You know the feeling right? Everything's going swimmingly and you feel like you're on top of the world then BOOM one of those major crisissy-type things hits and suddenly you're not swimming, you're drowning. It could be a relationship break-up, the loss of a job, the death of a loved one...
For me it's usually a chest infection. I was diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis (CF) when I was six weeks old. CF is a genetically inherited condition that affects around 10,000 people in the UK. It's essentially a faulty gene that makes the mucus in your body very thick and sticky (did I mention it's also super sexy?), which in turn leads to increasingly aggressive chest infections and, eventually, lung failure. There's no cure for CF and the life expectancy is currently around 41; in fact I lost my brother to the disease when he was just 20 (I was 12 at the time). The upshot of living with CF is that things can be a bit...uncertain. I have regular check-ups at the hospital; do around 2-3 hours of treatments every day and take somewhere between 30 and 40 pills on a daily basis. All this just to keep me on an even keel and, don't get me wrong, it is pretty even - I have a lung function that sits stable at around 55% so there's no talk of transplants or oxygen tanks in my immediate future. Compared to many other people with CF I'm extremely lucky and I know it, but I still get those BOOM moments.
A few years back, after a particularly nasty series of infections, I decided to work freelance as a copywriter so that I could fit my work around my health instead of the other way round. One thing led to another and I'm now also a public speaker (yes I know, a public speaker who can't breathe properly is slightly comical). Suffice it to say, I'm kept pretty busy by my work so when I get one of those BOOM moments it's... well... inconvenient is a bit of an understatement.
What it is, in fact, is soul destroying. I work so hard every day of my life to keep myself well, build my career and spend time with my family and then BOOM I'm back at square one - hiding out at home or in the hospital and falling behind on all the important parts of my life. So what do I do when I get a BOOM moment? Do I whinge and whine and feel sorry for myself? Yes. Abso-bloody-lutely. And why shouldn't I?
I happen to think it's really important to acknowledge your troubles, to allow yourself to feel bad and to not try to 'be brave' all the time. Whatever challenges you face, however insignificant you may think they are compared to what other people are going through, they are your challenges and you're allowed to be overwhelmed occasionally. The point however, is that I never feel overwhelmed for very long.
What I do is I make a point of only 'wallowing' for a day or so at most, before I pick myself up and start again. Refuse to feel sorry for yourself at all and you'll eventually meltdown. Feel sorry for yourself for too long and you'll become a victim. You have to decide to fight back. Get organised, enlist the help of the people who love you and use your BOOM moment as a chance for a fresh start.
Every time I get knocked back by a chest infection, bereavement, a professional wibble or anything else for that matter, I just pick myself up and start again. Because I have to. Because I don't have a choice. Because giving in is not an option for me, and it shouldn't be for you. People tell me I'm brave and inspirational and wotnot simply because I have a little more to deal with than most, but the fact is that we're all dealing with BOOM moments and we can all fight back.
So here's my advice to you: the next time a BOOM moment hits you acknowledge it. Crawl under your duvet for the day and feel utterly, wretchedly sorry for yourself. Then get stubborn, tell your problems that you're in charge and they have no right to make you feel less than your fabulous self. Pick yourself up, start again and the BOOM will soon become a boom.