Support Systems

Fortunately, when I battled my first anxiety episode, I had a small group of close friends and some family that surrounded me, cheering me on.   My biggest cheerleader was my husband.  He started taking over some of my chores at home, and supported my choice to try the alternative medical routes, even though we did not see too many positive results.  He was always there with a strong hug when I needed comforting, a shoulder when I was crying,  an ear when I needed to talk, and always always there to help push me forward.  Most importantly, he was very patient. Three years is a long time to be patient.

About the same time, I left my job, which left me with little to fill my days or occupy my mind other than going from doctor to doctor trying to find a solution to my situation.(remember that I had not fully accepted my plight, and was running around trying to find something that would work within the boundaries of my denial.)  That was not a great place to be.

One very dear friend accompanied me every morning on a walk.  Well, the truth is she came to take me on a walk.  The walks were very helpful,  offering pleasant conversation in a peaceful nearby park, and filling some part of each day.   Then one day at the end of our walk,  I just started to cry.  “What do I do now?”  I asked.    Besides hugging me tightly,  her tears mixing with mine, she grabbed at the first thing she could think of.  She was on her way to volunteer in our synagogue gift shop and suggested that I tag along.  It took about two seconds for me to agree to try that, and it was a miracle how much that little suggestion meant to my future well-being.  I ended up becoming a volunteer at the gift shop. It proved to be a safe place to go each day, and provided simple things to occupy my mind.  It was truly a great environment in which to begin to heal, and I am ever so grateful for the huge part this activity played in my healing process.  I have since remained quite involved in this volunteer activity.

I began to volunteer at other institutions, including our local arboretum and our neighborhood elementary school.  Thinking beyond my own problems was so very helpful in many ways.  I began to  put a life back together and help others at the same time.

There were a number of friends who kept in touch, though not a lot of people knew what was going on in my life.  But It is important to me to acknowledge two very dear friends who were part of my core group of cheerleaders.  One called several times a day,  offering her ears to listen and her love for support. Still another friend simply invited me to join her in everyday activities.  Sometimes that meant sitting in her kitchen and arranging flowers. Sometimes it meant helping with a sewing project.  It never mattered what the task was.  What mattered was the companionship and a safe environment.

I write about these supports because they were so important to me during this difficult period, and I believe this kind of support would be important for anyone going through such a major crisis.


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