Dear Dr. Gary
I am in control of my diabetes. My question is, what do you do when everything that can possibly happen happens, and none of it is good? Right now I feel like I have a target on my back. I handle one thing and days later something else happens. I am so tired of saying “next” that I could scream, because the things that happen come out of the blue. For example, we finally got the heat fixed and Thursday night the power went out. We have been dealing with that.
We now have temporary power until Tuesday. I can't stop thinking what is going to happen next. The police department where I work is changing rapidly. Each of the nine of us have a major, sergeant, lieutenant colonel and the police commissioner coming at us trying to make changes and needing our input. I just got put on an interview panel; we have a new community project in each district that is exciting but is going to take at least 20 more days to complete.
I finally told my major and sergeant I need a break. I could not take it anymore. I was so frustrated I got really depressed to the point that the sergeant sent an officer to my house with lights and siren on, to do a safety check. I need help getting things back in order and control. Would love advice on how to do this.
This is a really good question. It’s one I hear often, with different details of course, but expressing the same frustration.
It seems that we are always being reminded that life is random. As you said so well, “things that happen come out of the blue.” And just drop into our lap like a hot potato. And as you have been experiencing, sometimes the time of all these random events doesn’t seem to be in our favor, and we run into clusters of troubles.
It is human nature to want life to be stable, to know that things are going to be pretty much the same every day, unless we decide we want to change them. We want certainty. But so much of life isn’t under our control. And when those unexpected challenges come out of the blue, life can feel pretty uncertain. “What’s next?” is a good question. And one that only the next moment in time can answer.
Chronic conditions like diabetes certainly bring home the reminder that life is uncertain. But on the other hand, it’s hard not to wonder, “if I am already dealing with diabetes, isn't that enough?" In your situation, not only have you had the problems at home, but now your job is throwing you enough curveball. I mean, really? What I would encourage you to do is to take a step back and look at the bigger picture. Let’s start with the changes at the police department.
On one hand, it’s a set of new demands that doesn't sound very reasonable. That’s a lot of potential stress. On the other hand, it sounds like your knowledge and insight is highly valued, your expertise in demand. As an overworked friend once said, “life ain't easy when you're good.”
And as you’re looking at the big picture of your life, it’s always a good idea to review your foundation. Your talents and skills. Your support system. The things you enjoy doing. What gives you meaning in life. And your self-care, which makes everything else possible. We all need to be responsible for nurturing our own foundation.
It sounds like you had a wake-up call on the importance of self-care. I’m glad you let the sergeant know you needed a break. That is a step in the right direction.
It might help to take that step back pretty often. To ask yourself if you are maintaining the balance we all need in life. To assess how you are feeling: physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually. And decide if it’s not time to make a few tweaks to keep yourself on track. I guess the word here is proactive.
Optimal self-care means setting limits. I often recommend to clients that they visualize themselves as “good cop" and “bad cop." No pun intended. The "good cop" wants to say, “yes, I can do that. Sure, no problem. I'll take care of everything.” The "bad cop" wants to throw a wrench into the mix by asking tough questions like, “are you sure that’s a good idea? Can you handle that? You're not overcommitting again, are you?”
And as for what’s next… Life is an adventure.
Balance is everything. Make yourself your number one priority. Each and every day. Keep strengthening your foundation and you will be that much more ready for what comes next.
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