How to deal with a major setback

Sometimes life becomes less linear, things don't go to plan, and you do feel like everything is very overwhelming and want to run away from your issues. It happens but it isn't the end of the world - you can resolve anything as long as you stay in control and address the puzzles you are facing. Major setbacks might require time, attention, planning and most importantly effort, they happen to all of us at some point but it's important to look past them and move on.

Throughout this year I have experienced several unpleasant experiences, and despite some of my closest people being by my side have found myself breaking down, being in tears for 12 hours non-stop, suffering from bad insomnia and extreme fatigue during some of my exams.

The most important thing to remember is that you are not alone when it comes to situations like that, chances are there is at least one more person facing something just as difficult and you can push past it. Following my experiences this year I wanted to share some advice on how I have been able to deal with some of the most horrifying and detrimental experiences in my life, which I have not been able to share with many people either, leaving my educational institution completely blind to this despite it having affected me in a lot of ways.

When you first look at an absolutely shocking situation which you have no idea how to resolve you tend to worry, get anxious and just get upset because it might seem like there is nothing you can do about it at that given moment. Truth is, it is okay to cry and be upset about something which is clearly hindering your progress and your dreams but being upset all the time and shedding tears all the time won't take you anywhere and will result in you having a big headache - just don't torture yourself even more.

Be upset, cry, write your feelings down, see a friend you trust and talk to them about your situation. It is very important to let all of the emotions out at the start of the recovery process because a lot of the major setbacks people find themselves generate a lot of feelings you might have never experienced before, as well a lot of thoughts, which if bottled up will make you explode and take you somewhere dark. That won't help you progress and make everything better at least a little bit. If you are feeling overwhelmed don't start hitting your head against the wall, instead use some of the less harmful coping mechanisms - rip some paper up ( this works incredibly well), do some jumps at your local park, maybe even dance to some crazy music without caring about anything and anyone - let it all out.

Now the emotional side aside, you need to gather your thoughts together. The mistake I have made many times was to overburden my friends with my thoughts and sad feelings for several days whilst not making the slightest attempt to change anything. Great as friends are some situations are incredibly unique and it might be difficult to find someone who can genuinely relate and give you an action plan. Having had the chance to speak to someone about how you feel it is key that you sit down and think for yourself and by yourself about what went wrong and how things can be changed to make the situation better. At first you will probably have no idea as to how you should work on something going wrong, which is completely normal but do not let that defeat you - there is nothing you can't do if you believe in yourself. Despite constantly repeating "self belief" that is probably the hardest part but I will soon provide ways via which you can reassure yourself and help yourself move on from the horrors you might be experiencing.

It is important that you separate yourself from your emotions and build a logical development of the situation which went wrong because that will allow you to have plenty of room for improvement and will leave the situation broken down enough for you not to feel overwhelmed. After you have identified what went wrong, take each point you have identified and think of ways you can work on it, some will come sooner than others but generate ideas using your own mind because this is your situation and its nuance is personal to you.

Going back to self belief, as mentioned before this is the most challenging part at the initial stages of the process but it's not impossible to do, even if you are completely losing hope in yourself and the world. Here are some ways in which you can ensure you retain your sense of self belief, no matter what:

- Positive affirmations are the way forward. If you are like me and get deeply upset by harsh words and what is said to you by the people around, teachers and so on make a list of the great things about yourself and what you are capable of doing. The art of persuasion is key here, so just close your eyes and think of the better things about yourself as a person, which also define you to combat all the negativity.

- When feeling down, or in a very difficult situation some people tend to demean a lot of their achievements but we all have done something fantastic. Regardless of whether it includes the time when you have worked for a charity, wrote an amazing essay or simply got through school despite having been in an incredibly disruptive classroom and having lived in bad area, you did it. Keep a list of your achievements - no matter how big or small, they will cheer you up when you feel down and will keep you going when you feel like you can't.

- Having a reason behind anything you are doing/planning on doing also helps with maintaining self belief. Whether you are retaking exams in order to go to a better university or simply want to take action to prove being honest to yourself and your beliefs make sure it is something you can justify to yourself. There will be points when you will be questioned about your choices, people will try to prove you wrong and you will doubt yourself, but if you know why you are doing everything you are doing you will be able to respond and come back feeling even more reassured and strong. If it feels like a lot of information to keep in your mind, journal it or just make a brief note of it but never forget it.

Following the probably extensive thinking process on your own, it might be worth speaking to people who have been in similar situations or just very close friends who have experienced something similar in their lives because it might help you tweak your own ideas and push forward. The benefit of this step is two-fold: you gather information and therefore improve on your initial ideas with additional information but also come across as someone who can move on and constructively move on. You will draw more people in, received more support and work towards the outcome you want to achieve with a much larger support network, which will make it easier. At this stage it is important to gather information as it will help you construct a plan and move forward.

Before making any substantial changes to the current situation it is important to have a plan, be it written or mental. It is important to dedicate some time to filtering the information you have acquired so far and see what is relevant and applicable to you. Truth is, you won't need all of it and maybe not even half of it at this stage. Go back to the breakdown of issues you are facing and apply the additional information to your challenges, adapt it to suit you and have a detailed plan as to how you will work on improving everything you are currently facing. In the long term, it will work and you will see the progress despite some of the challenges you will face on your way there.

The last key element of this recovery process is that everything you have written and collected must be executed and implemented as you have planned to do it. It can be tempting to give up and expect for things to settle but unfortunately nothing happens on its own and you are the one to make it happen. On some days, especially at the start, you will struggle - we all do, but if you keep going it will get easier and easier until you won't even notice it being part of your life and routine. Don't make the mistake of leaving it aside and forgetting about it because if all of those unresolved setbacks collect you will collapse or explode and neither will make you happier or more energised. You have worked very hard to reach this point, don't let all of your effort go away and waste your own time and resources.

Not everyone has a perfect life, and a lot of people quietly suffer whilst smiling but they get through it. If you are facing something difficult in your life or have no idea how to progress it is important to remember that you are someone special and can do anything you put your mind into, no matter how difficult the situation might seem at the time. It is okay to be emotional and feel down but you can't let it consume you, otherwise you will reach complete darkness and collapse. You are a wonderful human being who can do anything and everything, you have a purpose and you can keep going - don't give up.