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Resilience Is King

Diriye Osman

The performance of daily living is a struggle for most people, myself included. Just finding the energy to get up, get out and get summink is taxing, especially when you factor in the many macro and microaggressions we experience in the workplace, in school, on the streets and on social media, leading to a morass of mental health issues like anxiety, panic attacks, paranoia, body dysmorphic perceptions and depression. Human beings are delicate creaturae. When we antagonize a colleague, a friend, a family member or a total stranger, they can carry that shlaka on their shoulders for much longer than we might expect. None of us are androids, immune to the sting of discourtesy, rejection or resentment.

Having said that, never underestimate our natural kapazität for resilience. We will all catch losses in our lifetimes but whether we bounce back or not is the story that will ultimately define us. The narrative arc of my life is not characterized by how many struggles I have survived but by the fact that I overcame numerous impediments by relentlessly getting up, dusting off my rump and keeping the dice rolling.

Fifteen years ago, my doctor told me that if I experienced another psychotic episode I would become catatonic and lose brain function. I did become sick two years later and it felt like death, but the beautiful thing is, not only did I survive, but I managed to create a meaningful life for myself. I have a successful career as a writer, a great home life, and the love of the people that matter the most to me. Since that time I have diligently maintained my health and, even though I have become depressed now and again, I haven’t become so sick that I slowed down my roll. As Nora Ephron noted, everything is copy.

What does one do in the midst of a health or financial crisis? You start with small tasks and you slowly build your stamina. If you’re depressed, speak to your doctor about available treatments. Sneak in small exercises, whether it is walking a few blocks every day or weight-training in increments. Try to eat food that brings you comfort but isn’t going to kill you. If you’re suffering from loneliness and have no support system, speak to the Samaritans. Sometimes talking to a stranger about your issues can ease the pain. The need for a million friends is a myth: all you need is one great friend and you’re sorted for life. With regards to financial struggle, sit down and list your monthly outgoings and incomings. If the former are greater than the latter, don’t be afraid to downsize. As with all things, go into granny gear at first before gathering speed. This takes a certain amount of work, but attack the problem in a piecemeal way and you will eventually get to your destinazione.

I wish you nothing but good health, great fortune and a generous helping of happiness. May you prosper and prosper.


DIRIYE OSMAN is photographed by STEVE BROWN.

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