Running on Empty

I truly believe at any given moment, we’re all doing the best we can. All of us. And our best looks different from week to week, day to day, and even moment to moment. Sometimes our best looks like excelling at work, school, or home. We’re productive and focused. We can see a what we want and we’re going after it. We’re managing the household and getting the kids to school on time.

And sometimes our best looks a lot different. It’s those moments when we’re crying on the floor of the shower, getting suspended from school, or just going numb and turning it all off. Our best may not look like much to someone looking in, but sometimes what doesn’t look like much to someone else, is everything we have left. Sometimes, we’re running on empty.

I’ve worked with kids in residential programs where one day they’re meeting every expectation and the next, they’re carving “F*ck you” into the side of an employee’s car. I’ve talked with parents who talk about how they lose control sometimes or how sometimes they wish they could go on vacation without one of their children, and I’ve seen people struggle with addiction. Time and time again, I’ll say the same thing—they’re doing their best.

Our behaviors—vandalizing staff cars, losing our cool, and looking to substances do not reflect the quality of a person, but it does reflect their inner world. That kid who carved those words into the side of that car, well, he was one of my favorites. He was funny, kind, and considerate. He also was made to feel powerless and unimportant by some adults in his life. So, in that moment, he was going to make sure he was heard. Parents who are devastated over losing control often feel like everyone needs something from them. They’re drained. Every conversation, every task, every request—is a fight. They’re tired and they lost it. And people who struggle with substance use, they prefer a world altered by substances than reality. I can’t help but wonder how unkind reality has been to them.

Every person has a story. And every person makes sense in their own context. I know you’re doing your best.

And for every person running on empty, I’ll ask one vital question: how do you fill back up? For some, you might just need a nap and a snack. I don’t care if you’re 3 or 53, this method is gold. For others, maybe you need to start asking for help—help around the house, help with the kids, help understanding your depression, or help managing your anxiety. The way you’re feeling doesn’t have to be forever, reach out to someone who can help you fill back up. Finding community and support is essential to our health and well-being. Life takes a village and we want to be a part of yours.

***The information contained herein is not therapeutic advice nor a substitute for therapy. It should not be used to diagnose or treat any mental health problem. If you are located within the United States and you need emergency assistance please call 911 or go to your nearest emergency room. If you are located within Colorado you may also call the Colorado Crisis Line at 844-493-TALK (8255).

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