Coping without your coping mechanism is difficult

Everyone has a coping mechanism, even if we don’t realize we have them. Sometimes it’s just the need to talk to family and friends. For some it might be something creative, like painting. I once interviewed an artist who suffered from bipolar disorder. Painting was how she coped with her mental health problems.

And sometimes you don’t realize how important those coping mechanisms are until they’re threatened.

I’ve gotten back into a good gym routine since the beginning of the year. I used to frequent the gym several times per week up until when Millburn-Short Hills Patch launched. I even had a personal trainer for a short period. But once the site launched, one of the first in the network, my work life exploded and things started falling out of my personal life. Among them was my gym routine. I tried to get back at it when I switched jobs, but then some questions about the health of my heart kept me from the gym for longer.

What I didn’t realize until fairly recently was how important that gym routine is to my mental health.

If I have a bad day (and my bad days are very diverse in nature), all I want to do is go to the gym. There’s no cell phone, no work to be done, no drama from so-called friends, no family calling making demands. It’s just the gym equipment, my music and me. I think about stuff, sure, but I’m working out things in my head or just releasing whatever is bothering me through my workout. I’m sweating it out.

A little over a week ago my left leg started hurting me, though. It was a weird pain, and I worried I had a stress fracture from all the weight training I’ve been doing. I said to myself I needed to rest my leg, but then I had a terrible day the following day. I was upset to begin with because of the things happening around me, but I got more upset thinking about how I couldn’t go to the gym to sweat it out. I was in nuclear meltdown mode, which is not a feeling I like. Those days have been few and far between since I started Zoloft again last November.

A friend sent me a note saying she understood because she had an injury preventing her from running and cycling. She was a mess. She told me to just go to the gym if I felt it was necessary. So the following day that’s what I did because I felt like the consequences on my mental health were far worse than anything on my leg, but I did take it easy. I dialed it back and decided to slowly start pushing myself again over time. I have felt better for it.

Do you have coping mechanisms? Have you ever had to work without them? Post about them in the comments.


About Jen

Jen is a social media producer and a local journalist at heart. When not trying to take over the journalism world she writes, takes lots of photos and roots on her beloved New York Rangers and Mets.

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