The sunken place is real. For me, it looks a lot like paradise but in slow motion. It’s drenched in a cold color palette like in Ozark but with palm trees swaying in the background as if stuck in molasses. I can’t say definitively that I’ve been here before.
I’ve felt stuck many times before in my life, whether in dead-end jobs, relationships, or heck, even cities. Although incredibly frustrating, in retrospect, I’m always grateful for those seasons of stuck frustrated energy. Without fail, it has motivated me to move on, to work harder, to come up with a new game plan to get the f*ck out of Dodge.
These past few months though have been hard. Harder than anything else in my life. Since making the leap to start a new business, the tectonic plates beneath me have shifted. I’m still in the aftershocks. My car died; which in Los Angeles is like losing a limb. I’m in debt up to my eyeballs, 40 pounds heavier than when I moved here, bank account running on fumes in the negative, rendering myself stuck grapes-of-wrathing it in a $1200/month apartment with my sick cat.
When you’re in the sunken place, living in it day in, day out with no end in sight, it can feel daunting. I’m here to tell you (and to remind myself) that it’s okay to not be okay. I’m not a therapist, and I can only speak to my own experiences, but here’s what I’ve learned in the sunken place:
You have to connect with your “why.”
Why do you do you what you do? If the answer is fame, power, fortune or any combination of the three — things will inevitably fall apart. You are never too successful, too organized, too talented, too confident to not be completely humbled in an instant. Your ego must die a thousand deaths if that’s what it takes. It can’t be about yourself. Not even in your sunken place, or you’ll never get out of it.
Take care of yourself.
Even if your “why” is rock solid (i.e. – helping others), an empty shell of a person barely hanging on can’t sustainably give themselves to the greater good. That well will run dry, and fast. It may feel cliche or counterintuitive when your To-Do List looks like a CVS receipt, but you have to make time to check in with yourself. Reconnect with things that make you happy: a walk outside, a podcast, a favorite band or musician, painting, cleaning, or calling up an old friend. As a wise friend once told me, “self-care isn’t a luxury, it’s a necessity.”
Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
Although the heavy fog you’re in feels lonely and you wish people would reach out to you, it can also be easy to write off the check-ins with an “I’m great!” or switch the conversation around to the other person. People are inclined to help if asked directly. Figure out what basic needs in your life are not being met, and put it out there that you’re looking those things. Food? Money? Just someone to talk to? Find the courage to ask.
If you’re afraid to ask your friends or family for help, there are apps and programs like TalkSpace (on-demand therapists), government programs like Food Stamps & Unemployment, or Suicide Prevention Hotlines that have people available to talk 24/7. Don’t wait to reach out. You are loved, and there is help out there for you. Hang in there.