9 Things You Should Do When Your Life Is Falling Apart

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Much like the sea, life comes at you in waves.

Sometimes you’re riding high on the crest of a wave, with everything going well and life looking beautiful.

Other times, you find yourself in the trough, struggling to keep yourself afloat while you’re being battered from all sides.

It’s hard and often lonely, even when you’re surrounded by people you love, people you care about, people who love you and care about you in return.

Because whilst other people can sometimes help, when your life is falling apart, you’re usually the one who has to try to keep the pieces from falling. Later, you’ll be the one to put them back together.

And really, that’s what we’re going to cover. In this article, we’re going to give you some ideas on how to handle the practical and emotional sides of your life falling apart.

Of course, not everything is going to work for everyone. If you don’t feel like a particular point resonates with you, that’s okay! Take what you can use and leave the rest.

Let’s focus on the situation-specific tips first, then we’ll get to the more general, emotional tips.

Speak to an accredited and experienced therapist to help you deal with the practical and emotional difficulties you currently face in life. You may want to try speaking to one via BetterHelp.com for quality care at its most convenient.

1. Dealing with losing a job.

Losing a job can be terrifying. One day, everything seems to be going well, and the next, everything is seemingly hanging by a thread.

Your mind is ablaze with questions…

Can you afford food? What about the rent that’s due soon? What about the kids? What about the upkeep of your vehicle? Will you be able to find another job before you burn through your savings? If you even have savings to begin with!

There’s so much uncertainty that it can keep you up at night.

So, what can you do? Other than the obvious point of getting another job, quickly.

Immediately file for any unemployment benefits that may be available to you. It’s not going to be a lot of money, but it will at least be something that can help keep the lights on. The process may take weeks or months before you get your first payment, so you’ll want to file for these benefits immediately if you get fired or laid off.

Get yourself some food. Reach out to local food banks or call *211 (if you’re in the U.S.) and ask if any services can help someone who just lost their job. They may be able to help you with housing expenses, food, or bills for a little while.

Please do not starve yourself because you don’t want to accept charity. Many food banks (at least where this author lives) end up throwing out perfectly good food because people are too prideful to accept help, and it goes to waste.

Instead of looking at it as charity, look at it as a temporary loan. Donate a few bucks to the food bank so they can help other people in your community when you’re back on your feet.

And, of course, get grinding on finding another job. You already know that, but I bring this up to give you a piece of advice that will save you a lot of time and energy: do not just apply for “lesser” jobs because you think they will be easier to get.

This author has worked plenty of retail, restaurant, and manual labor jobs. They typically do not hire people with college degrees and real job experience to do things like washing dishes because they know it’s just a temporary stopgap for you. They know that as soon as a better-paying job opens up, you’re going to jump to that.

So either apply to vacancies equal to or greater than your previous jobs or leave certain things off your application and resume. You don’t have to include everything. For example, leaving your college degree off or understating your previous job experience is better for landing one of those jobs.

And yes, I’m aware that some people would consider this unethical, but frankly, if you have to feed your kids, then you gotta do what you gotta do. Play fair when the game’s fair, but this game isn’t fair.

2. Prioritize what bills you need to pay.

First and foremost, make sure your method of transportation is squared away. If you have a car, your car payment needs to be your priority. You can’t drive an apartment to work. Your transportation needs to be your priority.

Next is your rent or mortgage.

After that, everything else.

Notify your various utilities and people you owe money to and ask if they have any temporary programs for people who lost their jobs. There are a variety of institutions that will give you a little reprieve on those debts if you just ask. This also includes internet service providers.

You may also be able to secure a phone or internet access through *211 as well. These things are viewed as essential because you pretty much need them to get a job.

Lots of places have free Wi-Fi as well. Check truck stops, fast food places, and coffee shops if you need internet access and don’t have it. Libraries are also a good place to get connected.

If you owe any medical bills or incur any medical expenses while you’re unemployed, call up the hospital and ask for a payment plan or debt forgiveness. You may qualify for Medicaid or other programs that reduce or eliminate these costs. They usually don’t advertise these kinds of programs, though. You have to ask their financial departments.

3. Navigating relationship or marital issues.

If you are having problems in your relationship that you cannot get resolved on your own, go see a relationship counselor. They can help you better develop communication skills, get to the root of the issue, and hopefully fix it before it becomes an insurmountable problem.

Far too many people could have saved their relationship if only they had sought professional help sooner. Unfortunately, if you wait too long, there is usually too much resentment, anger, and bitterness to easily deal with or overcome.

Nip those problems in the bud. Sometimes it’s helpful to have a neutral, third-party referee who can help guide you through your anger and the rockiness. RelationshipHero.com is our recommendation for relationship counseling.

