17 Jan The Last Straw
Friends! I’m excited to welcome you to our Well Sonoma blog. Our practitioners will post seasonally-appropriate recipes, recommendations for healthful living, and insights into our own self-care practices. We’re beginning with posts from four of Well Sonoma’s health care providers sharing with you moments when we’ve felt overwhelmed. We know that everyone’s been there, and we want to show you that we have, too–as well as let you know the ways we moved through and out of the overwhelm. I’m honored to kick off this blog, which I hope will be a source of comfort, inspiration and belly laughs to you as it grows and evolves. Be Well!
“Dammit, Belly, I’M SO OVERWHELMED!” I roared. And in the immediate, ensuing silence, I realized: none of them have ever heard my voice that loud. Not my husband, Adam, who’s known me for, oh, fifteen years. Not my son, Kamal, who is five and regularly pushes every last one of my buttons. And not even Belly, my dog, who once ate my favorite bra and likes to steal the wheels off of our vacuum cleaner.
If you’ve ever met me, you know I’m not a shouter. Honestly, most people I know describe me as the nicest person they’ve ever met. In the work I do, my goal is always to help my patients to feel calm first and foremost, and I work hard to cultivate and project calm in my life. And it’s become such a default for me that even when I try to muster up an angry voice, it sounds, at best, squeaky and comedic.
But in that moment I’d been trying for hours to go for my weekend-morning run, a critical stress outlet for me that’s all the more critical as my practice has filled up with people that need support after the wildfires that devastated Sonoma County. Belly was wiggling and generally making it really hard to get her leash on, and I was seeing the minutes ticking by, the window for my run closing, and before I knew what I was saying, I was shouting out my overwhelm to the entire neighborhood. I was surprised by my own outburst, and a little ashamed.
And here’s the thing: we’re all overwhelmed sometimes. We don’t always realize it, because we’re inured to the challenges of modern living, the expectations of high achievement and effortless perfection, but every single human being has finite resources of energy and patience. And when we hear ourselves in overwhelm–whether we are shouting or weeping or just complaining a whole lot–we might feel ashamed, or ened, when really what we need to give ourselves are empathy and understanding.
And I give this speech to patients all the time, reminding them that they are human, that their plate is full. Lately I remind people, also, that we’ve all lived through a natural disaster, and that it’s imperative we be even more gentle with ourselves.
But taking my own advice? Well, it took reaching that breaking point. It took hitting the bottom of my well of resources, running out of patience not because I’m an impatient person, but because there is a limit to everyone’s patience, and I’d just spent all of mine.
Fortunately for me, I have a lot of tools to help me refill my well when all my resources have run out–many of those from my wise and intuitive colleagues here at Well Sonoma. Every one of the practitioners here have experienced moments of overwhelm ourselves, and as with every challenge we encounter, we’ve worked to use those moments to deepen our empathy for our patients and clients. We’ve learned strategies to cope with and recover from overwhelm, and we share those with the people we are privileged to help.
I went for that run, and when I came back, I made some changes. I scheduled a little time off for myself–not to travel, not to catch up on work, but to rest. I cancelled some obligations. I got together with friends. I asked around for therapist recommendations. I made some soup.
That’s my experience, and those are some of my tools. Check back here for Kristi Dee Doden’s upcoming post about her own experience with overwhelm, what it taught her about herself, and the ways she moved through it. Be Well!
All the best,