When people are overwhelmed and frustrated, friends and family are often understanding and supportive, at least at first. Soon after, as some recovery progress is made, support turns into encouragement to do more and get more done. Family members may want the client to go back to a previous level of activity and take on old responsibilities and duties. When the client appears overwhelmed or unable to rise to ordinary levels, you might hear: “Just do as much as you can!”
Or the statement may come from clients themselves: “I’m just doing as much as I can.”
Observing the Warning Signs
At first glance, this seems to be a reasonable statement, although somewhat defensive. But imagine a driver who drives as far as he can before refueling, only to run out of gas on the freeway. It would have been far better to find an exit and refuel before running out of gas. In the same way, we have a limited amount of emotional energy and fuel. Watch for signs of running low on energy such as tiredness, irritability, and depression and refuel before you’re “out of gas.”
Doing as much as you possibly can, only to exhaust all reserves and spend yourself down to nothing, is short-sighted and unwise. To prevent running out of fuel, watch the gas gauge or in the case of emotional fatigue, observe the warning signs. Resting, conserving energy, and refueling before you’re empty can prevent over-tiredness, eliminate collapse and keep you running smoothly on the road to a strong recovery.
Recovery is a Journey. Enjoy the Ride!