It is inevitable feeling down sometimes. When I say feeling down, I mean feeling very sad, quite angry, highly stressed, pretty frustrated, extremely anxious, or a combination of some, or all, of these sentiments.
I’m going to explain what I do to deal with emotional breakdowns. My method may or may not help you. But it is useful for me, and I just want to share it with you all, because it may practical for you:
Step 1) Understanding feeling down is normal: I never get worried about feeling sad, angry, stressed, frustrated, and/or anxious. I’m aware of the fact that negative sensations are part of life, as much as positive sensations. Some people have more negatives, others have more positives. Therefore, I understand there is nothing wrong on feeling down now and then. It is normal, because life is a rollercoaster and it isn’t perfect.Obviously, if I had an emotional breakdown constantly, such as long-term depression or severe anxiety triggers, I would seek medical help. Clinical depression is actually a medical condition which can be treated. Anxiety disorder is also a medical condition which can be treated. I always keep in mind, that if my emotional breakdown reached limits such as self-harm, eating disorders, suicidal thoughts; I would imminently seek help before hurting myself. However, I have never reached these limits.
In addition, I never punish myself for having an emotional breakdown. By punish, I mean thinking stuff like “I’m here hating or being depressed about my life when people are dying on Syria due to the war there. What an ungrateful person I am!” This type of statements are only applicable for situations in which I act like an spoiled girl and fume about “not having internet on my mobile”, “lacking of presents on my birthday”, and/or “crying over my brother stealing my snacks”. But when I feel down, it is due to serious situation; it is when I can’t help feeling that negative sensation.
Some people have easier lives, others have more difficult lives. Nevertheless everyone has problems. Having a medium-income family won’t make losing a friend less painful. Having clean water to drink won’t make a struggle to socialise less real. Having money to buy clothes won’t make parent’s fights less upsetting. I know there are people in much worse situations than me, and I’m grateful about not being on their shoes. Even though, that doesn’t make my serious problems any better, and my distress is still there.
Step 2) Figuring out why I’m having negative vibrations: There must be a reason why I’m feeling sad, angry, stressed, frustrated, and/or anxious. Identifying it is the best way to think about a solution. I usually know why I’m in a bad mood. In most cases, it is due to family problems, socialising efforts, losing weight difficulties, and self-confidence issues. I could say that I have negative vibrations about situations in which I don’t have physical or/and mental control enough. Feeling down is always triggered by something such as a person, or situation; unless you suffer from a disorder or a mental health condition such as anxiety or bipolarity. In any case, it is really important for me to figure out the exact cause of my emotional breakdown.
Step 3) Talking to someone who I trust and who will understand me: Whenever I’m feeling down, I always find someone to talk to. In a way or another, there is always someone available who will listen with empathy to my situation.
For instance, if I’m angry about a family problem, I often rant with my brother about it. Unless he is the problem, of course.
On the other hand, I often find myself messaging my far away friends about socialising efforts and self-confidence issues I experience in England. But I don’t message any friend; I message friends who are going through similar situations, who actually understand how I feel, and who won’t discuss what I told them with anyone else. Talking to someone really helps. You can rant about the topic, explain your feelings about it, seek for advice, and be comprehended. It is a way of letting all out. And it helps me to calm down and relief negative sensations. It really does. In the rare occasion in which I can’t contact anyone, I go directly to step 4.
Step 4) Reflecting about the motive of my emotional breakdown: As a general rule, I make myself certain questions about the reason why I’m feeling down. I consider in depth what/who made my mood bad. Is this person/action a cause strong enough to waste my time? Is it worth it falling out? With these questions, it comes other typical ones: is there any way in which I can improve the situation? Do I have power over the actions that have led to my sadness, anger, stress, frustration, and/or anxiety? It is awkward how most of the times I realise falling out is not worth it all. The person who made me feel bad isn’t even affected. Or/and the action can’t be changed.
