Life Advice


Health & Spirit

How to keep dealing with one tragedy after another

Carolyn Hax on

Adapted from a recent online discussion.

Hi, Carolyn:

This has just been a crappy year and I'm really tired of it. Eight people I care about have died; yesterday I found out a close relative has Stage 4 cancer; I had to give my dog away; my mom is facing serious health problems that are only going to get worse; I've been ghosted by my best friend (who I just found out is getting married and is pregnant); and I'm just tired. I'm trying so hard to follow your general advice to take good care of myself, but right now I don't think I can push myself to go for a run and eat another salad. I just want to eat Cheetos, binge-watch a sitcom, and take naps for a couple days. It's all I can do to not cry sitting here at my desk.

I know there is so much worse stuff going on in the world right now, but it's hard to keep things in perspective. How do I keep soldiering on when every time I turn around someone else dies?

-- Soldiering On

I'll bet you're tired. That is a staggering amount of loss in a short period of time -- I'm so sorry.

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As a past chatter once rightly pointed out, sometimes "self-care" is eating Cheetos, binge-watching a sitcom, and taking naps for a couple days.

Going for a run and eating a salad is a valid and important break from the relentless negativity of your life right now, in part because it's sustainable and restorative where so much is grinding you down -- but if you never let yourself take a break from your break, then it will grind you down, too.

The touchstone is habit. Don't allow anything to become a habit from which you emerge feeling worse.

I hope you also make an appointment with your primary-care physician, if you haven't yet pursued any formal treatment for what you're going through. Just because anxiety and/or depression is clearly situational doesn't mean it can't also be clinical.


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