"Character is the one thing we make in this world and take with us into the next."
- - Ezra Taft Benson
August 15, 2014
The Stress of Change
by Sarah Hancock

Sometimes things just all happen at once.

Maybe you get a new job, have to change insurance carriers thus needing new doctors, have a baby shower at your home (which is currently a disaster), say goodbye to a dear friend, experience family financial restraints, think about a beloved spouse going out of town, an ill loved one, the departure of a supervisor, the increase in cost for doctor visits/prescriptions while experiencing a loss of cash benefits, an impending deadline on a project you’ve never completed before, the death of your pet, a toilet that doesn’t work, living with a friend while your housing situation is sorted out, the suicide of a beloved celebrity, a new second job, or simply the change of taking a detour to work because there was road construction.

Whatever it is, change is rough.

With the exception of the road construction, all of the above things are on my mind today. I feel completely scattered. There were times I felt like my chest was going to pop and times that I fought back tears. At one point, I stood pouring a glass of milk, only to realize moments later that I’d spilled it all over my counter and the kitchen floor.

Where is my mind? That’s a good question. I’m not quite sure.

Change happens. The problem is sometimes a bunch of change happens at the same time. Regardless of the type of change, it causes stress. My dad taught me at a very young age there was eustress and distress. Eustress is the reaction to good stuff that happens and distress is a result of the bad. Either way, it’s still stress and dealing with it can be stressful.

If you’ll indulge me, in an effort to relieve my distress, I’d like to share with you what I’ve done and what I will do to cope with my many changing situations.

I made a list of all the things that I am and will be dealing with. I tried to see if there was something I could do about any of them, but in my mind there wasn’t. So I moved on to my next option — call a friend or two.

Gratefully, one of my friends is a psychiatric nurse and an amazing one at that. She helped me think through some things that I could delegate and other things that I could easily take care of with a simple email or phone call. She helped me make a plan of attack and invited me to call her the following day.

Then I called my counselor and made an appointment. Fortunately, he had an opening. We discussed on the phone for a bit all the things on my list and he pointed out some ideas that may help. Each of the ideas were ones that I could have probably figured out if I’d had one to five things on my list of change, but since I had 18, my brain just wasn’t functioning properly.

After that I will make that call and send out those emails to delegate some of this workload. And then I’m going to take a break from my responsibilities this evening and breathe. While breathing, I might even pop in my earplugs so that I can quiet all the external noise that my mind simply can’t filter at the moment.

Then I’ll quietly start a load of laundry and while it’s going, I’m going to play with my beads and maybe even make a necklace.

By hook or by crook I’m going to bed early. It’s going to be difficult because my sweetie and my daughter will be making the final efforts to get out the door on time tomorrow morning. But, I’m going to do what I can to get the sleep I need because tomorrow will be a ton better if I wake up having slept enough.

Tomorrow, I will look at that list of my major changes, smile at the things I’ve already taken on and then work on a plan to help me deal with the other things. Baby steps. I can do this. You can, too!

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About Sarah Hancock

Sarah Price Hancock, a graduate of San Diego State University's rehabilitation counseling Masters of Science program with a certificate psychiatric rehabilitation.

Having embarked on her own journey with a mental health diagnosis, she is passionate about psychiatric recovery. She enjoys working as a lector for universities, training upcoming mental health professionals. Sarah also enjoys sharing insights with peers working to strengthen their "recovery toolbox." With proper support, Sarah knows psychiatric recovery isnít just possible ó itís probable.

Born and raised in San Diego, California, Sarah served a Spanish-speaking and ASL mission for the LDS Church in the Texas Dallas Mission. She was graduated from Ricks College and BYU. Sarah currently resides in San Diego and inherited four amazing children when she married the man of her dreams in 2011. She loves writing, public speaking, ceramics, jewelry-making and kite-flying ó not necessarily in that order.

NAMI San Diego's Fall Keynote Address: Living in Recovery with Schizoaffective Disorder

Having recently moved into a new ward, she currently serves as a visiting teacher.

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