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3 Ways to Survive a Setback

I think we can all relate to facing setbacks. At least I imagine we are not the only couple or family to face them. If you’ve lived very long you know that into each life there are times when everything seems to go in reverse and you are taking two steps back for every three going forward. Though it is progress, it is wearisome.

For the person struggling with anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder or any other mental health illness, setbacks are much more prevalent and expected. There’s a desperate need to learn how to survive the setback and not let it destroy our hope of good things to come. 

Glen and I know setbacks first hand and unfortunately we feel we’ve faced more than our fair share. However, here we are still together and still pushing forward. With every setback, we’ve spent many hours forging plans for surviving the downturn of health, job loss or death of a dream. It takes more courage than I ever hoped to possess to keep pushing ahead, especially when every fiber of your being says quit. 

No one knows this more than the mental health survivor. Finding ways to cope amid setbacks becomes a necessity. Glen and I have put together a simple list of 3 ways to cope when life seems to go in reverse.

Remember your purpose:
I think the first  place we lose our footing is within the confines of our own thinking. Staying focused on the truth is a vital part of our plan for success. Each of us has a purpose for being here on this earth in spite of the glamour or simplicity of our lives. I’ve determined that some of us were born to be extraordinarily ordinary.

Perhaps we were not all born to have abundance or wealth. Perhaps we have been given the mighty task of living with less...maybe even less of our minds and thus less of the fluff and stuff of life. In this state of need we must dig deep and remember whose we are and what our main purpose is. Ultimately our lives are meant to reflect the glory and splendor of God. To be joyful in hope and patient in affliction. It takes guts, grit and grace to do this. Your purpose isn’t wrapped up in the external but rather the internal fortitude that determines to find joy amid the chaos. Sometimes our purpose is the pain and to endure it with God’s grace at the helm of our lives.

Create solitude:
When chaos surrounds us or invades our mental frame, solitude is a great way to endure until the shadows flee; for in the quiet we can silence the dark voices of sadness and awaken our hearts to the uplifting words of hope and courage. My husband has often retreated to a place of solitude to bear the load of an anxiety attack or bout of depression. I don’t always like the silence but I know he is waiting out the dark season, quieting the demons of darkness and opening his heart to hear the still small voice of the Lord. This isn’t his only point of attack but it helps as he breathes his way through the storm. And very often he finds refuge in leaving the normal day to day flow of life and escapes through fishing or a quiet walk by a stream.  I support his moments of escape because this ensures that he will survive yet another storm.

Continue your treatment plan:
Perhaps most important of all is to remember to stay current with your treatment plan. Never abandon what works when you are feeling well. Stick with your medications and coping strategies so you are equipped for the storms and setbacks. This has been a key reason my husband has done so well for so long. If you don't have a treatment plan, make one.  Go see a doctor.  Schedule a visit with a therapist.  Call a trusted friend...not all friends are helpful.  If you are taking medications, remember that some things can interact with medication and interrupt rather alleviate symptoms.  Alcohol is a big one.  People often resort to self medication and alcohol is a no no if you are taking meds for your mind.  It takes discipline to say no but it is worth it.

Remember, the storms can happen to us all at any time.  Sometimes and often setbacks occur without warning.  Being prepared is helpful. Even anticipating the storms can offset the stress that happens when they occur.  It can be challenging to avoid the "other shoe falling" syndrome.  I've battled this myself.  In all honesty, there were times I felt I was suffering from PTSD and maybe I did have a touch of it.  But with time, my own wounds have healed.  


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