How many nervous breakdowns end in suicide?
How many of us humans have been (and will be) diagnosed, labeled, committed, hospitalized, drugged, tranquilized, “treated” and altogether subdued and oppressed?
How many of us are called mentally ill, unstable, crazy, insane, weird or worse?
The critical voices of our parents, teachers and society turn into our own inner critics who rail against us inside our heads. We are made to believe that we’re unworthy, incomplete, sinful, shameful, damaged, sick, ill, demented, manic-depressive, bipolar, ADHD or schizo, or whatever.
For highly sensitive people who are prone to extreme, intense emotions and risky imbalances in our mind/body, this can affect every aspect of our lives: sleep, appetite, relationships, health and overall energy.
Everyone is different, and we are all the same.
I went through annual periods of stark depression in my early 20s. I would obsess about ways to kill myself. I did not really want to die, I just didn’t know how to go on living. Almost like clockwork, my beautiful, hotter-than-hell central Texas summers were filled with despair and anxiety.
I went a little crazy, I will admit.
I did not need to be forcefully handcuffed and hospitalized. I did not need to be committed for 10 days against my will. I did not need to be strapped down and tranquilized. Except that I did because that is what our society does to crazy people.
This happened 10 years ago, today. It was yesterday, and it will be tomorrow.
I had, up to that point, gotten to know depression really well but never mania, never floating above the earth, levitating, losing touch with reality, flying like I did when I got manic. That day, I was labeled bipolar. That day, I officially joined the tribe of maniacs.
If I am a lunatic, we all are. And we all are, aren’t we?
Thanks to expanding my consciousness (which is thanks to my practice) which has seeped into my daily lifestyle so deliciously, I have flourished despite my diagnosis.
A month after I flew over the cuckoo’s nest, I turned 25. A year later, I had bought a house and launched my new career as an elementary teacher. Now, 10 years later, I am selling that house and deepening my transplanted roots here in Guatemala with my soul mates—my little family. I’m figuring out what I am. All over again.
I am celebrating a crazy decade and a crazy life. At the same time, I wouldn’t wish a total nervous breakdown upon my worst enemy—especially not with being placed in a state-run psychiatric hospital. So here are a few ways I have managed to prevent any further detrimental breakdowns over the past decade. May they be of benefit!
How to Prevent a Nervous Breakdown
1. Meditate, which is really just watching the mind.
Learn to ride the waves of feeling hypomanic, inspired, awake, creative, productive and “on.” Learn to float on, even in the face depression, rage, despair, anxiety and fear. Live life and enjoy it, don’t hide from or hate your present moment.
We can best handle our difficult emotions by being able to observe them non-judgmentally and express them in a healthy way. We will still tumble down foxholes of negativity within the mind, it’s just a question of how often and for how long.
2. Don’t be a drama queen.
Create less conflict with others by realizing we’re all the same and our differences come from our cultural conditioning and experiences. When dramas and difficulties do arise, think about how you will look back on the situation in a year. Will it be that important? Most likely not. Will you have grown from it? If you let yourself, yes!
3. Keep breathing.
When you’re at your deepest, darkest, lowest, feeling utterly isolated and desperate, remember this one thing: What everyone around you is calling a breakdown is—(and you already know this in your heart)—actually a giant breakthrough.
This too shall pass. Keep breathing. You are strong and powerful. You will prevail.
Author: Meichelle Margaret Fajkus
Editor: Catherine Monkman
Photo: Sprout Creative/Flickr