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Reaching the Breaking Point Is Hard to Do... Or Is It?

Hey, all. I'm thinking back to a time last May when my life was a living hell, and it was when I was this close to snapping, or I actually did snap. I honestly can't remember. I had taken some vacation time earlier after everything that happened last Memorial Day weekend, and it was sorely needed. I know what you're thinking.... What does this vacation mode look like? Well, for starters... I was off social media through August. I needed that. I didn't submit for acting opportunities or attending auditions around the clock. I needed that. I worked out more often. I needed that. I journaled every night before I went to bed. I needed that. I saw a therapist and monitored my medication. I needed that. I somewhat caught up on my reading. I needed that. I attempted to go with the flow more often. I needed that. I've tried to figure out how to escape it all for several days. I need that. So as you can see... I DEFINITELY needed a bit of R&R to heal, recover, and reflect on everything that's happened to put things into focus. Yes, it meant being disconnected from friends, acquaintances, and industry connections for most of the summer. Yes, it meant potentially missing out on some great acting opportunities and roles for an extended period and not even seeing some theatre for a while. Yes, it meant my evenings are for me, exercising, cooking, and relaxing. Yes, it meant I'm catching up on some sleep and getting my strength back. Yes, I had to talk to a therapist and increase my medication dosage until I felt better. It was a new reality for me as I recovered from reaching something we're all liable to experience many times in our lives... And that's the breaking point.

Think about it: You go about your life and career doing the same things to a perfect syncopated beat, and sometimes, things start to change unexpectedly. Your duties become heavier when people you rely on leave or hurt you cruelly. An unexpected expense, a death in the family, a trip to the hospital, or something traumatic upends your life in drastic ways. All the wrong things and moments seem to pile up simultaneously and become unbearable. And yet... You push yourself in your duties to avoid all the nagging in the back of your mind telling you, "It's too much!" "STOP!" And people around you continue to go about their days as if nothing has happened while you're doing your best to keep everything together while realizing that you're barely hanging on by a thread. Then, one day... You snap. You break down crying. You scream and wail at the top of your lungs. You unleash all the frustration, stress, and anger bubbling inside for weeks, even months, out on all those you love without stopping to breathe. You tremble and shake. You curse God, the universe, or the fates for putting you in this predicament. You can't keep doing the same things and keep it all together anymore, even when people count on you to do your job to keep business and life running smoothly. You are mentally and emotionally exhausted even when you can't think or walk long distances. It's all too much. And it hurts like hell to reach this breaking point and harm others because of all the wrong things piling up so high, like the Eiffel Tower, only to have it come crashing down when you can't carry this weight anymore. It's too much to handle, as is the case. I've reached my breaking point... And it was more than twice. It seemed like there were mini and massive breaking points where I just collapsed and cried, screamed, wailed, cursed, and pleaded to escape my horrible state. And I often broke down in front of my friends and family. Seeing the sadness, pain, and anxiety in their eyes as I unraveled in front of them wasn't the best feeling in the world, primarily when I've been known to keep it together. I was a mess. For over five weeks last year, I barely functioned at 50% of what I could give, and I was mentally and emotionally exhausted. And that made me feel even worse. If you want a better picture of what it's like to reach your breaking point, how about this: It looks like you're falling into a hole that seems to get deeper when another bad thing gets added to the rest of the terrible things that are piling up. No matter how slowly you climb up the muddy hole, there's always a chance you'll be sliding backward, making climbing back up the light much more difficult. You become tired of trying to climb back up the hole, and the mud is too much for you; you feel it's better to stay there and give up. What's the point? But then you realize that staying put is not doing you any good and that the only way to get out of your hole is to crawl... Very slowly. No matter how much progress you make in a day, you know that somewhere inside you, the tiny voice is encouraging you to keep going. You CAN get out of this hole, and if you have to stop to catch your breath for a while, that's okay. You can try again tomorrow. But please, keep going. Giving up is NOT an option to get out of this hole; no one will pull you out unless you do the work yourself. But how do you get out of the hole, and how long do you have to get out of there? Well, I still climb out of the hole, even after the long stretch of rough patches I went through, but I'm in a much better place than where I was back in late last May. But the thing that's keeping me going to crawl out of the hole is how it's essential to go slowly, and whatever progress you've made to get closer to the sunlight is still progress just the same. And going slowly looks different for everyone. It can look like sleeping in until noon for several days in a row to ensure you have enough rest and energy. It can look like watching your favorite shows and films on repeat without shame. It can look like going on long walks with music playing in your ears and enjoying nature and its beauty. It can look like going to the hair salon and trying something new and radical with your hair. It can look like cooking your favorite recipes or trying something new, or even having takeout from some of your favorite restaurants. It can look like reading books in your favorite chair and having tea or hot chocolate nearby. It can look like journaling your thoughts and reflections of the day at the end of the day. It can look like shopping at your favorite stores and buying new outfits and shoes. It can look like typing a blog post on this very topic or something entirely different. But the truth is, going slowly looks differently for everyone recovering from reaching their breaking point, and it may not always be the same formula that's good for one individual. For me, it's a culmination of all those things and more. But as I continue to rest and relax, I'm learning more and more about my limitations and boundaries about how much going slowly I can do in a daily and weekly span. As much as I love to act, I see that going full-steam ahead without much of a break, even with the stress involved with all of the downtime, can wear you down quickly and leave you mentally and emotionally exhausted. I'm developing a real knack and passion for cooking and baking. Still, as I constantly find myself running to the grocery store for ingredients and making magic in the kitchen, I also find that the rhythms of getting the food prepped, cooked, and served can wear you down to the point where you're all "cooked out." Even though I'm doing much better than I was last May, going too fast and back into the mode I was in will only lead me to more exhaustion and stress. Going slowly may be my motto for a while. And the beauty is that it can be as long as you want it to be, especially if it helps your recovery. But here's something else I've found helpful after reaching the breaking point, when there's nothing left to do. And that's going to a higher power. In case you didn't know already, I'm a Christian, and I've been taught to believe and trust in a God and Jesus Christ as my one and only Savior. And lately, I've been doing a TON of cursing and crying out to God after I've reached a few too many breaking points last year. But I've also been doing something else: Looking to Scripture. Unexpectedly, I came across the book of Psalms and Lamentations as the two main books that sum up how much I was spent, desperate, and broken. Especially the words that aligned with how much I felt after finding myself in a new low, which was more than I can stand. Some of the words perfectly aligned with how I felt, like Psalm 86: Incline your ear, O Lord, and answer me,

