General Question

wundayatta's avatar

Have you ever experienced a time in your life that required serious emotional resilience?

Asked by wundayatta (58612points) April 9th, 2009

What was going on? How did you respond to it? What was it that enabled you to have such resilience?

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44 Answers

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

I think a lot of my life has been this way
but especially the last 3 months
at 35 weeks pregnant, I broke my leg, had to quit my job, 2 weeks later, my husband got laid off and a week later we found out my dad’s cancer has spread yet again, this time to his lungs…this was also when my 1st son’s dad decided he won’t be with him in the mornings either so I had to take care of a toddler (who only speaks russian and so my husband can’t always speak to him as he only speaks english) with a brace on my foot and 60 lbs more on my frame…and i started dilating (aka went into labor) 2 weeks prior to my due date and continued to be in this terrible pain all the way through actual labor…then the baby was born with fluid in lungs and had to be in the NICU as my other son got sick with a virus…right around all of this, I just about lost it…how did I respond to it? by crying in the bathtub, by worrying, by sticking to my gut instincts…with my husband, i can handle anything, truly

SeventhSense's avatar

My whole life. It only asks more and more every year. And every year my resilience grows. Don’t even get me started.

hearkat's avatar

Ummm… the first 40 years! Most of you know my story. Childhood sexual abuse; married an alcoholic, divorced him, and he subsequently died from liver failure leaving me to raise our son alone; was in another LTR with an insecure man for several years, lots of passion – good and bad; went through bankruptcy after a 2-year period of unemployment; chronic depression and self-esteem issues; recently was in a relationship that had tons of potential, but also didn’t work out; etc., etc…

In the heat of the moment, I get through by detaching and just doing what needs to be done—priorities. Then I take the time to work through the emotional toll of that particular event. I usually journal and write lengthy letters to the other party, use music to help me purge my negative emotions and then inspire me to look ahead to a brighter day.

My recent relationship attempt really surprised me at how I’ve learned to express my emotions without getting emotional—I used to let my emotions take over. Along with other things I recently experienced, I’ve seen that I have matured, and I can now say that I do love myself and I know that I’ll be fine no matter what challenges I have to face.

I wish we could connect to people’s comments as well as questions on Fluther, because I am primarily a commenter, and sometimes I feel like I get redundant.

hearkat's avatar

holy crap! I have to get up in 5 1/2 hours! Goodnight!

Zen's avatar

@SeventhSense I’ll show you mine if you show me yours…

VzzBzz's avatar

Yes. A few years back my grandfather who’d been as a father to me and also dearest friend, he died. I wanted to die too because there was nothing in my life I was looking forward to anymore that didn’t include him, all my plans had included him for another 10–15yrs. In any case, I was living in a state where I didn’t know anyone, living with someone I wanted to get away from and felt I had no one I wanted to confide in to ask to go to. I didn’t want to take medicine even though I knew I was in a depression so I just pushed through, got in touch with my mother and decided to transfer my plans to her and it gave me a focus to turn my life around again, all over again and several years later, I am me again.

adreamofautumn's avatar

I think most of my life has required serious emotional resilience. Before being diagnosed bipolar I didn’t even know what a mess I was only that I had to hold it together because I needed to get through school and into college and not mess up my life. I fought with myself with everything I had to keep my life together during those years. After getting a diagnosis it occurred to me that I have been successful and strong enough for this long that I could probably continue on without medication. At this point I am doing well with that, but when I slip (and I occasionally do) and start to feel like i’m “losing it” I have to call the resilience up 100x more than on a day to day basis, but each time I get through those slips I realize how strong I actually am and that makes me stronger for the next one that could come up.

Darwin's avatar

Probably the first time was when my husband went to the doctor for a check up and I didn’t hear from him for several hours, an unusually long time for that particular doctor. Then my husband called and asked if I would bring him some underwear as they were going to hang onto him for a bit (in the background I could hear some angry nurse hollering for him to “Sit your butt back down in that wheelchair, Mister!” Ya gotta love military medicine).

They ended up keeping him for six weeks, sending him home for one week (a disaster called “home health”) and then keeping him for six more weeks in another hospital 150 miles away. During this time no one would give me a straight answer on his prognosis (I found out later it was because they were convinced they were going to have to amputate his feet), I was working full time, and I had a 2 1/2 yo and a 6 month old to take care of.

