Advice For When Life Feels Like It’s Falling Apart

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Photo of sun and shadows in November. A green vine planted in a terracotta pot hangs on a wooden shelf. Sunlight makes a striking shadow that forms a rectangle, shadow plant, and various appealing angles. By Emily P.G. Erickson

Last month when I wrote to you, I mentioned unexpected health problems — the best, shortest way I knew to describe a scary month or two. So many things felt so profoundly, progressively wrong in my body that a lot of my coping focused on reminding myself that people are adaptable, that I could adapt — even to a huge reduction in ability or lifespan. I don’t mean to vague-post, but it was confusing and a lot, and I still don’t have all the words.

I had so many doctor’s appointments. I just opened three healthcare system apps to count them all (21). Two separate treks to Mayo Clinic. And now? While I have more appointments to come, I am happy to report that I’m already on the upswing.

In my case, the cause appears to be multi-factorial and manageable — not a combination I anticipated, honestly, and I’m grateful for it.

I expect to write more about it in time. For now, I want to leave a blaze for anyone else who stumbles on this trail, accompanied by a frightening body and a frantic brain.

In addition to the alarming outcomes you can rabbit hole yourself into believing at 3 am (Hi. It’s me.), it’s also possible that you’ll be all right. It is possible for life to feel like it is falling apart without it actually crumbling.

It’s true that bad things can and do happen. I know that, you know that. We don’t need reminding that the fates can be cruel. But sometimes (this is the part I forget when I’m afraid), the fates are not cruel. It’s ok — even reasonable — to hope that whatever you’re going through is one of those times.

This Thanksgiving, I’m grateful for luck. May we all have it in abundance.

New Writing From Me

PALA Faculty Spotlight: Adjunct Writing Instructor Estelle Erasmus

Ok, this isn’t “from me,” but it’s a lovely feature of my writing mentor Estelle Erasmus, who helped me break into The New York Times. In this profile, which was published by the NYU School of Professional Studies, she even gives me a shout out! I’m excited for her new book, Writing That Gets Noticed: Find Your Voice, Become a Better Storyteller, Get Published, coming in 2023.

Books I Think You’ll Like

For Thanksgiving I’m sharing three books inspired by things I’m grateful for this season.

Chatter: The Voice in Our Head, Why It Matters, and How to Harness It by Ethan Kross

I’m grateful for work that lets ask interesting people if I can talk to them and they say yes! For an upcoming story, I spoke to psychologist Ethan Kross, author of Chatter: The Voice in Our Head, Why It Matters, and How to Harness It. The book is well-executed, which I love as a writer, and stays true to the research, which I respect as a former mental health researcher.

The Dark Honey: New & Used Poems by Ellie Schoenfeld

I’m grateful to poetry for its compact magic. When my brain can only focus for a minute or two before bed, poetry gamely takes my brain on a little trip before it drops off to sleep. One of the booksellers at Drury Lane Books in Grand Marais suggested I buy The Dark Honey: New & Used Poems by Duluth poet Ellie Schoenfeld. I love the witty, gorgeous poems in it.

All in a Day
Cynthia Rylant (Author)  Nikki McClure (Illustrator)

I’m grateful for gorgeous children’s books that still feel fresh after three kids. All in a Day by Cynthia Rylant (author) and Nikki McClure (illustrator) is one I’m always happy to read and somehow still can’t get through without tearing up at its wise, beautiful words.

Emily P.G. Erickson's bookshop.
Check out my Bookshop for more excellent reads.

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Published by Emily P.G. Erickson

Emily P.G. Erickson is a freelance writer specializing in mental health and parenting. She has written for popular digital publications, including Everyday Health, Health, The New York Times, Parents, Romper, WIRED, and more. Emily is a professional member of the American Society of Journalists and Authors (ASJA) and the Association of Health Care Journalists (AHCJ). Previously, Emily researched PTSD for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and earned a master's in psychology. You can find the latest from Emily at

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