Avoid a Mental Breakdown. Allow Yourself to Release Pent-Up Stress.
My impending mental breakdown drove me to regress back into my childhood.
When I was in college, I nearly had a mental breakdown. What saved me was a few trippy episodes of regressing to my childhood.
Before I realized, the giggles echoed. My ear to ear grin of a 7-year-old boy brightened the room. The problem? I was a 20-year-old man on the brink of mental breakdown.
Why would a 20-year-old man regress to a child-like state? I experienced an episode of age regression.
I was likely on the brink of a mental breakdown and didn’t even know it.
“If the problem can be solved, why worry? If the problem cannot be solved, worrying will do you no good.”
College ripped me from one life and forced me into another.
These episodes started to happen after I went to college. I struggled for the first two years. College ripped me from one life and forced me into another.
The people were weird, and the social scenes were awkward. I felt attacked for appreciating popular music and TV shows. And coursework was brutal.
Picture fitting a square block into a round hole. I didn’t fit. But when I did fit, the defining corners of my personality were scuffed and cramped.
When I came home, all of that washed away.
A couple of hours sitting with mom wiped out all the prejudice, racial or otherwise.
She was my calm corner (wo)man who patched me up between 10-week rounds of my 12-quarter bought with academics.
My voice changed, and my demeanor, too.
I cuddled up close to mom on the couch, nearly sitting on her lap. We’d talk about family and friends from the past.
Then it happened. My voice changed, and my demeanor, too. I used the high pitched voice and simple sentences of a young child. My emotions were pure and simple, not clouded by adult reasoning.
None of that happened on purpose. I just found myself there. But it must have served a function.
In hindsight, my age regressions were a defense mechanism triggered by my mom’s presence.
They helped me cope with the extreme pressure of performing academically while alone, in a strange place, with genuinely odd people.
I’m thankful. I got mental breaks and never had a full mental breakdown.
What does a mental breakdown look like?
“Mental breakdown” isn’t a clinical term. Still, it is a generalized state associated with stress, burnout, depression, PTSD, anxiety, schizophrenia, or other psychiatric disorders.
These are examples of what dysfunction looks like during or preceding a mental breakdown.
- Loss of sense of self
- Calling off from work
- Wide fluctuations in emotions
- Avoiding social engagements
- Decreased pleasure from hobbies
- Increased alcohol or drug use
- Unhealthy eating, sleeping, hygiene patterns
- Hallucinations/ delusions
- Panic attacks/ paranoia
- Forgetfulness, memory loss
- Dissociation, fugue, or regression states
- Thoughts of harming others or self-harm.
Delusions and Hallucinations usually signify psychiatric illness.
A person on the brink of a mental breakdown may feel like the world is out to get him. This impression is more intense than karma or luck. His concern is more like paranoia and may be associated with delusions or panic attacks.
An example of a delusion is if someone believes her neighbors are watching and following her. Another example is when a dementia patient believes his son is trying to poison him.
Hallucinations may be visual, auditory, or tactile. I’ve seen patients who see a young child sitting on the corner of the hospital bed singing. Other times, people hear evil voices inciting violence on the radio.
Someone on the brink may have out of portion reactions to minor offenses.
During my training, a coworker got calls from her husband around midday. They’d often be about pretty mundane things such as household chores. One day, from one room over, I overheard her screaming at the top of her lungs into the telephone. When she returned to our workroom, she was in tears.
I got married at the end of my training program. Licensing exams were coming up, and we were preparing for a cross country move. In an ill fate of luck, right before all of this in the middle of wedding planning, I had to change apartments because of changes to the property’s pet policy.
I was impossible to work with. I dreaded working. My patience was paper-thin. Whenever my wife asked a question at home, I took it as a personal insult and became defensive.
“It is not a daily increase, but a daily decrease. Hack away at the inessentials.”
– Bruce Lee
If you recognize these symptoms in yourself first, don’t panic.
Life is stressful. Take a breath. Accept that you are struggling mentally right now. Then consider these suggestions.
- Give yourself a break. Use vacation time at work. Get an excuse from school. We all deserve a mental health day every so often.
- Practice mindfulness. Get out of your head and into the present. Use exercise, meditation, music, etc. to forget about the stresses of life.
- Seek help. Call upon friends, family, or mentors to vent about your worries. Share with them what’s triggering your instability. Even consider sharing which symptoms you’re experiencing.
- If you’ve already been diagnosed with a psychiatric disorder, then reach out to your mental health professionals. Call your therapist, psychiatrist, or primary doctor. Make sure you have an adequate supply of any prescription medications, as well.
- Call the suicide hotline at 1–800 273 8255 if you are considering harming yourself.
- If you’re hallucinating or thinking of harming yourself or others, then go to the hospital. There, doctors can restart your usual medications. You can get emergency psychiatric help.
Do you see symptoms in someone else?
If you noticed some of these symptoms in someone else, then consider these suggestions.
- Ask them how they’re doing. Ask if they are ok. It is essential to communicate that you see the other person struggling. Provide a listening ear.
- You may need to notify your boss, dean, resident head, or some superior who is mandated to investigate. This way, even if you can’t help, you know someone is looking into the situation.
- If someone is actively hallucinating or suicidal, they need medical help. Try to get them to the hospital or call an ambulance if you have to.
Until next time my people.