Know what you cannot compromise on before you ever get into a relationship. There are some pretty important keys to compatibility that can doom a relationship before it ever gets going. These include:

Extremely different lifestyles and spending habits. One person is a saver, one person is a spender. One person lives to party; the other is a quiet homebody. Some differences are good because they allow both parties to learn and grow. However, stark differences can make a relationship extremely difficult. Discuss the future you want to see together and make sure you’re on the same page.

One wants kids, one doesn’t. This isn’t a point you can really negotiate on. Many divorces happen because one partner wanted kids, decided to have kids, resented their partner, and then left the relationship. If one of you doesn’t want kids and the other wants nothing more than to have a family, you’re going to have a bad time.

Political or social beliefs. The current political and social climate is ripping families apart. Make sure that you don’t have diametrically opposing views on politics, society, or religion.

Now, if you’ve found yourself in a bad relationship where you can’t get past whatever differences are causing the relationship to fall apart, be thankful! You’ve now learned something that doesn’t work for you.

And while heartbreak sucks and a relationship ending brings uncertainty and change, it also brings with it an opportunity for you to find someone who is a better fit for you. So take what lessons you can from that love and relationship and know that they will be useful to your future relationships.

4. Mental health issues or crisis.

Mental illness is no joke. It causes lost jobs, opportunities, homelessness, suicides, breaks up families, and so much more. If you’re having a hard time, contemplating hurting yourself or someone else, or feel so overwhelmed that you cannot function, do yourself a favor and try to get some help.

You can try the crisis hotline (1-800-273-8255.) Your county may have a local warmline, which is like a crisis line, but it’s more for people who are having a hard time but aren’t quite at crisis level yet.

You can try calling local mental health professionals and looking for an opening. If you are broke, ask if they can direct you to any low-cost services aimed at helping people below the poverty line. They exist, but you need to ask about them.

Many professionals offer a sliding scale to try to lower the expenses of seeking help.

“Talking about it isn’t going to help. Talking about it isn’t going to undo this terrible thing that happened to me or put more money in my bank account, so I can pay these bills.”

Listen, as someone with Bipolar Disorder who’s been through all of that, I’m going to tell you right now that the system sucks. And the reason the system sucks is that there is far more demand than there is supply. No, a mental health professional isn’t going to fix all your problems. They aren’t going to fix your mental illness or fix you. They aren’t going to be able to help you pay your bills.

What they can do is teach you the skills and provide you the treatments that you may need to be able to get your own two feet back under you so you can stand on your own. They can teach you how to manage stress and be a safe place to talk about the things on your mind that you don’t feel comfortable sharing with your friends, family, and loved ones.

And unless you’re in crisis, there’s a pretty good chance you’re going to find yourself on a waiting list for services. So don’t waste your emotional and mental energy being sad about it. That’s just the way it is. That’s the way it was before COVID, it’s even worse now, and it probably will be for a long, long time. Still, get on that wait-list.

But if you’re in crisis or contemplating hurting yourself or someone else, you may need to go in-patient or go to an emergency room for more immediate help.

Alright, so we’ve covered some more practical angles of your life falling apart. Next, let’s focus on some emotional and mental angles.

5. “This, too, shall pass.”

Ever heard this phrase? Most likely. It’s a simple four-word sentence that’s been floating around for hundreds of years, attributed to multiple people, and perfectly encompasses much about the human condition.

“This, too, shall pass.”

It’s saying that no matter what you’re dealing with right now, sooner or later, it will change. That’s not just the bad things; it’s also the good things. Life isn’t great all the time. In fact, for some folks, it’s not great the majority of the time. And that’s pretty normal. Life can be hard. You have to deal with illness, relationship problems, job problems, dealing with jerks, social problems, and of course… politicians.

But wherever you are, whatever you’re going through, whatever you’re dealing with, you can know that this too shall pass. It may pass like a kidney stone, but it will pass. Sooner or later. You can and will survive it.

6. Embrace gratitude.

From this writer’s personal experience, I used to really detest the ideas of positive thinking and gratitude. I’ve been living with Bipolar Disorder, heavy on the depression side, for a long time. I viewed it as pointless navel-gazing and wishing upon a star… like that’s really going to help with all this dark stuff spinning in my brain like a whirlpool in a septic tank.

But let me tell you, I eventually realized I was wrong. Also stubborn. Wrong and stubborn.

You see, positive thinking and gratitude are not about ignoring your problems. The problems we face are often so heavy that they command a dominant amount of our thoughts and feelings. The more you dwell in them, the worse they get. In the mental health field, this is called “rumination.” Where you just sit in that septic tank whirlpool and just keep absorbing all of that toxicity.

It doesn’t do anything to help you. It doesn’t make you any more or less real. If anything, it could be interpreted as a means of self-harm because you’re just flagellating yourself with your problems, making yourself feel worse for no real reason.

But sometimes, we can find a faint silver lining in the gray. Something that we can feel positive about, even in the pain. And sometimes, we can even find things to be grateful for in that pain. While easily viewed as cliché and oversold by influencers and gurus, gratitude is powerful because it helps you focus on something positive in the darkness.

