We were at the hospital once again. Another seizure.
We were used to the seizures. Our youngest son started having them at two years old. He had 50 to 100 petite mals per day and periodic grand mal seizures. (Or absence seizures and tonic clonic seizures)
Only this time – my four year old son’s seizure lasted over forty five minutes.
And this time – the whole family felt the tremendous shock and trauma of the seizure.
My oldest son locked the door as we waited for the ambulance to arrive. When I asked him what he was doing, his response was clear. “I’m not letting them in! They aren’t taking him! I won’t let him die!”
My father and mother had both died within the previous five years. It was terribly sad for me to lose both parents. And it wasn’t until that moment, I realized my ten year old son was carrying the trauma of their deaths.
We had been through numerous seizures prior to this long, terrifying seizure.
Typically, we knew what to do.
- My oldest son would call Dad.
- My oldest daughter would help me however she could. She took action immediately each time. (Still does)
- My youngest daughter was in my tummy – waiting to join the excitement of our crazy life!
- My husband was usually working. He seemed exceptionally tired and had a hard time getting motivated. It wouldn’t be until 8 years later we would discover he had already had a heart attack and was suffering from diabetes. -The doctor missed it.
And me? I was pregnant. I had two jobs. I was a worship coordinator for our church, as well as an intern for a counseling agency.
I remember a colleague at the counseling agency saying to me, “I don’t know how you do this?,” when she had heard about my son’s last seizures.
Walking away from my family was never an option for me.
Fortunately, it was never an option for my husband either.
Instead – we had to learn self-care when life falls apart.
And – with our family – we have had a LOT of opportunities to practice self-care when life falls apart!
How I Put On My Oxygen Mask
For those of you who aren’t aware, an oxygen mask is what comes down from the ceiling when a plane is going down. The flight attendant of the plane will tell you, “If you are traveling with a child, please put on your oxygen mask first. Then you will be able to breath in order to put your child’s oxygen mask on!”
Our family has been through a lot of trauma. I had to learn how to put my oxygen mask on in order to be fully present for my family.
Five Ways to Practice Self-Care When Life Falls Apart
One – Call A Friend and Accept Help
I was always taught “pull yourself up by your bootstraps.” It didn’t come naturally for me to ask for help or to accept help. I learned very quickly the proper way to respond when someone offers you help is, “Thank you!” I have accepted meals, house cleaning, babysitting, groceries, prayer, and sleep overs.
I have friends who I know would be there for me at a moment’s notice. But – I have to call and I have to say, “Thank you!”
My husband and I have had the opportunity to stay with our children at the hospital on too numerous of an occasion. We have a rule about our family members staying at hospitals – we never let them stay alone. But – We get sleep.
We accept hotel rooms from friends. We accept apartment rooms from the hospital. We do whatever needs to be done. We get sleep.
By the way – Sleep deprivation is the first line of torture for interrogations. Get. your. sleep.
Three – Drink Water and Eat as Healthy as Possible
Adrenaline is at an all time high in your body when life falls apart. It is important to keep it hydrated and eat as healthy as possible. And even though it is tempting, it is really important to NOT guzzle the caffeine.
I absolutely make this a priority now. (Remind me to tell you sometime about the day my husband had an emergency triple bypass and I ended up in the emergency room that night due to a caffeine and stress overload. -Yes, I have learned. My oldest daughter wants a shout out right here! She was incredible that night!
Four – Listen to Encouraging Music
Our house was pretty stressed out for a long time due to seizures, heart attacks, deaths, head injury, and various emergency room trips.
As a part time stay-at-home mom, I always had “happy music” on. My children listened to classical music and instrumental smooth jazz. We listened to our favorite popular Christian music station when driving in the van. And – Of course, we listened to “Frank Sinatra Duets” when doing cleaning.
It is absolutely true. Music calms the savage beasts. Trust me – We were all savage beasts some days!
Everyone worries in crisis. Everyone thinks about things over and over again.
How could I have changed the outcome? What is going to happen next? What if my worst fears happen?
The latest research shows walks in nature actually stop the mind from spinning and spinning and spinning. There is something about the walks in nature with rocks and trees and air that causes the brain to know it must pay attention while walking.
I run in nature. I absolutely make certain I keep up my “happy endorphins.”
As the attorney, Elle, said in the movie Legally Blonde, “Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people just don’t shoot their husbands, they just don’t.”
If you happened on this post because perhaps life has fallen apart for you, I hope these ideas are helpful for you! Leave me a post letting me know what your tips for staying sane when life falls apart!
If you want to contact me to see if I would be a good fit for you as a therapist, please contact me 530-268-3558 or email me at [email protected]
My passion is walking alongside people and helping others on their Brave Compassionate Journeys.