Self Help Now: A community blog

Dr. Jacqueline B. Sallade offers advice for maintaining your mental health.

Transitions Can Be Hard or Handled Gracefully

Written by Dr. Jacqueline B. Sallade, Community blogger | Aug 14, 2013 9:27 PM

All day, I saw people struggling to handle difficult transitions. The hardest one involves a young man reorganizing his whole life in his late 30's due to severe heart disease. Yet, he's the one with the best attitude. He feels lucky to be alive and takes time to enjoy some bird-watching from his porch. He's not even depressed. Way to go, young man.

Another great transition consists of my neighbors moving across the country to live near their children and grandchild. It's stressful to pack and sell furniture, say good-byes after 20 years, and start anew in their 60's but they're thrilled.

Then, there's the man overcoming a difficult rehab situation, getting back to learning trust, figuring out how to cope with a less than fulfilling work situation, and reorganizing their financial plans for the future. There's hurt and anger involved, shame and frustration. There are health problems and a sense of shared burden. His transition is hard and so is the wife's. There's a long road ahead and they're scared. They'll need to focus on one thing at a time and offer each other support and love. That's the only way, not to get lost in details but to see the whole picture.

The most painful might be the couple in which the man recommitted to his wife after an almost affair. While that transition could be the simplest and most pleasant, for the wife, it's a nightmare of obsessive distrust, loss of inner peace and fear for the unknown future.

There's the kid who bounced between parents/homes for years , who used to be a tempermental hooligan, now diagnosed, medicated and therapized into true desire to cope, cool off, and behave better. He doesn't know if he can do it, but he wants to try. The transition is from immaturity to the next level of maturity. It'll be hard with ups and downs all the way. So much damage and anger to overcome, and so many bad habits to break.

Transitions are what people make them, exciting, stimulation, joyous, challenging, difficult, stressful, scary, and/or frustrating. Folks filter out the parts wthey can't handle and tackle one part at a time, or they become overwhelmed and fall apart. I would urge anyone going through a major transition, even one of their own choosing, even a happy one, to look ahead briefly to see where they're headed, then to retract back to the business at hand and take one baby step at a time, patiently, with self-love and support from someone special.

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