How To Have A Nervous Breakdown

Step one: take your entire life and just throw it into a blender.

Step two: pretend like everything is totally fine while moving closer and closer to the edge.

Step three: …

Actually, I don’t know – how do you have a nervous breakdown?

Is there a guide? Am I supposed to do certain things to accomplish this task? Is it a task, or is that the problem right there, that I just tried to figure out how to schedule my nervous breakdown?

That first step up there is how mine started though. Life + Blender = 🤯

Up until 2021, I think things had been going pretty well. Sure the whole global pandemic added a new element of ick to the world, but for the most part that was manageable – there were specific things I could do to protect myself (masks, vaccinations, extreme introverted isolation). Then 2021 rolled up with an industrial-strength blender.

When the only things you need to worry about taking care of are yourself, your job and a couple of house plants; life is pretty straightforward. Then suddenly the responsible adult, who has been sheltering you from all the family drama, passes away leaving you as the responsible adult and there is massive upheaval.

Work stresses that had been growing quietly suddenly become insurmountable, but you push on, white-knuckling through, trying to put all the family drama in little boxes and organize them so you can focus back on your own life. It is difficult though.

I can be judgemental, not because I want to be, but because sometimes I don’t understand why people can’t be pragmatic and do things…well…how I think they should be done. It isn’t that I think my way is best, it is more that no one can provide an alternative and if you can’t offer that, then what is wrong with my plan? It is frustrating dealing with people who are immovable. Unwilling to make changes, despite the fact that huge changes have already occurred and they need to adapt.

I take on too much because I have trust and control issues. I don’t know how people can just abandon family and go off and do their own things. That being said, I am getting very close to just selling everything I own, buying a camper and running away.

Back to the blender, 2021 came to a close, and I did run away for a little while, visited some friends and tried to turn off. It went okay, but in the back of my mind, I was still making lists of things I needed to do.

Then 2022 rolled up and took my blender beaten life and decided to see how much more damage it could do.

The least responsible person in my life died, leaving disaster in his wake. I wanted to go running to the farthest point I could find, knowing it was not going to go well. I didn’t. It didn’t.

I tried to focus on working and organizing the other people in my life as best I could with them being fairly adamant about nothing changing. I did not manage to do so.

For a long time, there has been a growing…rage? frustration? dread? in my life. It is hard to explain, other than to say that before I was content. Things weren’t perfect, show me someone whose life is and I will show you someone who is likely lying or in denial, but I was content.

During this tax season, my boss asked me how I was doing – if I was feeling too overwhelmed by work? We’d already reduced our client base by half and work was less stressful but at the same time, I had so many personal stressors that everything was bleeding together. I think a phone call came in and we didn’t have a chance to discuss it further, which was good because I didn’t know what I would say. There was a chance I would have just said, it’s fine and gone back to my office. Would it have been the truth? No, but what else can you say?

In the past, the way I could get through stress at work was by knowing that I had my personal life organized.

The last year and a half have taken that organization, which took years to achieve and destroyed it. I feel like I am constantly failing, that at any minute the entire thing, my life, is going to explode.

Is it too much? Probably. Have I been expecting too much of myself? Absolutely. Am I sitting here typing this on the verge of tears? Yup.

My body is in pain, and my mind is screaming. I want to disappear and not have to deal with this. I want to abandon everyone and if they fail, that is fine.

Except I can’t. And it isn’t.

There is no one to take my workload on.

There is no one who will step up and deal with the family members who are struggling.

There is no one to take care of me.

I hope I can find the balance but it is seeming impossible.

So I’m asking, how do you have a nervous breakdown?

How does the responsible person lose their mind?

How do I ensure that I don’t find myself surrounded by a rubble heap made up of my mind and my life?

Even typing this I don’t know if I want to publish it? Does everyone need to know that I’m not okay? Does that help? No. Will I publish anyway? If you are reading this, then yes, but not because I want you to help me. I don’t think anyone can help me (unless someone has a couple of million dollars they want to throw my way so I can run away).