I don’t want this relationship to end, but I am thankful that I had the opportunity to love and be loved by this person. I’m thankful for what this experience has taught me. I’m thankful for the opportunity to move forward and love again.

It’s not good that I lost this job. I’m afraid, uncertain. I have bills to pay and hungry mouths to feed. But I am grateful that I am healthy enough to work, have some experience I can use to leverage myself into another job, and that I’m still breathing to be able to try.

That being said, some things are just terrible, and it’ll be damned near impossible to find any kind of silver lining in the terrible thing. That’s okay too. You can accept and embrace that the thing is terrible without trying to pretty it up, especially if it needs to be viewed in all of its raw ugliness.

7. Create a self-care routine.

The importance of self-care while going through tough times cannot be understated. It’s so very important to try to give your brain a little break from whatever you’re dealing with for a little while. If you don’t have a regular self-care routine, now is a great time to develop one.

Just pick one day, block out some time on that day, and do whatever makes your soul happy. And if nothing is currently making your soul happy, do something healthy. Make a healthy meal, get some exercise, play with the pets; just do something that will take your mind off your present situation.

That’s a good habit to regularly get in as it is. Regular exercise, good sleep, and cutting back on unhealthy substances can improve your mental health. Moods are tied heavily to how much we sleep and what we put in our bodies. The cleaner you can keep it, the better you’ll feel, the easier it will be to deal with the stress.

Try to avoid those unhealthy habits.

8. Know when to fight. Know when to fold.

It’s tempting to try to cling to what you had. After all, that’s what was making you happy, bringing you comfort, or providing for you. Some people will fight tooth-and-nail to try to preserve this thing that is already dissolving, already gone. They just refuse to accept the reality of the situation until it punches them squarely in the face.

There’s a time to fight, and there’s a time to fold. Knowing when to walk away and let that situation crumble will save you so much peace of mind and turmoil in the future.

Sometimes, it’s just not worth it. Or worse yet, it was never worth it. We just cling to these things because we’re not in the right mental space to treat ourselves with love and respect, like holding on to an unhealthy, unhappy relationship. After all, it feels comfortable, even though it’s miserable.

Take a long hard look at what’s crumbling for you. Is it a good thing? Is it a healthy thing? Is the other person already checked out? Has a decision already been made for you that you can’t undo? If that’s the case, then it may be better to just go with the flow and let the chips fall where they may.

However, suppose the other parties in the situation are still invested in trying to keep things together. In that case, it may be worthwhile to keep trying to fight for it.

9. Take just one small step.

When your life is falling apart, it often feels like everything is crashing down on you at once. It can be so difficult to look around and see any kind of bright future ahead of you.

That’s okay. That’s normal.

What you want to avoid is languishing in place. You may not be able to take great leaps on to the next thing you want to get to. You may need to take some time to rest and heal before moving forward again.

And when you do, you only need to focus on taking the next small step forward. A single step will get you moving toward where you want to be again. Even if it’s just putting in one job application, or sending off one DM, or just getting out there for a short walk.

Every long journey is composed of many small steps. So if you keep putting one foot in front of the other, eventually, you’ll get to where you want to be. Or maybe you’ll end up someplace even better that you could never have imagined while you were going through it.

Don’t give up. Don’t let the dark thoughts sweep you under. This will pass, and you will move on to something better for you.

Are your circumstances getting you down? Need a helping hand to get through this? Talking to someone can really help you to handle whatever life throws at you. It’s a great way to get your thoughts and your worries out of your head so you can work through them.

A therapist is often the best person you can talk to. Why? Because they are trained to help people in situations like yours. They can help you to tackle the most pressing issues you face and cope with the situation emotionally.

BetterHelp.com is a website where you can connect with a therapist via phone, video, or instant message.

You might not think your problems are big enough to warrant professional therapy but please don’t do yourself that disservice. Nothing is insignificant if it is affecting your mental well-being.

Too many people try to muddle through and do their best to overcome issues that they never really get to grips with. If it’s at all possible in your circumstances, therapy is 100% the best way forward.

Here’s that link again if you’d like to learn more about the service BetterHelp.com provide and the process of getting started.

You’ve already taken the first step just by searching for and reading this article. The worst thing you can do right now is nothing. The best thing is to speak to a therapist. The next best thing is to implement everything you’ve learned in this article by yourself. The choice is yours.

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About The Author

Jack Nollan is a person who has lived with Bipolar Disorder and Bipolar-depression for almost 30 years now. Jack is a mental health writer of 10 years who pairs lived experience with evidence-based information to provide perspective from the side of the mental health consumer. With hands-on experience as the facilitator of a mental health support group, Jack has a firm grasp of the wide range of struggles people face when their mind is not in the healthiest of places. Jack is an activist who is passionate about helping disadvantaged people find a better path.