Today is especially rough day… one of those days that I see an escape only in death and as the panic makes my heart hurt I am praying to God to make my heart stop beating and put me out of my misery… just to make it all go away. I have never feared death, I fear the pain, the agony and the suffering you experience while alive. And I know it is not all bad, but some days I just find it incredibly hard to see the good. And I have learned that I don’t need to even try to find the good in those days and the harder I try to fight it, the worse I feel.
One incredibly important part of recovering from a mental illness is letting yourself feel all the misery, feel all the sadness, all the pain …just let it all out and get it out of your system. Every now and then my nervous system gets too fed up with bad experiences and emotions and I just wake up one day, sometimes two, three, four days… whatever is necessary and I just can’t function, I get into this cycle of panic after panic, feeling hopeless and crying all the time. I hate those days, I just feel so awful, so drained, so tired both physically and mentally. But then after the storm I wake up one day and feel much better, I have found new strength and new energy to start the fight all over again. I perceive this as some sort of emotional detox. As we all know our bodies need to detox from time to time and in most cases we feel awful from the side effects. The same applies to our mind and nervous system – they put us into this nervous breakdown while clearing up all the bad stuff.
Everyone experiences nervous breakdowns at some point of their lives. Unfortunately, this happens much more often to people suffering from mental illness, because they have much more emotional build-up to clear than regular people. While ultimately it is a good thing for the sufferer, it can put a lot of pressure on our loved ones. They start to feel bad because they are not able to be of much help in such situations and they feel as if they are doing everything wrong.
So the next paragraph goes out to all the people who are close to someone suffering from anxiety, panic or depression and are a bit unsure on what to do in cases of panic attacks and/or nervous breakdowns (of course everyone is different and not all my points will apply to your loved ones but I hope to give you at least some starting points):
- I believe that all mental illness sufferers will agree that the most important thing to feel comfortable around somebody is to feel understood. Of course, for someone who has not experienced mental illnesses first-hand and is not a trained professional can be a bit hard to understand all the irrational thoughts, all the adrenaline and cortisol rushing through your body and what sometimes seems as giving up. But the first thing to understand is that your loved one is not giving up in front of their monster, they are fighting this monster every day and sometimes they just get a bit tired and all the hormones and thoughts fill up their bodies and they go into panic. That is completely normal, that does not mean that the hell broke loose (although it may seem like it) and that does not mean that they have given up entirely. They are just taking a break to flush their system. I know that you want the best for your beloved ones and that you are trying to make everything better but there is not much that you could do at this point. By trying to make everything better and pushing them to be optimistic and not to fall into self-despair, you might actually make things worse, because despite of all the good intentions, they will feel like they are not accepted and loved as they are and that they need to be stronger or better in order for you to love them. I know that you never had this intention, but this is the way it works with mental illness sufferers.
Having said that this sort of nervous breakdowns are completely normal, please bear in mind that it is normal for a few days, but if it is becoming months and more, the condition might have worsened into severe Depression or something else and further medical evaluation might be needed.
- The second point that I want to make is that on this type of days the motivational and positive talk and talking as a whole is actually making me feel worse (this is the way it works for me, I will be interested to know how it is for you fellow sufferers in the comments down below). There are certain moments when talking is extremely beneficial for me, but on this sort of events I need more to feel somewhat safe. That might be due to the fact that most of the time I get into these huge continuous panic attacks because my fears seem really strong and large and as if they will definitely come true and I don’t feel like anyone could tell me something that will make the fears go away. But I do feel that I need to feel safe, for example having someone by my side who is just hugging me or taking care of me – giving me napkins for my tears or trying to find something funny to make me laugh. I do believe that it is really important to have someone to prepare you hot, nutritious meal and to make you a cup of tea (peppermint is my favourite because it settles the stomach and the nerves), because all of these emotions and crying can really tire you off and make you feel sick. Having someone there always helps. I know it is hard, but just look at these periods as if you have the flu and just need someone to help you get better.
- As I have already said, there is not much to be done to make things better so here is my last advice. I have heard from a lot of anxiety sufferers and I do feel it myself that some pampering always helps to make panic attacks sufferers feel better. Massaging their shoulders, head or feet always helps a lot the body to naturally produce some serotonin and other happy hormones. You could also try to prepare them a bubble bath with stress-relieving essential oils (for example lavender) or light up candles and turn on some stress-relieving music. I know that at those days, they don’t actually feel like doing anything or going anywhere, but you might try to persuade them to go for a short walk in the park or book a pampering day at the spa centre. Whatever you do, try to think of some stress-relieving activities without much people and noise, because they will make them feel much worse.
Mental illnesses put a lot of pressure on both the sufferer and their loved ones. In many cases, having a loved one to support you is one of the main reasons for a person with a mental illness to try to get better and to fight the illness and its symptoms tirelessly every day. Unfortunately, such problems many times put a great toll on relationships and make them fall apart. That is because if you choose to be next to someone battling anxiety, panic attacks or depression you have to be prepared to fight alongside them almost every day. I know it is tiring and it is hard but I hope that it will be worth it in the end when those mental problems are put in the past.
Wish you the greatest of luck in battling those problems and symptoms and please share down below other opinions/tips you have on the topic.