Regaining the balance

Everyone has a breaking point – you never see it coming!  Very often, those around you can see it, yet we ignore the warnings until it’s too late and we’ve crashed head first into it.

Life in general is a balancing act.  We constantly want to change things for the better (this is a good thing), yet what we don’t realise is that we have a set of basics that make life tick over.  Usually we’re looking to significantly change things in one, two, or for the resilient types, three areas of our lives.  What are these areas you ask?  Think about your day-to-day life, what you’re happy about and what you’re looking to change – everything will fit into one of these eight areas:

  1. Family
  2. Friends
  3. Relationship/Love Life (or lack of!)
  4. Work
  5. Home
  6. Money
  7. Health & Wellbeing
  8. Hobbies and Pastimes

Priorities change, sometimes daily and when three or more of these are really unstable we become more stressed and the others start to destabilise. However, this is life and we get on with it, yet sadly we’re sometimes hit with a trauma and everything quickly (not necessarily overnight) falls apart – this is the breaking point.

This is merely my own theory and in hindsight after two serious personal traumas (one at 16 and the other at 23 – I’m 33 now), I’ve realised that this is the approach I used to regain my balance and move forward.  There is no time limit, sometimes this takes years – its what works for you.

Six months ago today, I suffered the third and worst trauma of my life; the death of my mother (she was only 48 years old) and it was totally unexpected.  At that point in my life, I had quit my job just two days before, started a new and exciting relationship (my first in six years) and decided to sell my home of nine years.  Three big causes of stress – good stress, yet still stress.

Did I stop and put the brakes on when this trauma hit?  No, of course not – I soldiered through, or so I thought.  For the following months life carried on as normal as it could and slowly but surely things slipped – a constant tightness in the chest that made breathing impossible at times, profound night sweats and terrors causing exhaustion from sleep deprivation. My body screaming at me to stop – still I ignored it.  I kept being told by family and friends to stop and process what had happened, but how?  I literally said – “I can’t and I won’t deal with this now!”

However, you can’t park it, that breaking point will come eventually and it differs for everyone; it’s not about people being stronger than others, it’s about you.  This is the time that you have to think about you and only you – difficult for an altruist!

That breaking point was three weeks ago today and for my doctor to say after a five minute conversation, “you’re having a least a month off work,” something they rarely do straight away, I was still refusing to put me first.  Someone (putting me before themselves, despite it causing them pain) gave me the required kick I needed and within a week I was alone in Spain without my phone, complete solitude for a week – was this the right move or the biggest mistake of my life?

On the plane, waiting for my baggage and during the transfer I could feel myself really struggling to hold it together.  It was the moment the hotel door shut behind me that I literally collapsed in a heap for about three hours – I couldn’t physically stand up, or at times even breathe.  It’s a feeling I’ve experienced before, although never to that degree – the pain was something I’d be scared to face to again, yet I know I must if I’m ever to get past it.

Over the next seven days I reflected, analysed, got angry, cried and laughed – I think this is where the annoying term ’emotional rollercoaster’ comes from!  There were days when I really moved forward and then others when I stepped further back – yet I never got to that breaking point again as I’d acknowledged that I’d hit it and it’s only then that you can start to move forward.  I was going home a little bit stronger.

About Nick Lennon-Barrett

Originally from North-West, England, moving to London as an adult and carving out a career as an HR and L&D professional. The writing bug was always there as a child, yet it wasn't until my 30s that I finally did something about it. The joy of working in HR is that you're never short of character inspiration! I'm an enthusiast of both crime and comedy fiction so when I decided to write my first novel my aim was to combine these two genres tackling topical issues in a dark comedy murder mystery. This was the start of the DCI Fenton Murder Trilogy.
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