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‘This is too much, I can’t do this, I feel broken.’

Jody Vance: This New Year’s, make two resolutions: be completely honest with yourself about your mental and emotional state; and promise to ask for help if you need it.
It can feel like prison.

‘Tis the season to consider lessons learned in the last 365 days. Not sure about you, but for me and mine 2020 sees a whole new form of reflection.

More important than asking what can I change to be better, I find myself looking in the mirror and sincerely asking “how are you doing?”

That got me thinking how the holiday season can be tough at the best of times, and how it’s even more important to take stock in ourselves.

So: how you are coping?

If I’m honest, my answer is “just okay.” The great news for me is that I’m far better now than a few months back. September 2020 almost broke me, and taught me to drop the superhero act.

Having thankfully never suffered clinical depression when I hit TILT on this pinball game of pandemic stress, it was foreign…to say the least.

After a slammed summer of working the equivalent of two full time jobs, suddenly I found myself an overwhelmed, sobbing mess. I’d “held it together” for months and months and months.

Then, the levee broke.

Without warning, “this is too much, I can’t do this, I feel broken” came rolling from my lips. What struck me, immediately, was that as soon as I said it — I felt remarkably better.

My secret was out. My ugly cry happened, my soft underbelly exposed. The relief was palpable. I would have shared much sooner…if only I’d known.

Because I think a lot of people are banking on some magical change or quick fix as the calendar flips. It will take time to put the pains of the “longest year ever” in the rearview mirror and heal.

Don’t get me wrong: putting a pin in this year will no doubt be cathartic. Like you, I’m very ready to turn the page and have 2020 become less like an open wound, and more like a battle scar.

Looking for light at the end of the 2020 tunnel certainly starts on January 1. It’s an excellent symbolic flip and chance to take personal emotional stock, even when typically playing the role of the rock.

So now, answer the initial question: When was the last time you checked on YOU?

In years past, you might have been planning resolutions that involved a gym membership, CrossFit ranking, waistline, or drinking local wine.

Not this time.

This time it’s about feeling, sleeping, thinking, and managing our wellbeing.

Doing absolutely everything to keep some normalcy in the mayhem of a global pandemic is a stress so widely shared, it’s (wait for it) unprecedented. I’ve wracked my brain pondering times when the whole planet had the exact same storm to face.

Our 2020 year end Middle is an ask for moderation when it comes to judging yourself.

Toss any commitment to go keto, or a master cleanse, or cabbage soup diet. Instead try a simple self check that starts with “am I okay?” and if the answer is “not really,” talk it out with someone sooner rather than later.

You need to have a port in this COVID storm. Find relief from the stresses of a truly unbelievable year.

Don’t shy away from saying out loud this can be too much to manage. Talk it out with a friend on Zoom. Cry it out. My ugly cry made me feel so much better — it helped me to regroup and establish a new hope.

Talk through all of the stresses, debt, mortgage/rent, relationships, parenting, work dynamics: all of it. Get it out, get it all out.

I’ve literally lost count of friends who’ve got a solid Nadia Comănecii 10/10 with their verbal gymnastics, qualifying their struggles vs. good fortunes while sharing their struggles.

How many times have you heard a friend say: “I know…it could be much worse.” Nobody wants to be the complainer.

My personal biggest lesson of 2020 (other than not washing hands enough pre- COVID,) is that it’s okay to not be okay. You just need to tell someone.

You need to SAY OUT LOUD when life gets to be too much. Because we all have a breaking point.

Trying to be strong, stoic, to tamp down very real stresses. Breaking is not an option, right?

But it is. So give yourself another one.

Asking for support, can be a game changer. Be honest with at least yourself on this. I promise you that your sleep will improve, the 5 o’clock somewhere will slow down, the happy times won’t feel as fleeting.

It will get better. We will get through.

Jody Vance is a born and raised Vancouverite who’s spent 30 years in both local and national media. The first woman in the history of Canadian TV to host her own sports show in primetime, since 2011 she’s been working in both TV and radio covering news and current affairs.