Reflections at 40 – Resilience – 8/40

To celebrate turning 40, I’ve challenged myself to blog for each of the 40 days leading into my birthday. This is post number 8. You can read all the posts here.

I have a post sitting in my drafts at the moment titled ‘Is too much resilience a bad thing?’

While I’m yet to refine my argument in that regard, the base premise of the post is ‘Yes, it’s a bad thing.’

My theory is this.

There are two types of ‘copers’ in the world:

  • Those who’ve had a major burnout event or breakdown.
  • Those who are going to.

By the time Christmas of 2010 rolled around, I was already pretty close to a major burnout event.

The stress of running my struggling business had triggered anxiety and I was in a permanent state of fight or flight.

I was working my way through every free business resource I could download from the internet because I was convinced there was a magic bullet that would turn my business into a profit-making machine. If I read enough and did enough, surely I’d find it.

The more I felt I was failing to meet my standards when it came to being the boss, wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend and person I wanted to be, the more I overcompensated (usually by ‘doing more’) in order to try and meet those standards.

I was completely drowning, yet no one had any idea. My husband knew I was stressed, depressed and distant, and did what he could to help. But the fact was, I didn’t want help.

‘I’m a capable, organised and intelligent person’, I thought, ‘I can sort this out myself.’

I’ve blogged previously that this is perhaps one of the most dangerous (and irresponsible) things we can tell ourselves.

I kept going.

Early in 2011 I fell pregnant again. And then, a month later, experienced my third miscarriage.

(I thought I dealt with that one really well until I found myself running dramatically from the room at a friend’s wedding when she announced she was pregnant. Her due date would have been very close to mine.)

In the middle of the year, a close friend, (someone who shared our office and was also our biggest client) committed suicide. As with many (most?) suicides, we did not see it coming.

Since I’ve always handled grief (or any major life challenge, I guess), by doing, and since my friend’s business had to keep running, (it was his family’s only income), that became my coping mechanism for the next six weeks.

It was only when my friend’s wife took over that I went to pieces enough for my husband to suggest he take over running my business for a while.

Here’s the thing, however. I was pregnant again. I only accepted my husband’s help because ‘Taking leave from the business is what this baby needs from me to survive.’ And, given how terrible my morning sickness was (requiring three-hour sleeps in the middle of the day to escape the worst), that leave was well-timed.

But, then I lost that baby too.

Is this the point where I completely broke down and got some proper help?

No, it wasn’t.

(I was a coper, remember? I could sort myself out myself.)

Rock bottom was still to come and, as I would discover, the longer it takes to get there, the worse it is.


Image credit: Karsten Würth (@inf1783)