No Time for a Nervous Breakdown

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Yesterday I saw a post making fun of a nervous breakdown.  I laughed, only because I have earned the right to laugh.  Nervous breakdown is not a medical term used much these days, but thirty some years ago it was, and I did have one.  What’s a nervous breakdown?  Mayo Clinic states:

The term “nervous breakdown” is sometimes used to describe a stressful situation in which someone becomes temporarily unable to function normally in day-to-day life. It’s commonly understood to occur when life’s demands become physically and emotionally overwhelming. The term was frequently used in the past to cover a variety of mental disorders, but it’s used less often today.

Nervous breakdown isn’t a medical term, however, nor does it indicate a specific mental illness. But that doesn’t mean it’s a normal or a healthy response to stress. A nervous breakdown may indicate an underlying mental health problem that needs attention, such as depression or anxiety.

Signs of a nervous breakdown vary from person to person and depend on the underlying cause. Exactly what constitutes a nervous breakdown also varies from one culture to another. Generally, it’s understood to mean that a person is no longer able to function normally. For example, he or she may:

  • Call in sick to work for days or longer
  • Avoid social engagements and miss appointments
  • Have trouble following healthy patterns of eating, sleeping and hygiene

A number of other unusual or dysfunctional behaviors may be considered signs and symptoms of a nervous breakdown.

In my case it was the stress of a demanding job, house, an unfaithful husband and three young girls who were old enough to understand the horrible marriage that existed in the home.  One day, it was all more than I could endure.  I finally started crying over the mess my life and my girl’s life had become.  I pulled myself together enough that morning to get myself to work, but I cried all the way there.  After an hour of crying in my office, I finally went to my doctor.  Two hours later I was uncontrollably sobbing.  This was just not me.  I had been fighting the depression and anxiety of a failing marriage and the others stresses of live for too long and it all came to this final breakdown.   I felt like I had finally gone mad.

My doctor told me I wasn’t crazy.  That I had just held things together for so long that something had to break.  When he finally got my then husband to show up at the office to explain I was being admitted to the hospital, it was not a good scene.  In fact, after Mr. Ex left the office, they doctor looked at me and said, get rid of that jerk and you will be fine.

An hour later I was in the hospital shortly after that with a boat load of drugs on board but still crying.  Finally I crashed and burned, not waking until the next morning.   After some long talks with the doctors, I was allowed to go home two days later.  I swore that I would never, ever allow myself to fall into that black hole of life again and I took the doctor’s advice several months later.

Even though nervous breakdowns are not something to laugh and joke about, I do.  A way of me dealing with it all, I suppose.  However, falling that far down only made the climb back up that much sweeter.  Understanding the symptoms of depression and anxiety has allowed me to seek help and find the right drugs to keep my brain chemicals in balance.  With my chemicals in balance the controlling the things in life that use to throw me for a tail spin, no longer hover over me.

I understand it’s alright to feel depressed or anxious, as we are humans and we all do from time to time.  What I understand about myself, is to not let things in my life control my depression or anxiety.  I took control of my life and that pretty much allowed me to take control of my feelings when things weren’t going so well.

When someone says to me, “I’m going to have a nervous breakdown, I have earned it,” I always reply, “been there, done that.  It’s not all that much fun.”  Mostly people look at me strangely, like I’m pulling their leg, but I’m not.  Although I do have the papers that say I’m not crazy, don’t let that fool you.  Depression and anxiety can make you feel like you are crazy.

Don’t wait until you are in a doctor’s office, unable to stop crying before you seek help.  There is no shame in getting help!

Now,  I just enjoy acting silly crazy, having fun.   Life is too short for wasting time on depression and anxiety.

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