Have you ever experienced a sudden emotional collapse, where you felt as if your sadness and/or anxiety were taking over your entire being? Maybe you could not even move, and had negative thoughts that overwhelmed you. Once you regained your faculties, you felt exhausted, and your thoughts were sluggish. You might have also experienced physical pain, and your blood pressure was suddenly higher than normal.
To date, I have had five nervous breakdowns in my life, three of which were very serious, and I can tell you from experience, they are NOT pleasant! They are life changing, and I believe cause changes in how the brain works. After all, trauma can cause physical changes in the brain, which is why people have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. I am unsure if this happens with nervous breakdowns though, as I have been unable to find information on this topic other than one lone article on the internet years ago, where the man who wrote it claimed to have serious brain damage resulting from an especially nasty nervous breakdown several years prior. (I have not been able to find that article again, unfortunately!)
Nervous breakdowns have various causes, but the symptoms are often the same, such as what was mentioned in the first paragraph. Some causes may include:
- Losing a job.
- Death of someone you love.
- Being abused physically, emotionally/psychologically or sexually.
- No signs of the stress in your life lightening up.
Many people who experience these things, especially more than one at a time, have a nervous breakdown, and that is nothing to be ashamed of. Many great people in history have experienced nervous breakdowns, such as Abraham Lincoln, Sir Isaac Newton, and even Albert Einstein. It is even said that the lovely actress, Vivian Leigh, experienced a nervous breakdown after having a miscarriage.
If you, too, have experienced a nervous breakdown, it might be a very good idea to see a doctor or counselor. I have not had the experience of proper medical or psychiatric care after my breakdowns, and while recovery without professional help is possible (obviously – or else I would not be writing this!), it is difficult. Professional help can make the recovery process easier. If you are unable or unwilling to seek out professional help, I will provide some tips that have helped me recover. Hopefully they will help you too!
Pray. Ask God for His help getting you through this trying time. And, ask Him to show you the purpose in it all. He lets nothing go to waste – there is some good that can come out of your pain! Let Him show you what it is.
Be patient and understanding with yourself. A nervous breakdown is a serious thing – you will not recover from it in a couple of hours! It takes time, so do not rush your recovery!
Be gentle with yourself. If something threatens to overwhelm you, avoid it for now. If it is something simple like a trip to the grocery store, ask a friend to bring you what you need.
Nervous breakdowns can temporarily distort your thinking and reactions. Do not drive or operate machinery until you feel more like yourself.
Nurture yourself. Relax, watch funny movies, do a craft you like, take bubble baths. Do pampering things that make you feel good.
Let it out! This happened because you are overwhelmed. You need to get your feelings out, so do just that. Cry, journal, vent to God.. do what you have to in order to get your feelings out of you.
Avoid people who will trivialize what has happened to you. Unfortunately, there is such a terrible negative stigma with any type of mental illness. Nervous breakdowns are no exception. People hear the term, “nervous breakdown” and seem to think it just is a fancy way to describe a crying jag. Not even close! Nervous breakdowns are much more serious! While you are recovering, you do not need to hear unsupportive comments like, “Get over it,” or, “You just need to pull yourself up by your bootstraps.” You need support and understanding only!
To avoid another nervous breakdown in the future, the best advice I can give is to learn to manage stress in healthy ways, take time to relax and enjoy your life, appreciate the little things, avoid being too busy, and most of all, stay close to God. He gives strength to those who need it – all you have to do is ask. He loves you so much, and is very willing to help.
Also, it is important to remember that nervous breakdowns have their purpose. Admittedly it may not feel like it at the time, but it is true. They force you to face something you did not want to face, yet needed to. They also seem to reboot your brain. I noticed after my breakdowns, especially the more severe ones, that I felt different. More peaceful, more able to let things go or not let things bother me. It reminds me of a computer that is not working right – you push the power button to shut it off, then when it restarts, the computer works better. Nervous breakdowns are not easy, but sometimes, they can be a blessing in disguise.