That was really tough. However, it made his subsequent health crises much easier to cope with, including his quintuple bypass (where they taught me how to pack the wound so they could release him) and the time he was in a coma for three weeks when his gall bladder turned gangrenous and ruptured. That time the doc even asked me at one point if I had a black dress, because they were giving him about a 10% chance of survival.

It also caused me to formulate plans to make sure the kids and I could survive if he didn’t make it one of these times. As a result, I do take an SSRI for depression, I have paid off the mortgage and the truck, and I have taken early retirement and started my own business on the Internet so I can be at home.

Now every time I hear him snore I am happy, because I know he isn’t dead.

RedPowerLady's avatar

I most certainly have. This is quite a raw question because it asks people to talk about the hardest times of their life. I thought carefully about if I wanted to respond to it and I decided that you never know who you may help by telling your story. I know it has helped me to read the stories of others. For me, I needed to have emotional resilience when my son passed away. My son passed away shortly after birth. We knew before giving birth he was ill. There was nothing we could do. Not before birth and not after birth. It was an unpreventable and untreatable medical condition. This happened only a tad more than a year ago.

We did not respond to it well. I mean who could? I obviously became quite depressed. And we had more and more crap piled on us such as financial problems (due to medical and credit bills for hotel stays when visiting the special hospital and family). And also being told I have a medical condition that could make it hard for me to get pregnant again (oh and thanx to our fantastic political/health system I can’t get the needed surgery to fix the condition because I don’t have health insurance AND 6,000). Depression and Anxiety soon followed.

What helped us through this? Reading and talking to others who have survived the same thing. Counseling. Community support. A Strong Relationship. And a strong sense that anything I did was okay and right, that there was nothing wrong with my grief and mourning process. Also I think it is worth mentioning that many of the women I’ve talked to who have went through the same trauma I have found online. Online support has been a life saver for me.

cak's avatar

@DarwinWow. I am always amazed.

The things that were shared on here, wow. Truly wow.

I think I have spent more time needing to be emotionally resilient than not. What we realized today, though – I’ve had to say good-bye to 8 friends this year. All died from cancer. What might have numbed me to that fact, was the passing of my father. Of course he overshadowed everything. He still does. I can’t breathe sometimes, it still hurts so damn much. To realize that I’ve been to eight funerals of women that I was friends with, this year alone, numbs me. All eight had children. All eight were married. All eight had the world at their finger tips. All eight died of cancer, various forms.

This all came up because my husband was pissed off that I don’t seem happy to be almost finished with treatments and the whole mess. If I celebrate, I feel like I am being disrespectful to the families of those eight fantastic friends. I realized that I feel guilty for getting better. What if I hadn’t, then one of them might be alive. Then that would leave my children motherless.

See where this goes? So what to do? Right now, do nothing, because I can’t. Because next week, I have 3 little girls, that have no mother now, coming to stay with me. I get show them pictures of their mother when we first met, 6 years ago, before cancer. Kara, Madison and Olivia look like their mother. It’s hard to look at them, because this huge laugh is supposed to be right behind them. It’s not there, not where I want it to be. I’ll do it, though. I’m glad to be there for them. My daughter is ready for her, my son is beside himself! He’s so excited. He loves the girls. He’s confused. He doesn’t know how talk about people that have died. He still struggles to talk about his papa.

For now, I have to tough it out. I have to work through this coming up week, without falling completely apart. I’m excited and scared, but prepared.

filmfann's avatar

Three times at least, and I hate to think about them even now.
Once, I had a daughter descending into drugs and gangs, and abandoning her family, and it spilled out into a huge mess.
Second, I had a sociopath for a boss trying to fire me.
Third, my mother fell into a coma, and we had to take her off life support.
I got through the first two with the support of friends, therapy, and my faith.
The third required all of those, and the focus of doing what my mother wanted, rather than what I wanted. It relieved my anxiety over choices being made, since she was explicit on what she wanted.

Zen's avatar

@filmfann And that was just one week?

Zen's avatar


(Sorry to make light of it – I was kidding – don’t mind me, I’m drunk)

filmfann's avatar

Just writing about that is enough to make me want to join you in a few drinks.

Darwin's avatar

@cak – Don’t you think your eight friends would celebrate your progress with all the bells and whistles they could muster? There is nothing for you to feel guilty about. You are still here for your kids and for their kids, too.

