor who helped guide her through a difficult time. But if you don’t, find help somewhere. We list some resources below. And if you see someone who isn’t acting the same as usual, check in on them, like Gaithri’s colleague did. It made all the difference in the world to her.
- If you are in crisis, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or contact the Crisis Text Line by texting TALK to 741741.
- If you are a veteran in crisis or are concerned about a veteran, call the Veterans Crisis Line at 1-800-273-8255 and press 1, text to 838255, or connect via online chat.
- The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is a national network of local crisis centers that provides free and confidential emotional support to people in suicidal crisis or emotional distress 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Visit the website to learn more about mental health issues and suicide.
- The Trevor Project is a national organization providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) young people ages 13-24.
- The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has a National Helpline that’s a free, confidential, 24/7, 365-day-a-year treatment referral and information service (in English and Spanish) for individuals and families facing mental and/or substance use disorders.
- Call your primary care doctor or the local mental health authority for assistance in dealing with your crisis. Don’t take it on alone.
- Be the one who asks the real questions and listens to the answers when you see someone who is going through difficulties.