for I am poor and needy.

Preserve my life, for I am godly;

save your servant, who trusts in you—you are my God.

Be gracious to me, O Lord,

for to you do I cry all the day.

Gladden the soul of your servant,

for to you, O Lord, do I lift up my soul.

For you, O Lord, are good and forgiving,

abounding in steadfast love to all who call upon you.

Give ear, O Lord, to my prayer;

listen to my plea for grace.

In the day of my trouble I call upon you,

for you answer me.

There is none like you among the gods, O Lord,

nor are there any works like yours.

All the nations you have made shall come

and worship before you, O Lord,

and shall glorify your name.

10  For you are great and do wondrous things;

you alone are God.

11  Teach me your way, O Lord,

that I may walk in your truth;

unite my heart to fear your name.

12  I give thanks to you, O Lord my God, with my whole heart,

and I will glorify your name forever.

13  For great is your steadfast love toward me;

you have delivered my soul from the depths of Sheol.

14  O God, insolent men have risen up against me;

a band of ruthless men seeks my life,

and they do not set you before them.

15  But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious,

slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.

16  Turn to me and be gracious to me;

give your strength to your servant,

and save the son of your maidservant.

17  Show me a sign of your favor,

that those who hate me may see and be put to shame

because you, Lord, have helped me and comforted me. Or Lamentations chapter 3: I am the man who has seen affliction

under the rod of his wrath;

he has driven and brought me

into darkness without any light;

surely against me he turns his hand

again and again the whole day long.

He has made my flesh and my skin waste away;

he has broken my bones;

he has besieged and enveloped me

with bitterness and tribulation;

he has made me dwell in darkness

like the dead of long ago.

He has walled me about so that I cannot escape;

he has made my chains heavy;

though I call and cry for help,

he shuts out my prayer;

he has blocked my ways with blocks of stones;

he has made my paths crooked.

10  He is a bear lying in wait for me,

a lion in hiding;

11  he turned aside my steps and tore me to pieces;

he has made me desolate;

12  he bent his bow and set me

as a target for his arrow.

13  He drove into my kidneys

the arrows of his quiver;

14  I have become the laughingstock of all peoples,

the object of their taunts all day long.

15  He has filled me with bitterness;

he has sated me with wormwood.

16  He has made my teeth grind on gravel,

and made me cower in ashes;

17  my soul is bereft of peace;

I have forgotten what happiness is;

18  so I say, “My endurance has perished;

so has my hope from the Lord.” Or even Psalm 88: O Lord, God of my salvation,

I cry out day and night before you.

Let my prayer come before you;

incline your ear to my cry!