I, too, have lost a number of friends, some from cancer, some from other illnesses. Should I feel guilty because I am healthy and they died? No! As long as I am alive they are alive. I can remember Olena’s smile, Alda’s red hair, Bab’s stories of being a secretary in WWII Washington, June’s patience, and Harry’s quick wit, so they are not entirely gone from this world.

Mourn your friends’ fates, but never feel guilty.

Now I think it would be a good idea for me to go to bed. I have physical therapy in the morning, and the kids are out of school.

Zen's avatar

@filmfann That’s why I added it. Cheers!

Zen's avatar

Lurve to you all. (hic)

Darwin's avatar

L’chaim! To life!

Zen's avatar

@Darwin Mazel Tov!

cak's avatar

To Life, and thank you Darwin! you are absolutely correct. They would be celebrating!

crisw's avatar

My mother passed away a few months ago. She had been in declining health for years, since a stroke and a broken hip left her wheelchair-bound. Up until her last illness, she was all there mentally, just her body was broken.

On Thanksgiving day, she went into the hospital with acute kidney failure. She was delirious- she had no idea where she was. While in the hospital, she contracted MRSA and VRE, two strains of “hospital bugs.” Even though the kidney failure abated, she didn’t get better- she was still confused. Even in her confusion, she worried only about us. We would get calls at midnight from her, asking if we had all made it home safely.

Shortly before Christmas, she was discharged to a nursing home. She had been doing better; the plan was that she would get a couple of weeks of physical therapy and then move to a great small senior home we had found. But it was not to be.

Once in the nursing home, she basically crashed. My mom spent most of her life working in nursing homes; deep inside, she knew what being there meant. She just gave up. She stopped eating and drinking. The MRSA returned. She grew more and more confused and inconsolable- I would come in and she would be screaming “Help, help!”- and no one answered (the facility was chronically understaffed.) She grew weaker and weaker, and we called in hospice. Two weeks later, she passed away.

Our family is pretty close-knit, and I was the support and the leader for my three sisters. I made all the calls, fought with the facility, visited every day, handled the hospice visits, held my sisters as they cried, did what I could. I kept myself sane by long walks, playing with the dogs, and doing escapist stuff with my husband. A sense of humor also helped. But there is no denying how rough it was.

hungryhungryhortence's avatar

A relative of mine was terminally ill and I knew they were going to kill themselves but didn’t tell anyone else. They waited a few years but then they started eating less and less. I knew what was going on and they died within a few months.

evelyns_pet_zebra's avatar

The emotional resilience only lasts so long, then the mental imbalances set in. I’ve been as resilient as Hell for years, now it culminates in depression and the desire to take my own life. Thank Evelyn for pharmaceuticals.

I never thought such things would ever happen to me, I thought I was resilient enough to withstand such things.

SeventhSense's avatar

Meds are great when warranted. No doubt.

aviona's avatar

Living in Costa Rica.
Culture shock + living away from home for the first time at the age of 18. Being in college for the first time with no one that I know. Language barrier. Having my boyfriend date other people back in the US. Lack of communication with home. Homesickness. Getting robbed.
A lot of my resilience was learned from my studies and the people I met. A portfolio of all my work was our final product of the semester (rather than final exams). I look back at it often to remind myself of and try to rekindle that strength.

asmonet's avatar

Right now.
The light at the end of the tunnel is a long way off indeed.

VS's avatar

There have been a series of very trying times in my life – a few required strength I never knew was in me. Most recently although 25 years ago was my mom’s passing from colon cancer. She fought a valiant two-year battle including colostomy, chemo, radiation, & remission. The cancer moved into her lymph nodes and the final four months were horrendous. As an only child very close to my mom, it was so hard watching a once robust, fun-loving woman like my mom, nicknamed Cookie, descend into despair, unable to eat, and wasting away to 80 pounds until death mercifully took her to a better place. Without the support of my husband and 10 year-old son, I’m not sure I would made it through that with my mental health in tact.
My other most trying time was following the murder of my first husband. While we were separated at the time due to his abusiveness, no way in this or any other world, could I have expected to learn of his death on the radio. I was in a half-awake, half-asleep state at 4 a.m. one Saturday morning, and heard his name in connection with a shooting death on S. Gregg Street which was the apartment I had just moved from about two weeks before. I was unclear at to what exactly had happened. I called the radio station and asked them about the news broadcast. They referred me to the city police detective on the case. I asked him about the shooting and he said “what do you want to know?” I told him I wanted to know if Johnson was the victim or the suspect. He reported that he was the victim. So at 5 am on a lovely Saturday morning in March, I found myself a 24 year-old widow with a 9 month-old baby. The week that following is what I imagine hell to be like if such a place exists. I suspect the high point of the ensuing madness was my in-laws accusations that I had had my husband murdered and their attempts at having me banished from his funeral. Sadly their response meant they never had an opportunity to know their only grandson. I never saw or heard anything from them once I left the cemetary. I have to assume the strength it took to get me through that time in my life came from within and was the product of really good genes courtesy of mostly my mom and some from my dad.
While I have lost several friends in the last two decades, for the most part, my middle age has been without tragedy or illness of those close to me.