You can probably commiserate with me though because we all have problems. Big – small – real – invented; sometimes the best way to deal with them is to just scream into the void and then go back to work.

That’s how I have a nervous breakdown. This time anyway.

The Bunny

Don’t trust the Bunny, look at that face! Clearly Bunny is hiding something. Those flowers are not organic & Bunny may try to stab you with a carrot when you aren’t looking!*

*yeah, I am crazy and it’s only Wednesday

Green

Envy is a strange emotion. Like any emotion it can get you into trouble if you aren’t careful.

Some people live in the land of envy, I’m sure you’ve met one or two of these people before. They see everyone around them as a source of their deficiencies, almost as if they think everyone else’s existence is directed at them as an example of everything they are missing. Our culture seems to be pushing more people towards this type of thinking, consumerism and social media creating a feeling of lacking.

Most people only visit envy though, knowing that it isn’t healthy to dwell on things you don’t have. Either go out and get them or move on.

I’m often envious not of people’s material things but of their willpower or resilience. I can figure out a way to buy nice things, I can not figure out a way to convince myself I like exercising or eating tomatoes. Or those people that are happy regardless of the hundreds of ways you could explain to them why they shouldn’t because… everything!

Basically my envy is due to my laziness and pragmatism, but as I said it’s important to know when to move on. I’m never going to enjoy tomatoes or exercise, and no matter how much distance I put between myself and the news I’ll always know the world is a little too scary for me to be ignorantly happy.

Oddities

We all have strange little habits, ones that we don’t always notice but then when we do, have us asking: Am I the only person who does this?

For instance I am conditioned to be polite. I’ll be alone in a room and burp/sneeze/whatever, then excuse myself, to no one (or maybe just to the ghost that lives in my house). It is automatic.

Sometimes it’s as if I’m apologizing for inconveniencing, myself? Was I bothered by it in the first place? Nope, but it doesn’t stop me, even when I realize, I’ll do it again.

I bump into walls then find myself saying ‘ow!’, despite it not actually being painful. Annoying sure, but for some reason my brain thinks bumping into anything might cause pain so it decides we better say it just in case.

Obviously there are worse things than conditioned politeness or pointless exclamations, but it is a reminder how easily our brains can be conditioned. How we can train our brains to ignore things they shouldn’t. Yet it is important to notice our oddities so they can maybe help us notice other things that are detrimental to our wellbeing.

That being said I still can’t train my brain to crave salad over chips, so I will probably go on chatting with the ghost or multidimensional beings I interrupt with a sneezing fit while eating a bag of chips. Personal growth takes time, maybe in my next life I’ll figure it out.

Buzzing Brain

My head is noisy at the best of times. Work noise, life noise, worry noise, pointless noise.

If I’m lucky I can quiet it down for a bit. Distract it with music, TV, a book, even an interesting file at work.

If I’m not so lucky my brain starts swirling about from thought to thought. One thing will remind me of another and off it goes until I’ve forgotten what I was trying to determine in the first place.

That was the case today when I was supposed to be relaxing, as needles placed by the acupuncturist to “calm my mind” were not expecting my buzzing brain.

From reno projects, to work deadlines, to questions/worry about the state of the world, today brain was having none of the calm.

Now that it is time for bed I am hoping that it got most of its chaotic thoughts out, maybe then the needles placed to encourage better sleep will not have been a wasted effort.

Maybe I can go to sleep and wake up feeling refreshed (odd concept, rarely happens) because a refreshed brain is much better at handling a buzzing brain that is worrying about the state of…well, everything.

