How to get over the fact that I just had a breakdown?
March 1, 2013 6:13 PM   Subscribe

Two days ago I had some sort of emotional/mental breakdown. I got help in the immediate sense, but I'm not sure how to process and get over it.

Trying to avoid being too graphic, but still give some clarity. Two days ago I skipped work, sat in my bath tub and merrily cut the shit out of myself many many times. After a while I kind of 'woke up', freaked out and ran into my living room and collapsed crying on the floor.

I got help, I called people, went to the ER, spoke to a shrink. That's fine. I'm as good as I can be at this point. But what I'm having trouble with is getting my head around the fact that I did that. That my mental state went so off the wall that I hurt myself that much and was so happy about it at the time. I know I need a therapist, but I can't afford the time or money right now. I'm looking for advice, maybe anecdotes, books or websites. And hell, even a name for what happened, if there is some kind of term for it?

Mods, please feel free to take this down or edit it if it's too..unpleasant.
posted by trogdole to Health & Fitness (24 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
I know I need a therapist, but I can't afford the time or money right now.

Make the time, and start looking for some kind of free mental health services in your area. There's bound to be something available, such as a support group at least. This is a very serious matter, as serious as anything else on your plate can possibly be, and you need professional help.

You may also want to ask the mods to anonymize this.
posted by orange swan at 6:18 PM on March 1, 2013 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Wichita, KS
posted by trogdole at 6:25 PM on March 1, 2013

I'm so sorry you are going through this, and I hope you are in a safe place now. IANATherapist, but it seems to me that you can't afford NOT to seek some type of therapy. There may be hospitals in your area with charity care for treatment. Your mental and physical health is of highest priority here. From your description, you don't indicate any warning signs or past episodes like this. If that's the case, I hope you have some people in your life who can offer immediate support to you. That is, I worry about you being alone because it seems like you can't tell if or when this may happen again.
posted by bluespark25 at 6:26 PM on March 1, 2013

The psychiatrist in the hospital should have provided some referrals to you. You can call that doctor back and ask for referrals if s/he didn't provide them; it's any treatment professional's ethical responsibility to provide referrals for continuing care, particularly after an emergency like what you described. It is REALLY IMPORTANT to consider that it's not a great idea to try to downplay or ignore what happened, and that it's time to make the time for therapy.

liketitanic's link above is a great place to start. There's a list of other community counseling centers (read: cheap and/or sliding scale based on your income) on their website here:
posted by so_gracefully at 6:35 PM on March 1, 2013

Response by poster: Okay, therapist is something I have to make time for. Check. In the meantime, any ideas on a jumping point for googling what that was?
posted by trogdole at 6:49 PM on March 1, 2013 [1 favorite]

The (very thankfully) one time I cut myself was because I was in an incredible amount of emotional pain and had no way to express it. The self-mutilation was very grounding, brought me out of my head and into my body, and the physical pain overrode the mental anguish. I'm not saying it's the same for you, but what else is going on in your life?

And yes, absolutely time for some therapy. Hang in there.
posted by Specklet at 7:00 PM on March 1, 2013 [1 favorite]

check your memail.
posted by KathrynT at 7:08 PM on March 1, 2013

In the meantime, any ideas on a jumping point for googling what that was?

The Mayo Clinic lays down some science for you. I do not endorse self-diagnosis, but take heart in knowing that what you experienced is probably something the pro's know about, and can help you with.
posted by Slap*Happy at 7:12 PM on March 1, 2013

In the meantime, any ideas on a jumping point for googling what that was?

First, I am SO GLAD you are getting therapy you don't even know. So glad. Second, I know people who have had things like this happen to them, and they have been because of: reaction to (non psychiatric) medication; onset of bipolar disorder; one-time episode that was never repeated and never explained; unexpected reaction to an extreme stressor (death of a loved one, divorce). I don't think you should get into a googling fix about it until you talk to the mental health provider a bit.

I had a very very extreme panic attack/depressive thing that ended up in a year and a half of major depression with medication etc and it kind of gave me the wake up call that I have been going through things like this since my early 20s and I am a person prone to depression and anxiety. However - if I listened to random shit the internet and friends told me based on nothing, I would have been convinced I had borderline personality disorder, ADD, social anxiety disorder, just a bunch of things I do not have but the internet can make it seem like you have and your friends can tell you you have because they don't know and you are annoying them by not being the person they expect you to be.

Hang in there.
posted by sweetkid at 7:12 PM on March 1, 2013 [8 favorites]

a year and a half of major depression with medication etc

I missed the edit window but I also meant to say I had a therapist as well as the medication. I still have the same therapist, and I strongly believe talk therapy goes along with any medication. Just wanted to be sure to make that clear.
posted by sweetkid at 7:20 PM on March 1, 2013 [1 favorite]

You asked for anecdotes. Ideas? Well, I'm so not a therapist (and I'm on board w/ everyone saying you should speak with one), and. also, I'm pressed for time. But, I have a couple of thoughts that hopefully are not "BAD" ideas.

