How I broke up with my breakdowns

Wednesday, May 20, 2020 - 7:52pm

This year I battled with psychosis and my clinical depression and it changed my life. I was confronted with some of my darkest demons. I felt out of touch with reality and my identity. Illusions and sensations became so terrifyingly vivid that my ability to function in everyday life had been disrupted. 

I saw the darkest parts of my psyche, and yet I came back with a completely altered perception of the world. I learned that just like the outside world, our minds can be dangerous places and this is, to a large degree, out of our control. You see, with mental illness, chemicals alter our perceptions of ourselves and our positions in the world. It can completely warp the world and how we view it, it can completely alter relationships and major life decisions. I spent almost a full month in an extremely warped state and as terrifying of an experience as it was, it has allowed me to develop into a stronger, more intentional person. It also connected me with a plethora of resources and support I wouldn’t have had otherwise. Of course, no two people have the same brain or journey and experiences with these tools may differ, but with hard work and support, I am able to lean into myself, my needs and I am able to feel strong.  

 

  1. I Took Treatment and Recovery Seriously

- Therapy

  • If your mental health is damaging your ability to function optimally or at all, seeing a health professional is extremely important. Friends and family can be a wonderful support system, but a licensed professional can give unbiased, credentialed guidance. I’ve found cognitive behavioral therapy, psychiatry and music therapy to be the most helpful in my recovery. 

  • Trusting someone and being genuinely vulnerable to another person can be extremely challenging, but with time comes the development of a relationship with a health professional that can not only provide guidance, but also provide another pillar of emotional support.

  • If you are unable to afford traditional therapy, there are a plethora of free mental health apps as well as online mental health resources, including books that you can cater to your personal experience or sentiments. 

  • In the case of an emergency, please do not hesitate to reach out to crisis text and phone lines. The numbers for these can be found in the link above.

- Medication

  • It was very difficult for me to become comfortable with taking medications; it can be hard to come to terms with relying on a substance to remain balanced. I found developing a relationship of trust with my psychologist and therapist to be the most helpful in making my decision on taking substances. 

  • Medication is not always accessible, and for many people it is against cultural beliefs, and this can pose an issue as well. This is okay. Take your time, do what you need and rely on alternative therapy and the other listed methods. 

  • Sometimes the chemical imbalances in our brains can’t be remedied without the help of medication. My tía says it's like “driving a car without oil.” Medications can be a really sustainable way to balance your brain chemicals. Personally, finding the right medication has been really helpful in allowing me to sustain my progress — of course it may not work for everyone and everyone is affected differently. 

  • Do not feel rushed or pressured to make a decision on this matter right away (it took me years and I am far from done). Connect with your support system and weigh out the pros and cons as you see fit. Your mental health is ultimately in your own hands and this matter requires you to be intuitive as well as your own biggest advocate, which can be difficult in itself.

 2.  I Spent More Time With Loved Ones 

- Be Open to Love

  • The circumstances of my most dangerous depressive episode showed me the value of unconditional love. The interactions I had with my family and friends during this time helped me immensely in my recovery. Unconditional love can remind you of what you value, ensure you feel supported, show you tangible aspects of your reality and teach you how to think outside of yourself in your current mental space.

-  Be Aware of How My Mental Illness Affects Others

- How you feel affects those who love you and your relationship with them. When in a deep depressive state, it is difficult to see beyond that. That can include the sentiments and challenges that your loved ones are experiencing both related and unrelated to your situation. By starting to take active intention into staying mindful and aware of how those around you are doing, I was able to focus on others rather than being consumed by my illnesses.  

3. I Found Routines That Set Me Up For a Healthy and Productive Lifestyle

- Journaling

     - Keeping track of my mood and sentiments throughout the day has led to a productive introspection needed to set my mind on a healthy track. I try to make a habit of stream of consciousness writing as often as possible, allowing me to notice any changes in my mood.

  • Noticing how people, environments and daily habits affect your mood can help you remove — or maintain — things from your life that may be affecting your mental health. This can mean changing who you spend time with, where you spend your time and the circumstances of your environments. Slowly, you will be able to differentiate between the beneficial and counterproductive aspects of your life that may be holding you back.

    • Making a daily checklist of things I want to get done before I relax for the day eases me into a state of positive mental health. Making time for self-care is key.

    • Incorporate a healthy diet
      • What you eat daily can seriously alter how you feel mentally and physically. Do your best to eat a balanced diet filled with fruits and vegetables. I love making smoothies as a healthy way to pack in good nutrition.

      • Consciously indulge as needed - I love ice cream and chocolate.

- Meditation

  • Alternatively to, or in combination with traditional medicine, meditation has been proven to have a positive effect on mental (and physical) conditions.

  • Silencing your mind and focusing your energy on positive frequencies can be incredibly transformative. It is a time where you can find stillness and balance in your inner and outer energy. This is hard to do at first, but devoting time every day or as often as possible to the process will gradually make it easier. 

  • I personally enjoy guided meditations such as those provided by the free app Headspace. There are also great guided meditations on YouTube. 

  • Reading!

     -  Books have been a positive distraction that allow me to clear my mind and focus on intellectual concepts and alternate realities. I found some books and characters can give insights into life and how I navigate various situations. 

  • Don't give up on reading because you haven’t found your favorite genre! If you don't have much access to many books, borrow from friends or look into online resources that provide free and/or inexpensive books. This will allow you to explore various literary interests.

 

4. Letting Go of What Doesn't Serve You

  • Being Here Now

    • One of the main things I was taught in my treatment was the importance of staying present and grounded to the now. Focusing on the current moment has allowed me to detach from things out of my control such as events that have ended or that are yet to happen. This is essentially the art of mindfulness. Meditation can help with making this a brain habit.

    • There may be things in your life that are only shackling you more to the self you want to be free from. There may be environments or certain people in your life who you may need to let go of in order to move forward on your best path.

    • I am not an expert on energy, but I have learned that it operates as a give and take, an exchange of negative and positive. Letting go of certain negative habits, people or behaviors can make room for more positive alternatives.

 

In a matter of months, I was forced to drastically improve my mental health. After feeling like I was suffocating for so long, I found a way to breathe. I hope that people can find some sort of hope, guidance or even a connection to my continuous journey to inner peace and sanity.