Current Questions – Part II

  1. February? Already?
  2. Is tax season going to kill me this year?
  3. How long is my arm going to hurt? (Worth it, being vaccinated & boosted is cool! But still ow. 😕)
  4. Did I drink enough water today?
  5. Is this headache going to go away?
  6. Can I magically find the time & energy to accomplish my to-do list?
  7. Did you answer me before when I asked if you liked the number seven?
  8. Do you prefer alternating or direct?
  9. Did you get that last question?
  10. Follow up to 9: did you audibly groan? 🤣

My Repeating Annoyances

I am sure we all have a list like this, the things that no matter how many times they happen, we never learn our lesson or seem to be able to avoid falling prey to their irritation.

  • Laundry will be done and in need of folding exactly when I want to just crawl into bed.
  • Related: Forgetting to make the bed with the clean linens until I’m wanting to crawl into said linens and go to sleep.
  • Putting an item I need to take somewhere beside the door, then leaving without said item.
  • Related: Needing to bring something home from work that I don’t remember until I’m pulling into the driveway.
  • Finding the energy to do some thing around the yard, that I’ve been procrastinating about, at the exact time it starts raining/snowing/whatever so I have to put it off again.
  • Trying over and over to buy back ups of my favourite clothes when they’re on sale but not managing to do it before they get a hole in them or completely wear out, forcing me to go without said favourite clothes or buy them at full price.
  • Grabbing an extra piece of paper towel, every time, until the entire roll is basically in piles of folded napkins on my coffee table/desk.
  • Meaning to call, text or email someone before they contact me and 99% failing by minutes.
  • Being exhausted beyond words right up until the moment my head hits the pillow when my brain starts thinking ALL THE THINGS.
  • Related: Thinking about people no longer in my life when my brain bounces randomly around from thought to thought then hits one tangentially connected to said people but this time gets stuck instead of bouncing off to the next thought.
  • Realizing I have to replace/recharge the batteries in something just as I need to use it.

Obviously these are just as the title says, annoyances, in their existence and their recurrence. Are they signs of a distracted mind? Probably. A busy one too.

We all have so much on our plates these days little annoyances are bound to pop up. Some toxic optimist would say you can’t have pleasing things without these types of experience for perspective.

Well I say I should be old enough now to not require examples in order to form obvious conclusions.

Knowing and writing this will not help. I’ll absolutely do at least one of these things within the next week.

I guess I should get used to them, but what fun is there for a stubborn, argumentative soul if they don’t have insignificant problems to complain about?

Time to go curl up in bed on a pile of clean linens while thinking about people I don’t want to and trying to fall asleep. 😉

New Mechanisms

The past few years have been, well shitty, for many of us. One way or another the pandemic has affected our lives, added another layer of stress to what, for many, was already too much.

I definitely have felt like more than one layer has been laid upon my life. Getting older comes with a few built in challenges for ourselves physically and mentally, plus from our families who are also getting older and experiencing similar challenges.

As you grow up you realise your parents won’t be around forever, but you hope it won’t impact your life too much. It does, no matter when it happens, but especially when you aren’t ready for it.

Happening during a stressful time in the world doesn’t help.

Happening when you have an extra stressful job half the year doesn’t help either.

Yet, some things have a habit of happening when you are least prepared for them.

I’ve said I vent here, to my (ever patient) friends, to my physical health practitioners. Well tomorrow I’m adding mental health practitioner.

Perhaps it is more accurate to say that I’m going to SEE if that is something that could help me deal with my stress/grief/anxiety.

I have never spoken with a mental health practitioner (counsellor/psychologist/etc) as far as I recall (my brain has a habit of archiving it’s harddrive, I’m the worst at remembering my own past).

Tomorrow I will try to discuss my life with a stranger – this could be interesting. If nothing else maybe tomorrow I’ll have something to write about – or are you not supposed to do that? Guess I will find out.

Reactions

I have been thinking about how people react to situations lately. Questioning why they decide to take a certain point of view or make a specific choice.

Humans seem to inevitably assume we are correct in our position and decisions. We are also a naturally stubborn species.

Yes, of course there are those who manage to rise above the fray and give those of us who care something to aspire towards, but for the most part we all act the same. With different ethics or morals in play. Different history creating different decision matrices in our brains.

