Have you ever arrived home from work and not remembered the trip home?
“I’d go onto auto-pilot during my commute after I’d lost my brother to suicide,” Dave said. “I was already inside my home before I realized that I had no recollection of how I got there. My mind was so preoccupied with my grief; I’d often feel disoriented.”
Many people processing the emotions brought on by a time of great difficulty will complain of feeling disoriented.
They feel like they don’t know whether they’re coming or going. They find themselves getting lost on the way to a place they’ve been many times before, or feel unable to focus and concentrate.
Preoccupation with a loss or trauma doesn’t give other matters space in the brain. They are pushed to one side. The feeling of helplessness this induces makes people feel even worse about themselves.
A panic attack can strike with no warning. A sudden wave of anxiety or fear washes over a person. The attack leaves the person feeling unable to do or say anything at that moment.
A person having a panic attack may feel their heart pounding, their heart rate increasing and heart palpitations. Sweating, shaking, and hyperventilation will also occur. A lot of people say they feel like they’re frozen in place while being smothered.
Panic attacks are often confused with heart attacks, as some of the symptoms are similar. These attacks are debilitating and leave the sufferer exhausted afterward. They can be embarrassing when they happen in public.
People who experience panic attacks are often the subject of teasing and gossip. This is especially true when they’re around people who don’t understand what a panic attack is. Panic attacks might be the body’s way of telling you that your mind and soul are tired.
“I was so unhappy at work. I’d feel alone in an office full of people,” Susan said. “I felt cut off and excluded from everyone.”
Spiritual exhaustion can lead to feelings of isolation. A person may be afraid to share their problems as they’re fearful they will be judged or hurt.
Other people fear confiding in a person exposes them to potential gossip. The other person may share the secret despite promising to keep it confidential. This betrayal can have lasting consequences, and may make a person feel even worse about their situation.
Being alone and feeling lonely is not good for any person. No man is an island. As social creatures, people need other people. Finding someone to share the burden with is essential. Confiding in a person is often the first step in addressing the underlying issues. This will be good for the body, mind and soul.
Holding grudges is bad for your health. Having been through a tragedy or trauma, it’s natural to harbor some bitterness about what happened. It could be a divorce, the death of a loved one or losing your job.
An unexpected event even may leave the person feeling cheated by what happened. This can make the person feel a great deal of bitterness.
Bitterness leads to resentment. The person may feel like a specific person or event is what caused their problem. They begin to resent the person or people involved in what has happened to them. Their resentment seethes under the surface and begins to consume them. Soon, there’s nothing left except for a burning desire for some revenge.
Studies suggest that not dealing with bitterness can lead to illness in the long-term. Feeling bitter and resentful exhausts not only the body, it affects the mind and soul.
Looking around, a person undergoing intense emotional or mental stress may become angry with those around them.
“I was so angry that I was laid off,” Jeff said. “I felt so angry with those who’d singled me out to lose my job, and I was jealous of my colleagues who weren’t laid off. So felt like a victim, and that made me even angrier.”
Holding onto feelings of anger and jealousy exhausts the body, brain and soul.
As soon as you become angry, the adrenal glands start working. They release the hormone cortisol into the bloodstream. This is the stress hormone \we need for physical survival. The heart rate and blood pressure rise in preparation for self-defense.
Continuous episodes of anger place a strain on the body. Not only the body is affected. The mind and soul become exhausted from feeling like this all the time.
A good many people feel physically weak when going through a tough time dealing with one of life’s many curve balls. Feeling incapacitated and unable to do the things they used to is difficult. The feeling may be down to exhaustion, poor diet, and not looking after themselves.
When a person experiences stress, they tend to neglect themselves and their needs.
Feeling emotionally weak is another common experience. A person may be more prone to tears. Normal situations they would have dealt with now cause them to fall apart. They feel that anything that happens will be the straw that breaks the camel’s back.
The things you’re going through are wearing you out on many levels. They leave you feeling weak. Dealing with the situation and starting on the process of recovery will restore your strength. Feeling more in control will alleviate the tiredness your soul is feeling.
Under emotional stress and pressure, a person may feel that they don’t have a future. They might even feel too afraid to start to think about what the future will be like after what they’ve experienced.
After the loss of someone dear to them, many people feel guilty for even wanting to have a future.
Being unable to contemplate the future is a warning sign you’re exhausted, and it’s time to take care of yourself. Feeling that there is no future is a sign you’re out of gas and need to find a way to refill your tank.
Regardless of what has happened, there is a future, and you need to acknowledge and see that. Living only in the past and trying to get through the present may work in the short-term. However, over the long-term, you need to learn to look to the future with hope.
