Signs of an imminent emotional breakdown
There are typical signs that you might be heading for an emotional breakdown. I know I have been there several times before in my life. Sadly, having a Psychology degree has not made me immune to life’s pressures. The important thing is to recognize the signs and do something to help yourself before you get to the crazy-lost-the-plot-completely stage.
Are you experiencing any of these?
Are you more tearful than normal? Have you been crying over minor things? (I once burst into tears because there were no tomatoes left in the fridge!). This is a sign that you are emotionally overloaded.
2) Feel hopeless, nothing to look forward. Trapped and/or powerless
Sometimes when we have been struggling for a long time, we end up exhausted and begin to feel hopeless. This is often referred to as “learned helplessness”. When people feel that they have no control over their situation, they may also begin to behave in a helpless manner as everything they have tried hasn’t worked or improved their situation. This inaction can lead people to overlook opportunities for relief or change.
3) Everything seems overwhelming
When anxiety prevails and even small things seem to much to deal with, you are more than likely at the end of your tether. Your coping skills have been compromised and you need some time out.
4) Inability to concentrate
If you find that you are unable to focus and concentrate, this may be your body and brain sending you a sign that they are full to capacity.
5) Negative thoughts
Negative thinking tends to persist when our defenses are down. Remind yourself that thoughts are just that – thoughts. You can choose to ignore them and not focus on them. Just because you think them does not mean they are true or based in reality.
6) Unable to see perspective
When it feels as if life has always been difficult, you may be suffering from a lack of perspective. When negativity takes over we can tend to feel sorry for ourselves and forget to look at the good stuff that exists.
7) Withdrawing from others, isolating yourself
Are you spending more time alone and declining invitations to see others. Be careful – the more we isolate ourselves the more comfortable we become with this situation but being alone can lead to depression and further negative feelings and low self esteem.
When you are nearing an emotional breakdown, you are in constant “fight or flight” mode. This is very exhausting for the body and will lead you to feeling tired even if you are still getting the same amount of sleep.
9) Increasing looking for ways to escape – gambling, drinking, drugs to excess
Is your life feeling so unbearable that you are beginning to fantasise about escaping? Some us of can turn to unhelpful behaviours such as drinking alcohol, taking drugs or other addictive type behaviours. This short term fix just adds to problems in the long run.
WHAT TO DO:
5 Keys for Emotional Balance While Nearing an Emotional Breakdown
1. Believe in Yourself
If you don’t believe in yourself, no one else will. Start each day by thinking positively about yourself. Believe that you can get through each day and that you can handle the things you choose to take on. Prepare yourself emotionally each morning for the day ahead.
2. Set Small Goals (Baby steps)
Finding small successes along the way is very important in order to keep you going. Start out small – look for little things to begin with For some, this means getting out of bed before 1pm. Think big, but give yourself room to succeed.
3. Choose Your Friends Wisely
Surround yourself with only those people who build you up and want to see you succeed.Find people who inspire you and believe you and help you to look at possibilities rather than why something is impossible.It is important to have this support for the days when you are convinced you will never be able to find your way.
4. Learn to Ask for Help
This is a big one and I know I have always been guilty of this. I find it very difficult to ask others for help and I have to work on making myself vulnerable at times. I have had to learn to ask. I never had thought about the gift of receiving. Learning to ask for help was a huge challenge but something that allowed me to see the generous spirit in others and gave me the opportunity to practice gratitude. Reach out and don’t be afraid to admit you are struggling.
5. Deal with Your Feelings
When you are in survival mode, you don’t have time to deal with your emotions as you are too busy surviving. The problem with burying your feelings is that they don’t go away. They seep into other areas of your life. This might lead you to being short-tempered/irritable or drinking one more alcohol at night. You have to get a hold of your feelings. Why? Because once you get a hold of them, you can let them go.
I love this saying from Buddha: “Holding on to anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.” I still have my angry moments, but I now understand the importance in letting them go. I am also aware when I am seeing myself as a victim – in essence giving away my power. Learning to take responsibility for myself and my life has empowered me to feel more in control with more options.
Don’t lose hope if you feel stressed out and feel you are teetering on the edge. I feel that way regularly. Depending on the day, it can happen more than once where I feel the urge to run away. Knowing that this is how life can be and accepting this has helped me to deal with tough times. Instead of resisting, I accept that I am having a rough day or three and I work to be kinder to myself as well as looking for solutions to ease the stress. And leave the guilt behind when you do pamper yourself – you are important and will be of no use to anyone if you do get to the stage where the emotional breakdown is in full swing!