Finding Balance Amid Chaos
In uncertain times, it can be difficult to stay focussed on the here and now. Discovering your personal coping mechanisms can help
By Ryan Griffioen, Representative
I’m a mess. Or at least that’s how I feel at the moment.
I’m not looking for a hand on my shoulder. I’m just admitting that I’m currently quite scatterbrained. I’ve been trying to stoke the passion to care for my union brothers and sisters and their spectrum of issues—some serious, some trivial—while also trying to address my own wants and needs.
This constant noise in my head reminds me of high school lunch periods. I would often sit with friends while desperately trying to review my study notes for a test the following period. The whole time I would read the same section over and over while attempting to tune an ear to the ongoing chatter. I didn’t want to miss out on the gossip and fun, but I really should have found a quiet place to get my head into the right space for the test.
Had I failed, it would have been my own fault, as I would have been unprepared for something of which I had prior notice. But what about other, unexpected events that take the wind out of my sails, like my dad suffering three serious health events in the span of six months? Or the constant COVID chatter from media and friends? There is a universal worry regarding what is the truth, what is speculation, what is hype, and what is just flat-out lies that I too have fallen victim to.
During the pandemic, my wife and I have been working out short- to mid-range plans, including juggling our careers and childcare, processing our feelings about the kids going back to school, and trying to take some meaningful and restful vacation time, all while operating with this perpetual noise in the background. Then umph, the punch in the gut—dad has that seizure we were warned about several months ago following his two brain surgeries, just when we were beginning to think he was out of the woods.
Sometimes, I feel like I just can’t breathe.
I try to flip these thoughts, I truly do. I still have my dad, and my mom and my in-laws, for that matter. My wife, our kids, and I are physically healthy (at least we will be until school starts again). We have jobs that pay well and good friends, and we have even managed to recently get away. But that calm feeling is short-lived. The noise creeps back into my head, like the ticking of a clock or the sound of a fridge you can’t seem to tune out once you’ve noticed it.
This isn’t a cry for help. I’m not in denial. I know therapy and learning some coping skills will do me good. My wife is a good listener, but she tells me I need to find a counsellor. “That’s why we have these benefits,” she says. “So use them.”
As with most things, she is probably right, and I probably will. I encourage you to consider the same.