Change. It may feel like depression but it’s not.

When sh*t happens our default is to try and manage it. We have to be in control. Don’t we?

No, we don’t. It’s impossible to control everything that happens to us.

It’s not always possible to control our days, far less the trajectory of our lives. So when the proverbial sh*t hits the fan, it’s essential that we take a deep breath and remind ourselves that it’s not business as usual.

Loss and change happen when life is happening. It blindsides us on some ordinary afternoon. Overcoming sudden loss or change isn’t about being prepared, it’s about knowing, loving, and trusting yourself to weather the storm. What we can’t see in the midst of turmoil is the opportunity for change, a change that takes us to the next level. It’s in this stage of deep shock that the opportunity to find our authentic selves is presented. If we are able to relinquish control and be still, the chances are that we will be able to find ourselves–that part of ourselves that we seem to have lost along life’s highway.

This phase starts with reflection–taking time to step away from the noise and to notice what’s going on around and inside of you. Reflection prompts you to question how you got here. Was it something you could control at all? Could you have done anything about it? What, if anything, could you have done differently? If you are honest in your questioning, in time, you will find yourself tapping into what it is you can do about it.

Reflection is not harsh and judgemental. It’s a gentle, curious and honest “look” at the problem or situation and the opportunity to decide whether or not it was in your control, whether or not you could do something about it, and most importantly, whether or not you want to do something about it. This is where change takes place, whatever you do or don’t do.

Change is an invitation to make small, deliberate, and consistent changes, even when external factors seem to get in the way. Real-life isn’t represented by a flat line; it’s not a ‘walk in the park.’ It’s tough! Filled with ups and downs, like everyone else’s! But it’s your life, and if you find yourself stuck, you need to get out of the slump and recalibrate your life. I like the word ‘recalibrate‘ because that’s really what navigating change requires. When you drive a car it calibrates to the stops and starts, the curves in the road, the potholes, the weight it’s carrying, and so much more. Essentially, it’s adapting to external forces but still moving forward.

But it’s hard to even think of moving forward when you can barely manage swinging your legs over the side of the bed in the mornings. Unfortunately, there just isn’t another way around it–‘it’ being life, ‘it’ being the change.

The only proven way of finding your new normal is by subscribing to the old adage of eating the elephant one bite at a time. However, the secret is to take time to notice whether or not it’s the same elephant that returns time after time.

Reflection enables you to keep going back to unresolved issues with gentle kindness, until one day, something gives. The lights go on. The band begins to play. Your AHA moment happens. It’s a glorious moment. Sometimes it’s painful, but it is always glorious, and you will know you’re there when a refreshing sense of lightness and freedom courses through your body.

This is Fisher’s Transition Curve. It’s a blueprint that maps your journey through change, highlighting the landmarks along the way. It applies to almost any stage or phase of your life, including all the life-changing stuff–dealing with loss, changing partners, homes, jobs, attitudes, even countries. Whatever the situation, at some point, you will find yourself at the bottom of the curve. If you’re anything like me, you’ll think you’ve reached the bottom when a whole new low reveals itself. 

There is only one way out of the bottom of this curve, and that is by spending some time there, because that is where you will encounter the deep stillness required for reflection. It’s the place where you’ll hear your kind inner voice that speaks with empathy, instead of the harsh critic, and where you will have the space to really listen to it and reflect on what it has to tell you. The bottom of this curve could also mean listening to those who love and care about you.

Finding yourself at the bottom of the curve is a bit like finding yourself in a black hole. It’s no fun being down there; Fisher does not call it ‘depression’ for nothing.

The good news is that it’s not the clinical disease depression, rather it’s an overwhelming hopelessness and fear. On Fisher’s Transition Curve, depression is a temporary state of being. It’s where you go to create awareness and remind yourself that you have consciously and deliberately opted for change. You have decided to walk away from, people, behaviours, habits, addictions, or beliefs that no longer serve you. It is whatever has been holding you back from being your authentic, happy, beautiful self.

Being at the bottom of the curve takes Courage because it is here where you mourn the loss of the past, the happy moments, the not-so-happy times, the things, people, and behaviours that you thought you could never live without. Losing these things may well force you to look elsewhere for comfort, towards something that you’re in control of. The only person we can ultimately rely on for change is ourselves. In this slump we come to know that we are our own best friend, the only person we can count on to control how everything is going to be resolved.

During my personal transformation I said to my coach “I am sick and tired of being at the bottom of this black hole”. It was not only a dark place, but the work I was doing down there was hard. She never encouraged me to get out, because she, too, had been there. (We all have been there, and we will be there again). Her awareness told her to stay in the discomfort and dive deeper into it if necessary. You will know when it is time to begin the cautious climb out of the bottom of the curve.

Here are some of the things you may come to know while at the bottom of the curve.

  • Any disruption in life, whether it’s work or relationships, can slow you down, sometimes even knock you down completely.
  • Change is not always brought on by a single event, but by several blows that chip away at your resilience.
  • Sooner or later  you will realise that the disruption(s) need not define you.
  • No problem or obstacle is fully pervasive.
  • You’ll be forced to do a comprehensive life audit instead of focusing on what’s been so crushing, i.e. do you still have your health, your job, family, loved ones, financial status, skills?
  • You’ll tap into what is working and stop focussing on what’s not working.
  • You can take your time.
  • Change won’t be overwhelming and rapid. You will tweak, adjust, and recalibrate, making one small, meaningful change at a time.

In conclusion – know that this depression is not a life sentence, it’s a phase in your life. Until you step out of it, surrender to the natural flow of healing, change, and transition. You will know when it’s time to step up and out. Take your time. If you need support, find someone to listen, someone who is not going to give advice or drag you out of the darkness until you’re ready to face the light that’s inside you. Research. Google is your friend. There is so much information and assistance out there to support and help you. You just need to take the first step, and a life coach is trained to guide you through this overwhelming phase of change.