adreamofautumn's avatar

@Zen I really don’t believe in atypical anti-psychotics and refuse to put them into my system until the day comes when I really can’t hold it together anymore. I absolutely condone the use of them for others who feel that it is the right direction for them, but I just do not feel comfortable with the idea for myself. Until they find a way to create a drug that isn’t completely full of negative side effects and that doesn’t make the situation worse if you try and get off them, then I really have no prerogative to go down that road. I don’t say it’s wrong for those that want to, it’s just not me. The fight is hard, but at least it’s me and it’s real and it’s life and i’m okay with that.

evelyns_pet_zebra's avatar

@asmonet you gotta be careful, sometimes the light at the end of the tunnel is an oncoming train. Sort of like that scene from Pink Floyd’s The Wall when Pinkie puts the bullet on the track.

Zen's avatar

@adreamofautumn okay.

(Why did you post that to me, dear?)

asmonet's avatar

@evelyns_pet_zebra: Well, that’s fucking cheery. Thanks.~

casheroo's avatar

Plenty of times, this one sticks out.

I found out I was pregnant, when taking very unsafe medications for depression and anxiety. I instantly came off the medications, and dived into experimental therapy. My doctors really wanted me on antidepressants, but I refused. I was determined to not let the baby growing inside of me to be exposed to those drugs. I went to all my therapy and worked hard on my mental health. I didn’t want to be anxious while pregnant, so I didn’t transfer any of it to my baby, and it an also cause pre-term labor.
I began to find other resources, to overcome my anxiety. It worked. I have been med free for over two years, I didn’t get PPD because I stuck with therapy throughout my pregnancy and post-partum (just in case). My son was my inspiration to become a stronger person. Without him, I would have failed, and not had the ambition to get better. But overall, I know it was me that fought it. I was also lucky to have a husband to help me through the rough times, hold my hand when I needed to cry and wonder if I’d ever get better. I’m so thankful for those two men in my life.

adreamofautumn's avatar

@Zen because you posted one to me that said “meds?” You really shouldn’t drink and fluther ;) haha.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

I was also on meds when I got pregnant (the 2nd time)...and I tapered from 10 to 1 mg but stayed on them to prevent PPD (as I had it pretty badly the first time around)...after he was born I increased to 2.5 and am breastfeeding so I am taking a risk but no therapy in the world helps me as my issues are because of physical stressors not environmental ones…aka my hormones and serotonin go haywire because of severe physical stress and not because i’m unhappy

casheroo's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir That makes sense you stayed on them, because of your history of PPD, I’m so sorry you ever had to go through that. Has it prevented it from rearing it’s nasty head the second time? I start showing signs of anxiety when severely stressed as well, but I’ve never had to go what you did, physically. I don’t imagine I’d do as well as you did with all you were burdened with. Good luck, I hope one day you can come off the medicine!

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

it totally prevented it..i wasn’t playing to raise it from 1 but i started getting anxiety again and right then and there that day i increased meds…

Zen's avatar

@adreamofautumn (Am I drinking and fluthering OY! Thought I was on, had two browsers open – sorry guys – (Note to self: log off

asmonet's avatar

@Zen: Note to Zen: That shouldn’t be a problem much longer. :P

Zen's avatar

@asmonet True.


lucillelucillelucille's avatar

Yes.Death ,health ,love,rape,family,friends and other jackasses ;)).Anytime a problem comes up,I like to meet it head on.It’s it my nature to be that way.Stubborness helps too ;)When you’ve done all you can,then it’s just time that will lessen the pain.

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