Am I coping?

by rodney on February 16, 2015

depressionOne of the questions that I’m asked most often or comment I often hear from clients in crisis is around how they are coping. They’ll ask me “Am I coping?” or mention to me “I’m not coping”.

Coping is an important part of the human experience. Our ability to handle and cope with crisis situations is important for our survival. If we can cope in these situations, we can overcome them. If we can’t this can lead to all sorts of issues including health issues, mental illness and even death.

Out of the people who ask me this question, most don’t realise that they are coping. The reason for this is their expectation. Take a moment and ask yourself if I were coping in a crisis situation, what would that look like? Have you got that image yet? Great, what is it? For most people, that image of coping will be being calm, rational, in control and emotionally stable. While agree that this is coping, it doesn’t mean that anything less is not coping.

Crying, feeling stressed, being sad- these are not signs of not coping. You can still be upset and cope. So what does coping look like, or more importantly, how do I know if I am coping? Here’s 3 things to consider.

Functioning

Ask yourself, are you still functioning? That is, are you still going to work? Are you still eating? Are you still looking after yourself ie, health, exercise hygiene etc.? Are you still taking care of children and commitments? If you answer yes to any of these questions, you are still functioning. If you’re still functioning, you’re coping! When people face crisis, many stop functioning. It may be difficult or a struggle to function, but if you can still muster the strength to do something, you’re doing better than most.

Suicide

Are you having thoughts of suicide or self harm? Are you planning to suicide or self harm? If you answered No, then you are coping. Suicide happens when people can’t see any other way out. Coping is the ability to get through crisis and if you are turning to suicide, then you’re having difficulty finding another way. If you are thinking of suicide, then you need to talk to someone now, family, friend, Doctor, counsellor crisis supporter- anyone. This is a sign you need help.

Drugs/alcohol

Are you drinking more than usual? Are you using drugs or alcohol as a way to cope? If you answered no, then you are coping. It’s no surprise that people turn to  alcohol and or drugs during a crisis. Reason why is that drugs and alcohol numb us. They help to alleviate pain. They make you feel better (for a short period of time) and disengage us from the crisis. While on the surface, this may seem good, it won’t help us to move through the crisis. Nothing will be resolved and the situation will get worse. This will also have detrimental effects on our health.

If you are going through a crisis, if you are having trouble coping, or even if you’re not,  you don’t have to do it alone. Consider seeking professional counselling.

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