Personally, I have a bit of a routine when it comes to breakdowns. By “a bit” I mean it’s erratic: it changes; it’s sometimes more healthy than other times but there are a few things I seem to do pretty much every time. After feeling absolutely atrocious because of emotions a few days ago and comparing it to a huge breakdown I had in Barcelona, I realised that there were certain ways I dealt with it: I looked back on past “breakdowns” and decided to compile a list of ways I cope. This isn’t a “5 ways to deal” because it’s different for everyone but this is just how, sometimes, I deal with my emotions going haywire. I hope this can help anyone who needs it, like I needed it.
I class breakdowns as any time where I lose complete control of my emotions. I won’t go into what causes them – that’s for another post – but in a way, dealing with them has informed me what causes them. As my mental health has got worse, I’ve had to internalise a lot of things I used to be able to express more and so I hope that writing about this will encourage me to speak up.
This might seem like an obvious one but there have been times where I’ve felt so terrible but not let myself cry about it. Perhaps it’s cliché to say this but tears can really be a release for pent up emotion. When I let myself cry, although it panics me, it gives me a way to get something out. That’s far better than shoving it all back so that it appears later, worse. I don’t force the tears if I know they won’t fall but I try my best to let them out when I know I need to. If no people are there, I don’t quite know how to deal with them which often forces me to try and ignore them but if people bring my tears out by talking to me, or something happens which means I can’t not cry, I feel a little calmer afterwards. When I cry a lot, it does make me exhausted but it doesn’t end with me feeling angry and like I’m running to nowhere.
Part of a breakdown for me is feeling really disconnected with everything. Because of that, when I feel like I’m about to start sobbing or I’m in the midst of it, I often touch objects around me, put my hands behind my back or talk to myself about what’s happening. That last one makes me deal with it and, weirdly, makes it a bit more bearable because I’m proving to myself I’m still here, still able to express myself and still myself. If I’m around someone, I’ll either hold their hands usually or be close to them: when I was in Barcelona, my friend told me to punch a pillow really hard and also held me; the next day, I stood by the wall and pushed against it with my hands to remember where I was because I was alone and couldn’t deal with going to find anyone. In these situations, I do everything I can to remind myself that what I feel is real.
Lying/sitting on the floor
Okay, I know that might seem weird, but I’ve noticed I do this a lot especially when I don’t know how to deal with anything or when my emotions get really bad. Sometimes I can’t really help it if I walk into a room and don’t have the energy to sit on a chair but a lot of the time, it’s purposeful. Previously, I hated myself for it because I thought I was attention-seeking: in Barcelona again, things were getting too much and I went on the floor, someone said “It looked like you did that on purpose,” and I didn’t know how to tell them they were correct without looking attention-seeking. However, I’ve come to realise there’s a bit of a reason: excuse the pun but it’s another thing that grounds me. Shortly before the person had said that, I’d gone to the room I was staying in, sat on my bed and slid onto the floor to try and make myself as small as possible. I did that recently as well and just sat there, with nothing else around me to distract me and just breathed. Depending on the situation, I sit/lie on the floor for different reasons but it always seems to help in some way, without making me feel pathetic.
Talking to someone about it
A huge thing for me is that I need to talk about things or they get locked inside my head. My friend Rapunzel saw the worst breakdown I’ve ever had in front of someone and encouraged me to spend a while just breathing and then to talk about it – and, although I was so upset that I couldn’t form many words, I gave it my best try. Not only does it act as a release but it also gives me closure. Whenever I do talk about it, the next day, I don’t feel so panicked about whatever I broke down about and I can start to deal with it. Dealing with it by myself makes me feel sick because often, there are too many thoughts in my head. Talking to a friend or anyone about those thoughts makes me feel guilty for shoving all my problems onto them but if they’re willing to listen to my ramblings, I’d talk until I couldn’t any more.
Last night, I felt as if I was about to start shaking and that I wouldn’t be able to stop. After calming down and reading for a little, I decided to just relax and not to stress out. I had a shower, put a face mask on, moisturised and started writing. As it always seems to do, it made me feel as if I had a little bit of control over myself and made me as happy as I could be at that moment. At some point, I’ll deal with what was making me unhappy – namely, shitty, unresolved feelings and fear that everybody hates me – but this was a good starting point.
I really hope this helped, even if in a little way. I’m not the best at coping but I’m getting there. Every single emotion I have is a learning experience and with them, I learn more about myself. I’m not perfect but I’m not hopeless, either.
How do you deal with breaking down? Are there any things you’d like to do to help yourself that you don’t do currently?
From Elm 🙂