I know this, yet I still become apoplectic when dealing with some people and their inability to listen or behave in a manner I feel best. I’m not saying I’m always right but…sometimes I am.

Experience teaches us all and when people specifically ignore your experience in a certain arena it is disappointing and in some circumstances potentially ill-advised.

The proverbial they, say that we only get truly angry when our core beliefs are threatened. My core beliefs are very practical, logical and scientifically based but my reactions to a perceived threat are almost visceral.

Yes, I can rant with the best of them. Incoherently scream until I’m blue in the face knowing it will get me nowhere because changing other people’s minds is difficult or sometimes impossible.

My reactions at these times, ranting to those close to me about other people’s poor choices, is always interesting to me. I lose an ability to calm myself, eventually I will, once I’ve vented my frustrations. As soon as I am done though I always wonder why I can’t stay calm. I have that ability in my professional life. People can say the most inane things to me as clients and I will nod and smile to them. Sure, as soon as they leave I am ranting to my coworkers, but that client thinks I am a beacon of professional grace.

So why can’t I react the same way in non-client interactions?

Family ones for instance. Sure you’ll probably say, ‘Well, family is different’. Okay, I suppose I care less about what they think of me and perhaps I think it is more important for them to benefit from my experience. Still it is the place where I could most benefit from that calm professionalism and I know this. So why does my brain go all prehistoric rage monster when I need it to be an enlightened calm monk?

We are such a complicated species and the last few years have definitely shown us the best and worst we are all capable of.

I think perhaps we all need to work on using our professional demeanor more in order to temper our reactions. One day I’ll find my inner calm for all situations, I’m working on it but it takes time and more patience than I currently have in reserve.

PS: I still don’t get why people make irrational, illogical choices but at least ranting…er…writing about it here makes me feel a little better.

A Long Time Ago…

That sounds like the opening to a novel. This is not a novel, but one has to start a story in some manner, so why not.

A long time ago, I used to be able to write whenever I put my fingers on the keyboard or a writing utensil to paper. It was a feeling like the words wanted to be created. Not that those words together necessarily formed anything that was worth reading, but they existed and that felt like an accomplishment.

When I say a long time ago, I don’t know exactly how long, decades maybe, but time seems to become less rigidly calculable the older I get. I will think of an event and realize that it happened much more recently or distant than I thought. So long ago feels like decades, but may have been only years.

Either way that habit of writing that felt so natural has become more of an effort. I’m sure I can think of numerous reasons that I find myself at a loss for words. Exhaustion from work/life. Lack of interesting things to say because of a lack of time or energy to experience new things to discuss. Maybe our brains just become less skilled at certain things over time, other mundane thoughts and tasks taking over the space where those words once flowed.

Repetition becomes a habit. We tell the same stories over and over (am I doing that now?), instead of creating new ones; everything by rote. A little bit like how our lives tend to take on routines: wake up; go to work; eat some food; go to sleep; repeat.

For the majority of us, we don’t seem to break out of these routines often. Lives based on specific needs create scenarios to fulfil those needs. We have to work to earn money to have a life, so we do, perhaps to the detriment of said life. It is a fine balance and that repetition prevents us from falling too far from our comfortable little bubbles. Never leaving our little bubbles though means less input for new stories.

A long time ago I was young and learning all the things, now I am older, still learning but the lessons aren’t always as impactful and generally not as interesting to try to relay. These days I open this blog, desperately wanting to feel that natural flow of words, but I stare at the page and spend too much time wondering if anyone else will care about my words (sometimes I wonder if I am even making sense when I do write).

This is where I am, comfortable in my bubble, but lacking new experiences to describe to you or perhaps lacking the will to impart some of those recent experiences.

I don’t wish to be in the past, that time is gone, those lessons learned (or not), but I do wish my mind could revert back to that state of expression. Maybe it is something that can be achieved through habit, can you relearn natural expression or am I writing on repeat?