People have different passions. Some find passion in their work, while others are passionate about hobbies. A lot of people are excited about changing society and the world. They devote their time to charitable acts and caring for others.
Where you were once like that, you might be finding it hard to remember what made you so passionate and why. It’s likely that right now you’re just trying to get through the day.
This takes enough energy without also having to focus on other things. Your lack of energy reserves makes it hard for you to care about minor trivialities such as the things you used to be passionate about.
When your heart and soul are weary, it’s hard to remember what you were passionate about and why. Time for healing is essential to allow you to rediscover your passion and maybe find new interests.
There’s no easier thing to do when you have a tough time than eat your way through it. That’s the view many people subscribe to. The body needs to be fed during times of stress.
Unfortunately, the body doesn’t tell us to indulge in fruits and vegetables. The body tends to tell us we need to eat carbs… a whole lot of carbs.
Reaching for something starchy or sugary when we’re down is something a lot of people do. It’s called comfort eating. French fries and chocolate may make us feel better. However, the effect wears off quickly, leaving us feeling like we did before we ate them.
Although the food doesn’t help, a lot of people continue to eat it anyway. The result is weight gained that isn’t easily lost. Or worse, it can lead to conditions like obesity and diabetes.
A loss of appetite can be indicative of many conditions. One of them is stress or distress. A lot of people going through a traumatic experience, like the loss of a loved one, lose their appetites. They don’t want to eat and start to lose weight.
“After my sister died in a car accident, I stopped eating,” Kate said. “I was so busy being a pillar of strength to others that I would skip meals. I only realized how bad it was when I became ill as a result of it.”
The body is like an engine. It needs to be refilled with the right fuels. Not giving it any fuel at all can have lasting consequences for your health.
If you’re not hungry and have no interest in food, it’s time to look at the things happening in your life that are getting you down.
Being unable to let go of the past can drag down the body and soul. In the immediate aftermath of a tragedy or trauma, feelings run high. This is an extraordinarily stressful time. However, you must move on. Somehow, you must make peace with what has happened.
That may mean having to pick up the shattered pieces of your life and put them back together. This allows you to move forward. Dwelling on the past and the “what ifs” is normal, but there comes a time where it has to end.
Holding onto what caused emotional and spiritual pain prevents a person from moving forward.
As hard as it might be, the ghosts of the past must be banished to where they belong in the past. They’ll be a part of who you are going forward, but they cannot be allowed to own you.
Most people eventually move on from the events that caused them to be hurt and devastated. They put their lives back together and carry on.
A lot of people who’ve lost loved ones to suicide say they struggled but succeeded in finding a way to move forward. However, they continue to feel like something is missing.
“It will always be in the back of my mind that my husband was unhappy enough to take his own life and I couldn’t see it,” Jan said. “I spent many years feeling like something was missing. I realized that what I was missing was the answer to the only question I had: ‘Why?’”
Accepting that you won’t have all the answers and won’t necessarily understand the reasons for what happened takes time. Until you’re able to do so, that missing piece will continue to wear you down and prevent you from healing.
Feeling trapped inside a set of events and circumstances that have caused loss or trauma leaves a person unable to help others. Even though they might see someone who desperately needs their help, they are unable to give it. The paralysis their own situation has brought about leaves them incapable of helping others.
Being able to help others is a great healer. Putting one’s own problems to one side for a brief period helps with the process of moving on.
Wanting to help others is one of the first signs a person is recovering. Getting to that point is often the biggest challenge.
If, months after the event, you still feel you don’t want to help others, it’s likely you are not yet on the path to recovery. Your heart and soul are not yet on the mend. This might indicate you need help to start moving forward.
Isolating yourself from others when you’re undergoing a stressful situation is quite a normal reaction. You might feel that no one understands what you’re going through. A fear of judgment and ridicule will stop you from reaching out.
When you are in contact with people, you pretend that everything is fine when it isn’t.
To avoid the pretense, a lot of people withdraw from others. It’s easier to be alone than to maintain a façade for friends and family. This means making excuses to avoid social gatherings. A person may accept an invitation but cancel at the last minute. Most often, it is their intention to go. However, at the eleventh hour, they change their minds.
Avoiding people and canceling at the last minute are indications that you haven’t fully confronted the events you’re dealing with. The process of healing hasn’t started, and it’s holding you back.
When a person is dealing with a painful time in their lives, they might be inclined to let others take advantage of them. Being emotionally vulnerable makes them the perfect target for manipulative people.
“I was so traumatized by the abuse I suffered as a child,” Mandy said. “I always panicked when someone wanted something from me, and I would be so terrified of the consequences of saying no. As a result, I was taken advantage of at work and in my relationships.
“Dealing with what happened and all the consequences gave me the power to stand up for myself and not allow others to walk over me.”