What helped me at a time when all sh*t hit the fan. Having a mantra or two. Telling myself that my craziness is just a behavioral response and I "don't have to act crazy." That was my mantra. I'd say to myself (putting emphasis on different words as I muttered it repeatedly to myself): "You don't HAVE to act crazy. YOU don't have to act crazy. You DON'T have to act crazy. YOU don't have to..." "ACT" "CRAZY." You get the idea.

It had crossed my mind that I would only have freakouts in private. So, if I pictured a friend, my boss, a child... someone... sitting next to me, I knew I would be able to pull it together not to act all cuckoo in front of them. Hence, that particular mantra. But, you might find another little phrase with which to soothe yourself.

Also, owning that you're in a bad way. Knowing it's a transitional phase and that things can only, for god sake, look up. In the meantime, before life improves, taking it easy on myself and knowing that if I'm cranky or sad or otherwise messed up, it's OK. It's normal to not feel all wonderful and great at this particular point in time, and things WILL get better, and I will be nice to myself. And, forgiving. And, I deserve that forgiveness. YOU deserve forgiveness from yourself and from the universe. It's groovy. You'll get there.

Listen to music that is a half step happier than you are. And, maybe increase the happiness factor with each album or each song you listen to. But, don't listen to stuff that will bring you down; that's sadder or more pissed off than you are.

Say no to things you don't want to do. Scrutinize situations and people that surround you and remove yourself from negativity.

Eat breakfast, esp high protein. Eat well. Drink water. Get lots of sleep. Do sh*t that's FUN!!! Round up your real buddies and bend their ears. They understand your pain better than you think they do (we've all gone through stuff).

That's all I've got for now ;-)
And, wear sunscreen.
posted by little_dog_laughing at 7:34 PM on March 1, 2013 [8 favorites]

Checking over your posting history on metafilter, you mentioned a while back that you were taking seroquel. There must have been some reason in the past why you were prescribed that. What happened to you two nights ago might be a more extreme episode of that thing that happened to you in the past. Maybe. Could be something completely different. That's one reason to talk to a therapist; it will take a lot of talking to narrow down all the things it might possibly have been.

It's probably a mistake to try to read up and try to self diagnose, or for us to try to diagnose you. It could have been a lot of things, anything from a perfect storm of stress to a hypomanic episode. For all we know, you might have kuru. In the short term it doesn't matter what the cause was, because the advice we would give you is the same.

First, eat some take out. Second, phone a friend. Whether or not you talk about this with her is up to you, but I suspect a friendly voice would do some good even if it's just exchanging pleasantries. Third, sleep. SLEEP! Shakespeare called it the balm of hurt minds, and it is. I'm aware that you've had trouble sleeping in the past, but if you can sleep, sleep. Right now it is the most important thing you can do for yourself.

See that therapist as soon as you possibly can.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 7:37 PM on March 1, 2013

Response by poster: My gosh, these answers are just the opposite of what I was looking for.
But by the fact that you all are agreeing on these two points, that's probably for the best.

I appreciate the answers so far. I'll stop trying to self-diagnose and acting like it's not as big of a deal as it is. And get a therapist...but no promises on the sunscreen little_dog.
posted by trogdole at 7:43 PM on March 1, 2013 [1 favorite]

That must have been so scary.

You are doing all the right things. You are going to be OK.

This sort of thing can happen to otherwise normal people when they're under abnormal stress. You say that you can't afford the TIME for a therapist. That suggests to me that you're under some external pressure. And maybe because of the way you're wired, you're feeling like those external pressures are real and right and true.

Are they?

This is a time to take stock. Was your acting out in response to something that's going on in your life? Can you remove yourself from that? What is one thing you can do to put some distance between you and the thing that's pressuring you? I am an anonymous person on the internet, but I'm telling you that it is OK to bail.

'Reactive stress', that's a term for Google.
posted by (F)utility at 7:44 PM on March 1, 2013 [1 favorite]

Have you been sleeping okay? Sleep deprevation can cause psychotic symptoms, especially if you already have manic or depressive issues.
posted by tamitang at 8:01 PM on March 1, 2013

Can I ask what kind of answers you were looking for or expecting? More experiences or stories?

I've never had a breakdown though I've felt like I was close before. Usually when I've been in bad shape were at night so I could cry it out or what have you, then try to sleep it off. Most things look better, or at least less dire, after sleep.

