Am I Having a Breakdown II: Everything is Awful
Before we begin: all the same disclaimers for the first post apply to this one. I’m not a mental health professional, I’ve just happened upon things to do as someone with a long list of mental health issues that have been useful, and would like to share some with you in the hope that you find something useful too.
A list of self inquiry questions went around a couple mental health awareness days ago that actually resonated with me. The title caught my eye: Everything Is Awful and I’m Not Okay: questions to ask before giving up. I thought to myself, “Yes, thank you, everything is awful, and I’m not okay,” in the midst of mental health campaigns that tried to convince me, a person with a life long situation of Depression, that I was in fact ok.
So I read it. It was pretty good. Here’s my take on some of the questions from this list in particular that I’ve added to my original list.
Have I Showered/Brushed My Teeth/Changed My Clothes?
The older I get, the more important these body cleansing actions have become. When I was 18 and my executive dysfunction was at it’s worst, I could get by with a day or two without any of these things (I know, gross etc, executive dysfunction paired with depression and loneliness made me a rock of a human). My body has changed since then, and with that, my needs and habits.
In the last 6 months I’ve worked on linking up these 3 actions in my waking up routine, which means that if one of them feels impossible to achieve, my mindset could be in an odd place. Or perhaps I’m hungover, which is something else that doesn’t feel the same anymore. Doing even one of the three improves my mood enough to make a difference to the rest of my morning. Sometimes it’s too hard and I have to settle down and rethink my day, but sometimes it’s easy and I don’t have to think about it at all.
How Long Have I Felt This Way?
This question does two things for me. In tracking the beginning of a feeling, there’s a possibility it could reveal a source. In getting to when things started, I also face the reality that this feeling wasn’t always there. Another side purpose of the question is to see if this is the feeling I should be referring back to for therapy, because we all have different standards of what we would consider to be periods of time long enough to become worrisome.
Feelings are not permanent states of being, and waiting for things to pass while acknowledging the things that I feel is something that I’ve been working on for what feels like a very long time. I’m bad at it, but I’ve accepted that I am and I can work on consciously improving.
Have I Stretched?
At one point in my life, my GP, my mother, my therapist and my physio were all telling me to work some exercise into my life. I’m terrible at making time to move my body, and there’s a lot of different things about that that I should work on outside of trying to find the right way to exercise for me, but what I can do in the meantime is stretch my body.
Learning how to stretch out my computer frozen muscles has been enough work that I’ve realised that my body is breaking apart. Stretching is something small that I can do in bed, laying down, even if I’m too depressed to move.
Have I Taken My Meds?
This one is new, simply because my meds are new. I’m bad at doing things on a regular basis. It’s been over 6 months and I can’t get the hang of the medication schedule I’ve been prescribed. If I miss a day or two, my moods will fluctuate in old ways, and I need to check off whether or not I can take my meds.
I’ve also had friends mention that the pill has affected their moods in dramatic ways, which makes sense. If you take any kind of regular medicine, this should also be a good question to ask when you feel that things are awful.
Existing takes a lot of energy for some of us. Having the will to make decisions, to not take action, to consciously decide on things and to keep track of yourself in ways that not everyone seems to do is exhausting, and sometimes things are fucking awful. Sometimes you’ll have breakdowns, acknowledge the breakdown, and have a list of options to choose from. These are my options. They’ve worked for me. There have been times when I haven’t been able to do any of them, but in those times I’ve always, always managed to hold on and wait the feeling out.
Everything can be awful, and I can be not ok. Knowing what I can and can’t do helps me draw a line around my Not Ok, define it, and store it away for later when I have the mind space to address it. My list is always long and complicated and the work is constant. Sometimes I just need a break.
Take a nap,