During times of stress and grief, it might be easier to say yes to something than explain why you’re saying no. Allowing others to take control might be less taxing than being in control.
A person who has experienced a loss or trauma may lose their perspective on relationships. They often hold onto bad relationships. The toxicity of those relationships continues to harm them and prevents them from moving forward.
To outsiders, it looks like a form of self-punishment. It may seem that the person is actively seeking the toxic relationship. They are so absorbed in what’s going on in their lives that they cannot see the harm they’re suffering.
Often, the toxic person is a connection to their past that they’re not quite ready to let go of. Toxic relationships become something of an addiction.
At the same time, they are parasitic. They suck the joy out of a person’s life and prevent them from living to their full potential. The person may see a toxic relationship for what it is and still won’t be able to let it go.
Going through difficult times can leave a person feeling that no one loves them. Even though they might be withdrawing and avoiding people, the person will feel unloved. They feel alone and also misunderstood when they’ve imposed that on themselves. Others might feel unworthy of love and unable to see why they deserve love.
“I was driving the car when my best friend died. I didn’t think I was worthy of forgiveness, let alone love,” Sarah said. “Everywhere I looked, I saw people I thought couldn’t love me again after what I’d done.”
Feeling unloved or unwanted is harmful to the healing process. One of the best motivators for recovering from a terrible event is the love and support of others.
Feeling like no one loves you can hinder or even halt the recovery process. Identify the people in your life who love you, and lean on them for support.
5. You are prepared to go against your own morals and principles
Some emotional vulnerability can cause people to make some uncharacteristic decisions and choices. They are not thinking logically, and this can result in reckless behavior.
Others might feel that they don’t have anything to lose, so they do something they normally would not.
Act in haste, repent at leisure, or so they say. The ramifications of a poor decision can be life-altering. A decision to engage in risky sexual behavior can ruin someone’s life. A time of emotional turmoil and struggle is not the best time to make big decisions. Even after the situation has passed, a person’s judgment may still be affected.
Not having dealt with what has happened will lead to a continuation of poor decision-making. The bad decisions and choices can lead the person on a downward spiral from which they will struggle to recover.
When going through a lot of emotional strife, people feel helpless and hopeless. The struggle is so overwhelming. The person will look around for something to help dull the pain. Anything that will stop them from having to deal with their problems becomes an attractive prospect.
A person struggling to deal with their problems may turn to alcohol and illegal drugs. They may also start to abuse prescription medication.
The mood-altering properties of these substances can help the person to forget what is going on in their lives. It’s a sure-fire way to avoid problems and not confront them. Using and abusing substances can trigger an addiction. Treatment and recovery from addiction are difficult.
Breaking the cycle of addiction will take a visit to a rehab facility and lots of counseling and therapy. Avoid self-medicating, as it has some lasting consequences that might be difficult to shake.
Suffering a loss or trauma leaves a permanent mark on a person. The mark will become smaller over time, but it’s there for life. Grief and turmoil change a person forever.
With time, a person will start to recover and return to being the person they were before. Taking the time needed to recover and deal with what has happened helps a lot.
However, it’s not that easy for everyone. There are people who struggle terribly to get back to their old lives. Some are unable to do so at all. They become a totally different person than who they were before.
If you look in the mirror and you can no longer recognize yourself, you might be struggling to recover from an event that has changed your life. While any change will challenge who you are, your true essence and character should remain.
Grief and emotional struggles leave a person feeling unmotivated. Not feeling able to motivate yourself is a red flag.
In the initial stages after the event that triggers your struggle, self-motivation will be a challenge. However, if it continues after the fact, you need to think about getting some help.
A human being is motivated from within. Self-motivation is combined with motivation from external sources. Motivation makes people ambitious and able to set goals for themselves. Without motivation, no one would ever try anything new or go out on a limb. Most of the world’s inventions would not have been discovered without a healthy dose of motivation.
When getting out of bed is something you need to motivate yourself to do, your body, mind and soul are exhausted. A lack of motivation can lead to depression and seep into all aspects of your daily life.
Laughter is an expression of joy and happiness. Often, when people have experienced a loss, they feel they’re not entitled to laugh or find joy. They actively censure themselves and don’t laugh at anything anymore.
Even those who want to laugh find it an enormous effort. A smile feels like a strain and laughter seems impossible. This is normal in the immediate aftermath of a tragedy or sad event.
It should recede over time, and the person should be able to find things that make them smile or laugh. When nothing can bring a smile to your face or make you laugh any more, it is a sign of emotional or spiritual exhaustion.
Addressing the cause of your struggle can help you find yourself again. And, along the way, you’ll find that life will present you with many reasons to smile and laugh.