I think it's helpful to recognize when I feel like I'm struggling that it's just a feeling and feelings are temporary. It's a small, simple thing but important to know that any time I feel bad, it's not going to last forever.
posted by kat518 at 8:23 PM on March 1, 2013

If I'm reading your history correctly, you are a woman with a male body, yet you have said that
"Gender reassignment surgery is not an option..."

But you've just attacked that body.

I would guess that the conflict between who you are and your body's apparent gender is intensifying, and that you need to find some way of dealing with that better than you are currently doing.
posted by jamjam at 8:29 PM on March 1, 2013

Response by poster: Oh jamjam, that post was a long time ago as far as that's concerned. Surgery is on my to-do list. But that whole shebang is almost definitively part of the cause.
Edit: sorry, threadsitting. I'm logging off now.
posted by trogdole at 8:36 PM on March 1, 2013

I've gone through some similar things. I have found group therapy to be much more helpful to me than one-one one, and in most cities there are a number of free support groups for these sorts of things. You might want to call your loal psychiatric hospital and ask if they have any info. When I was in outpatient group therapy one of the therapists ran a weekly free group meeting for people who could no longer afford therapy/ whose insurance ran out. Check your me-mail.
posted by catatethebird at 8:58 PM on March 1, 2013

Best answer: From an anonymous commenter:
I once went through an episode of psychosis, as a result of major depression. It peaked the day my delusions became full-blown, and were accompanied by auditory hallucinations. As a result of those delusions, I tried to kill myself. Did a bad job of it.

I haven't suffered from depression in almost 15 years now. I am very okay and healthy. My biggest regret? I didn't go to therapy immediately after it happened. I didn't tell anyone about it.

I would've been saved myself 3 years of pain if I had. I could've told you I haven't been depressed for 18 years if I had went.

Please see a therapist immediately.
I didn't, and I'm okay. It's the biggest mistake of my life though.
posted by restless_nomad at 9:17 PM on March 1, 2013

Best answer: My gosh, these answers are just the opposite of what I was looking for.

Is this because you were kind of looking for how to get 'past it' and live with the fact that it happened? I think to do that you really need to understand what caused that, what drove you to that moment, and to have genuine compassion for yourself for getting to that place. I think because it's so frightening and serious, that understanding has to be very deep and real, and I think two days isn't enough time to get there, and you'll need help to get there.

In the meantime I think you take comfort in the knowledge that you are far from alone and that others have been there and you can have confidence that even if you don't know all the answers today, you can get there.

I hope you're feeling better really soon.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 2:24 AM on March 2, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Surgery is on my to-do list. But that whole shebang is almost definitively part of the cause.

Something about the almost dismissive way you write this, plus the fact that you seem to have asked the question in the hope that someone would tell you this incident wasn't a big deal and you should get over it, makes me wonder whether you aren't having difficulty acknowledging and validating your own feelings. It sounds like you've been going through something pretty massive over the last couple of years, something almost anyone would find incredibly stressful and emotional. Do you have someone you can just go to and cry? If you do, could you spend some more time around that person? It must have taken a great deal of strength to get yourself to where you are now, and I think you need to give yourself credit for that. Get a therapist, but don't get one thinking 'I'm broken and I need to be fixed', get one thinking 'Nobody should have to go through what I'm going through without a lot of support from loads of different directions'. And make absolutely sure your therapist is trans-friendly. I can't stress that enough.
posted by Acheman at 5:51 AM on March 2, 2013 [10 favorites]

Also, when I am being all "I simply do not understand why I can't pull myself together and be a rational person, why am I letting my feelings take over like this", I find Boggle a great antidote. To my attitude, not to the feelings.
posted by Acheman at 6:59 AM on March 2, 2013 [3 favorites]

Best answer: From your replies here, I'm thinking that you want us to tell you that you're okay and can move forward in your life without any outside help. You want to believe that you're okay. But you may have had this breakdown because you needed to do that to convince yourself that you actually are not okay, and you actually do need some outside help.

So you did convince yourself, and you got a (tiny bit) of outside help, and though it didn't magically cure everything, you might now feel better than you did three days ago. And now you're here in hopes that we will agree that this maybe was a one-off and now that it's done and gone you can forge ahead in your usual self-sufficient way.

But we're not going to tell you that. The bottom line is that you're probably not actually a ton better, and as the answers you're getting here concur, you probably can't do this on your own--you will need help from professionals. Getting through mental health challenges is a LONG process, full of steps forward and backward, and you need to have support and guidance on a routine basis, NOT just when you fall backwards so far that you have a breakdown.

I can tell you're a very functional person. Just make getting routine therapy something that you are doing as part of your vision of yourself as a responsible person who takes care of things, including yourself.
posted by gubenuj at 9:46 AM on March 2, 2013 [1 favorite]

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