(a chapter from Telling Ed No! by Cheryl Kerrigan©)
Inevitably, there were some days when stress would strike, Ed’s voice would be loud, and my recovery voice would be difficult to hear. I would find my thoughts spinning in a hundred directions and wouldn’t know which one to move towards. During these times, I needed to reach out to other people to help ground me in the present moment. I knew this would be a challenge, but I also knew I couldn’t get better alone—my treatment team had taught me that. What’s more, I needed to overcome the fear of asking for help, as well as understand that asking meant I was strong and not weak.
So, I sat down one day and made out a list of all the people that I thought would make good supports. Next to their name I listed their contact information as well as what kind of support they would best be able to offer. As I was sitting there, Ed chimed in and told me that no one could help me like he did. He said, “I know you better than you know yourself, Cheryl! Don’t be foolish and think you can go to others. Stick with me.” Even though I wanted to agree with him, I told him that I have “real” support people I can trust, and he is not one of them.
I continued to make my list in spite of Ed’s pleas. I chose my supports carefully, keeping in mind that not everyone understands how completely Ed can take over the mind and the “craziness” that goes along with that. Also, support people are only capable of giving what they can, which might not be all I might need at the time I reach out. This is why having a variety of people with different skill sets on your list is important. Some people make good listeners, or might be good at brainstorming, while others may be great eating companions, or serve as an effective distraction. Some friends will enjoy food shopping and others will be good problem solvers. Each person will have his or her own strength from which to draw.
Once my list of supports was complete I put one copy in my purse and another by the phone and computer. Having it readily accessible in different places made it easier to know whom to call or email when I was in the middle of a panic and couldn’t think straight. A little preparedness can help during high stress moments, and having a good support list is a great start!
Make a list of the people you have in your life who might make good supports (maybe using crayon or marker to make it more colorful and fun). Be sure to include their contact information. Are they family members, friends, professionals, church members, or co-workers? How has each one helped you in the past? Then list each person’s strengths. Get as creative as you consider how these strengths might dovetail with your particular wants or needs. Put a copy wherever you can get to it quickly—in your purse or book bag, on your phone or computer. This way, when you are in need of additional support, you can reach out right away and get help. Who will you contact when you are in need?
With health, hope and strength,