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How Adjustment Disorder Is Like ‘Riding the Waves’

Adjustment disorder — when intense anxiety or stress is caused by changes in life — was not something I knew existed until I was diagnosed with it. I found myself in the hospital after self-harm and suicidal ideation, and that was the diagnosis I was given. It made perfect sense because over the last three to four months, I had had about seven major life changes. I had broken up with my partner of six years, who kicked me out without a place to go, a way to get around or a way to communicate with people. I also had to quit my current job at the time for a new one because I wasn’t making enough money to pay all of the bills I suddenly had. I lost my dog because my ex-partner kept him as well. It had been a bad few months for me, and I eventually hit a breaking point.

I learned about adjustment disorders in the hospital. Sure, I had a couple of medication changes, but medication can only do so much. I was told that my adjustment disorder would take a lot of time and a lot of therapy. I have learned a lot about how this whole disorder operates.

I see it like I’m surfing and riding the waves. Some days, I can ride the waves just fine, and other days the waves knock me down. Some days I’m strong enough to pull myself back up on the board, and other days I’m holding onto the board for dear life, struggling to keep my head above water. The thing is, I never know if I’ll be able to ride the waves or not, and what will happen if I can’t ride the waves. Adjustment disorder is exactly like that. Some days are good days, and I do just fine. Other days are rough and hard to get through, but I still get through them with much effort. This is how my life is right now as I mourn the loss of what once was my life and try to adjust to my new life. I know, one day, I will wake up and the sea will have calmed down to where there are no waves to ride at all.

For now, I go to therapy often and I take my medications as directed. I take it one day at a time, and try my best to ride the waves. I try not to put any expectations on anything as I am currently grieving what was and still trying to adjust to what is. It’s not an easy place to be stuck, but I know I won’t be stuck here forever. Nothing can prepare you for the future; healing from an adjustment disorder takes time, just like it takes time to heal from heartbreak, but eventually, the sun rises to bring light into the darkness for a new day. Every day is different, everything that happens each day is unique, but rough waters today could give way to smooth sailing tomorrow.

Photo by Sweet Ice Cream Photography on Unsplash

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