Infertility. High-risk pregnancy. Lengthy NICU stays times four. Your Mother's cancer diagnosis. Multiple moves looking for a support system. Leaving a career you loved. A spouse's struggle with drug and alcohol addiction. Your spouse's job loss. Your Mother's cancer remission. Emotional, physical, and financial abuse. The return of cancer. Your Mother's death. Your spouse's addiction issues spiraling out of control. You spouse attempts suicide multiple times. Your spouse facing criminal charges. Inability to obtain affordable childcare so that you can work. Adultery. These are just some of the many events crammed into the past four years of my life.
A crisis is defined as a time of intense difficulty, trouble, or danger. A crisis of life is a highly volatile or dangerous situation/emergency requiring immediate remedial action. A crisis occurs when a stressful life event overwhelms an individual’s ability to cope effectively in the face of a perceived challenge or threat. Typically, individuals respond with an elevated stress reaction; mental confusion and overload and physical symptoms such as a racing heart and high blood pressure. An individual's ability to think and decision making skills are hampered and focus shifts solely to survival. But how long can someone survive living in crisis mode?
For the past four years, my life has been a crisis. Sure, there have been some happy moments along the way. My children's birth and the many, many, many, many blessings that they've brought into my life has been amazing. Honestly, they are the four reasons I get out of bed every single morning and try to put a smile on my face. Still, earlier this year I started seeing a counselor to help me cope with the amount of stress in my life along with grief from my Mom's death. At our first appointment, she asked me what it was that I was coming for help with. I would imagine that most people seeking counseling are dealing with the aftermath of a specific event or two. After summarizing the amount of stress and crises occurring in my life, all at the same time, she was at a loss of words for a little while. She informed me that I was and had been under more stress for an extended period of time than most people (something I had kind of guessed) for a while. She advised me of the long-term effects of stress when we experience it for a longer than normal amount of time and recommended that I seek out a full physical from a medical doctor, which admittedly, I didn't do (who's got time for all that). Also admittedly, I stopped going to see the counselor too because being overwhelmed with life was hard enough, much less trying to find an hour to myself every two weeks.
When I got married in 2012, almost exactly five years ago, I never in a million years could have pictured my life becoming what it has become or experiencing even half of what I've been through. Just one of any of the events I've been through is enough to cause long-term issues and changes for someone. To experience them all, almost all at the same time, has been devastating. The constant stressors have affected my life in every way: physically, mentally, and emotionally. I am tired. My body hurts. My brain hurts. My eyes don't have tears left in them. I now doubt almost everything anyone tells me and I find myself angry at the world more often than not. My faith has been tested. When I say life has been a roller coaster, it truly has been a roller coaster. I've tried my best to hide it, but I really, really want off this ride, and soon.
For more than four years, I've lived life without a support system. When we found out we were having quadruplets, the first thing I wanted was to be surrounded by the people I love the most and to lean on them for love and support through what I knew was about to be the hardest chapter of my life yet. One thing after another has happened to make this the perfect storm for me and it seems as though Murphy's Law is in full affect. I've relied on the mercy and kindness of strangers far more often that I dreamt I ever would in my life. I've been hurt more by the people I love the most because of my own foolish expectations of them. And now, I've got a house full of kids whom I love dearly, no husband, a tiny long-distance support system, no childcare to work, and thus no income coming in. My life in crisis continues...