For my soul is full of troubles,

and my life draws near to Sheol.

I am counted among those who go down to the pit;

I am a man who has no strength,

like one set loose among the dead,

like the slain that lie in the grave,

like those whom you remember no more,

for they are cut off from your hand.

You have put me in the depths of the pit,

in the regions dark and deep.

Your wrath lies heavy upon me,

and you overwhelm me with all your waves.

You have caused my companions to shun me;

you have made me a horror to them.

I am shut in so that I cannot escape;

my eye grows dim through sorrow.

Every day I call upon you, O Lord;

I spread out my hands to you.

10  Do you work wonders for the dead?

Do the departed rise up to praise you?

11  Is your steadfast love declared in the grave,

or your faithfulness in Abaddon?

12  Are your wonders known in the darkness,

or your righteousness in the land of forgetfulness?

13  But I, O Lord, cry to you;

in the morning my prayer comes before you.

14  O Lord, why do you cast my soul away?

Why do you hide your face from me?

15  Afflicted and close to death from my youth up,

I suffer your terrors; I am helpless.

16  Your wrath has swept over me;

your dreadful assaults destroy me.

17  They surround me like a flood all day long;

they close in on me together.

18  You have caused my beloved and my friend to shun me;

my companions have become darkness. When you're at your lowest point, it's as if the saddest words ring the most true for your circumstances.

And you just want to hang onto those words because they ring so true for you. I hung onto these sad words from Scripture for the rest of the year because I kept on thinking that if I kept on reading these same passages over and over again, something might change and I won't feel so sad anymore. You know what? That wasn't the case. Things really didn't change overnight as I thought they would, which broke my heart. So I kept on clinging to these words, with some sort of small hope that things will change. When you're at the breaking point, it seems like you want things to turn around quickly so you can just stop hurting. You want to be in control your life so you can actually feel better and be your actual self again. And you're pleading for something, anything, to take the pain and resignation and sadness and resentment away so you don't have to put on a brave front or smile in spite of the pain. I think that's the hardest part of being a Christian: You're not willing to accept or allow things to take its course, including reaching the breaking point. You don't want to give up control to a higher power because you don't want to keep hanging on for dear life on any given day when you're at your lowest point. Because it shows that you can't do it and you need help, and sometimes that help doesn't come right away or how you want (need) it to come. And that can bring about feelings of shame and a sense of being a failure. I think the phrase "let go, let God" is hardest to accept because you're not even sure if God can help you with getting out of this breaking point and the recovery afterwards. The pain is too much and you're not accustomed to dealing with so much pain, frustration, one step forward, two steps backward, and not knowing when it will all end. Or even if it will end. Here's a little secret about reaching the breaking point: You have to admit that there are some things in your life that aren't making you happy, reflect on them, and let things gradually out of your grasp, psyche, and heart for good. Like taking on more than you can handle. Like trying to live up to others' expectations and failing. Like getting back to back to back rejections without anything to help salve your wounds or even stopping to process what went wrong (or what went right). Like not properly grieving a loss and pushing on without stopping. Like being verbally abused or manipulated without standing up for yourself. Or any of those things. You don't want to stop because you don't want to face the pain because in other's eyes, it makes you look weak and incapable of doing what's asked of you. I've been through so many breaking points lately that I haven't had a chance to slow down and reflect on what's been going on and letting it out on paper or in prayer or to others in a way that doesn't involve crying or having a nervous breakdown. There's no better time than the present. So, I'm gonna let it out, without shame or fear of judgment. Okay... I'm not happy with being an Equity member. (There, I said it.) I thought the opportunities of getting in the audition room at the prominent theaters would lead to more jobs, but all of my hard work, persistence, and determination isn't enough. I'm not a big presence in the community despite my talent and past credits, and I'm either too much money for them to take me on with a new contract or not worth enough to even be considered since I'm not a "name". And I'm not getting the help or wisdom that I need from my fellow union members, and I feel like there are times when I don't belong in the community or even if I'm a right fit for the union. I've been feeling so much resentment, jealousy, bitterness, jadedness, and fear over other's successes, and I have nothing to offer. It's been hard keeping a strong front and I'm struggling to find ways to be positive and supportive of others, especially when I'm not working. It would make me seen as a bad person for feeling this way or "too difficult" or "desperate". I feel like I'm letting a lot of people down by being in the union and not getting a lot of jobs, and I can't do anything about it when the industry is sticking with who and what they know and no one wants to listen to me in my vulnerability or pain. I know there are people who are concerned about me and worried about me not doing what I love, but even I'm not sure if God can help me out of this one. No matter how many times I cry out to Him and hang on for dear life to Scripture, I feel like He is distant and not with me. I don't know what else to do, and I feel like giving up every single day just to spare others my pain and sadness. I'm tired of hanging on for dear life on this roller coaster, and I just want it to stop. Whew! That was a lot to process and regurgitate. Now that that's out of the way... Maybe it's time to reflect. Perhaps one of the biggest things I'm struggling with is patience and letting go and seeing my worth. Especially when I'm craving for roles and opportunities to come on my timeline. And perhaps forcing things to happen isn't working and I need to stop. Perhaps it's not me that's the problem, but outside situations and complications that are preventing me from getting roles. Things that are out of my control. Perhaps I may need to step away from the union for a while and build up my credits for the next year and learn more about the world. And perhaps I need to allow things to fall into place away from the union. Perhaps I may have to lean on my community more and accept that I'm not okay, and no one will hopefully push me away or deem me "too difficult" or "desperate." Perhaps I need to acknowledge that I'm being hard on myself and not finding joy both within and outside my career. Perhaps I need to give things to a higher power and just go with the flow and trust that all will be well. Perhaps consistent prayer and holding onto Scripture is the way to help my mind, heart, and soul trust and believe that all will be well and everything will fall into place on its own without pushing things. Perhaps I need to see and acknowledge how far I've come and look ahead with hope. Perhaps I shouldn't base my expectations on others and not take their distance and busyness in their careers personally. Perhaps I need to accept that my journey is my own and only I can decide what's best for me. Perhaps I need to find the good in every situation, even if I have to be reminded to do so. Perhaps I need to slow down. Maybe that's the key of recovering from a rough breaking point: Slow down and reflect. Treating yourself to your favorite ice cream also works, too. (wink) Just a thought. (This post is pretty heavy, and I know all of you out there have experienced a breaking point in some point in your lives. If for any reason you need medical attention after reaching your breaking point, get yourself to a hospital or a medical professional right away. You do matter, and your health is important. But also remember that these are my observations and thoughts. You are welcome to disagree with me on anything I say in this post or my previous writings. But what I will not tolerate is disrespectful language, hate speech, or anything offensive. We need to be kind to one another, but if you can't do a simple thing as that, I will block you.)

