Coping with an Emotional Breakdown

We hear the term “mental breakdown”, “nervous breakdown (which generally isn’t used anymore)”, and “emotional breakdown” quite often in the mental health world. For the purpose of this post, I am defining an emotional breakdown as a period of time when an emotion that’s been ignored/ not processed slams into you like a freight train causing all sorts of feelings and emotional upheaval. I generally define a mental breakdown as one that requires professional intervention. They’re similar but not the same thing. An emotional breakdown is something that you can manage generally by yourself (although therapy is *always* a good idea).

I had an emotional breakdown last week.

It came out of nowhere but now when I look back on it, I can see where it came from. I am dealing with a lot and while I thought I was handling it with majestic grace, I wasn’t.

My hours have been severely cut at my retail job. This means I am probably going to lose my benefits like health/life insurance. So, Blessing Manifesting gets to step up and become my main thing. I have avoided that for years. I’ve never wanted what I do here to feel like something I *have* to do. I don’t want it to be fueled by the anxiety of making money (though it’s a pretty awesome bonus) and paying bills. This is something I do because I love it. It makes me happy. To add that extra pressure of asking it to fully support me is hard and requires adjustment.

It also looks like my husband might have to have another back surgery. We don’t know for sure, but he recently had an x-ray that looked problematic so he has a CT scan in the next few days to provide a clearer picture. This will be his 4th back surgery in a year. The last one required emergency surgery, on Christmas Eve no less, due to a complication and I was a mess.

So this last year was rough, on top of Covid. I’ve had to be a caregiver while juggling two jobs, finances, and because of his restrictions, all of the household responsibilities. Trying to be supportive while he’s frustrated with his limitations and in pain with a healthy dose of my past trauma to contend with as well.

It all hit me at once and I spent an hour crying in the shower.

We’re four months post-op from his last surgery. This is about the time when things should be getting *better*. The thought of having to go through all of it all over again just really knocked me on my ass. It was the first time I’d cried since December and it was like I couldn’t turn it off.

For the next few days, I just felt so sad and empty and weepy. I slept, a lot. And then I slept some more.

I think it was day four when a Facebook memory popped up from five years ago. I talked about how I was going through a period of depression and listed the ways I was going to reach out and help myself. Perfect timing.

So the next day I made myself wake up early and I spent some time finally clearing out my flowerbed while listening to one of my favorite audiobooks. Then I walked to the store and picked out my favorite fruits to add them to my lunch and then I wrote down how I was feeling in my journal and it helped. I felt accomplished and that chased away some of the shadows. The next day I spent more time outside just sitting in the sunshine and trying to take myself out of my normal routine and that helped too.

Emotional breakdowns happen and the key to getting through them is paying attention to your needs.

Gardening, journaling, taking walks, meditation, and changing my routine help for me and it’s important to find what helps for you.

It’s now been three days and I’m feeling a lot better. I’m still feeling physically exhausted and emotionally drained but I also feel like things are going to be okay. I don’t feel like I’m going to fall headlong into a depressive episode. I just had to acknowledge that I’m not Superwoman and this is a lot for one person and I am allowed to have feelings. It doesn’t make me a bad partner or person to struggle with all of this. I am allowed to feel frustrated and overwhelmed and worried. I just have to stop bottling it up and feel those feelings.

What’s your go-to when you’re going through an emotional breakdown?