For any of you reading this and have gone through a breaking point, I'm so sorry you're hurting and struggling to keep it all together. I'm right there with you. I've had at least a dozen breaking points in the past year, and I'm still struggling to keep it all together. I know it seems like society is forcing us to keep things together to keep the world turning, and businesses need us to keep it all together in order to survive and thrive. Especially if there's a little bit of FOMO involved. But it bears repeating: YOU matter, and your HEALTH matters. It's okay if you need to step away from things or take it extra slow for a while. If the people or businesses can't understand that your mental and emotional health matters just as much as your physical health, that's on them. Not you. And maybe it's time to find the right people and organizations that do care about your health over making money. But also remember to use this time to reflect and process the breaking point. Maybe use this time to slowly figure out what habits and thoughts need to go away, and slowly make a plan on how to change things. In layman's terms... Slow down. You don't have to bounce back right way. In fact, you shouldn't. You might risk a negative setback in your recovery from the breaking point. Take all of the time you need. Treat yourself. Do something nice for yourself. Go outside and breathe the fresh air and see nature. And take care of YOU.

Yours truly has been doing a lot of taking care of herself since the surgery last month. And also a lot of reflection. I've come to the conclusion that I may have to make some big changes in my career in order to feel good about myself and trust in the journey. And that includes not comparing myself to others or basing my expectations for my career on other's successes, but also giving myself grace when I do and know that I'm not perfect. And that includes consistent prayer and reading Scripture to know, believe, and trust in God's timing for everything under the sun, including my career. And that may include stepping way from the union for a while to have the opportunities to act and be onstage again, since that's what brings me the most joy. And not feeling like a failure for having to step away. And that also includes LOTS of self-care and treating myself. Slowly is the best way to go... It may lead to some surprising revelations about yourself, and the opportunities that come with it. And you may get the healing that you so need and deserve to not reach the breaking point again. But if you do, just remember to breathe, step away, and slow down. Remember The Tortoise and the Hare? "Slow and steady wins the race." Think about it this week... And remember to take care of yourselves. I'll be sending out all of the positive vibes and prayers I can muster out your way, and just remember I'll be in your corner rooting for you all the way. 25 The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him,

to the one who seeks him;

26 it is good to wait quietly

for the salvation of the Lord.

27 It is good for a man to bear the yoke

while he is young.

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