Sometimes I have control over the subject, like when I have socialising insecurities. I encourage myself thinking tomorrow is a new day and I can try talking to people again. Or, when I contemplate about giving up on my weight loss plan. I remember how good it will be weighting myself one day and thinking “wow, I’m not overweight anymore!”.
Other times, I don’t have control over the subject, like in most family arguments. I realise the problem is not mine, but of my parents, or my aunt, or other relatives. For example, when my mother and my father are having arguments about legal inconveniences, it is not my dilemma; but it affects me. However, I end acknowledging the fact I don’t have the power enough to change things. It is not losing against a problem; it is being realistic.
Or another example is when I miss my friends and family from Spain. I end up having to accept that I won’t see them at least until summer and that I’ll have to wait till then.
Reflecting about the reason of my distress is not only useful to understand it, but it also helps me to accept it. This step could also be called “accepting the motive of my emotional breakdown”, and it is the one in which I normally reduce, or eliminate, the feelings of sadness, anger, stress, frustration, and/or anxiety. This helps me to think more clearly, and create an outcome (if possible) of the problem. It is easier to think with an unperturbed mind than with a troubled mind.
Step 5) Distracting myself: This is the last step. It is all about finding something to do, to avoid thinking about the problem again. I’m never able to reach this phase before reflecting and accepting the reason of my dreadful mood. This is simply because if I don’t meditate and accommodate to the situation, I will still suffer from negative vibrations. Consequently I won’t be able to think about anything, but the problem.
I distract myself through relaxation and/or enjoyment. My relaxation techniques include sleeping/taking a nap, giving a walk, listening to music, watching TV and reading. My enjoyment techniques include playing basketball/ doing exercise, writing a song, writing any of my novels, blogging, and talking to/hanging out with my friends. I would say my most effective way of relaxing is lying on my bed and listening to music peacefully. I have a determined playlist of songs that improve my mood, either due to the melody or due to the lyrics. In contrast, my most effective way of enjoying myself is playing basketball. I love practising this sport, and it makes me focus on putting effort on the game, rather than on life problems.
This fifth step is not essential for me to reduce the feelings of sadness, anger, stress, frustration, and/or anxiety; when I reach this step, I’m looking forward to forget the motive of my distress. However, sometimes I don’t need to distract myself. For instance, if I’m feeling bad due to an argument with a friend, solving the argument with that friend is an easier way of feeling better. This step is useful for contexts in which there isn’t any viable solution, I don’t have power over the event, the situation is senseless, or dealing with the crisis requires time.
These are the five steps I follow to overcome an emotional breakdown. They always work out. If not, I would be on a rehabilitation centre or in a madhouse right now.
I would like to say, whenever I have felt down, I have never thought about turning to bad habits such as excessive smoking, drugs, or getting drunk. I don’t have anything against people who smoke, but I hate it. The fact that it causes millions of preventable deaths every year is a reason enough to avoid it. I know a lot of people are like “I’m young I can quit smoking at some point.” But quitting smoking is not easy, and the harm can’t be repaired.
I wouldn’t try other drugs mainly because they are illegal, they are expensive, and I wouldn’t even know where to get them. I don’t move in those sorts of social circles. I avoid them. Besides, I have seen people’s lives ruined by drugs, and I don’t want that for me. For a lot of people, consuming drugs is “fun” and a good way of “relaxing”. I see their point, yet I prefer to try another healthy ways of having fun and relaxing.
And I’m not going to say I have never drunken alcohol; I have. But I have never been drunk. I don’t think getting drunk is a way of socialising, but I know a lot of people believe so. The thing is, I despise not having control over situations. So imagine getting drunk, and not having control over my own body and mind. It would be a disaster to be honest. However, I have nothing against drinking alcohol. It is fine, as long as you control yourself and it doesn’t become a dependency.
Another negative habits people tend to do when having an emotional breakdown, is self-harming and suicide attempts. I have never done them, nor they are in my plans. However, I don’t blame people for doing them. It is the same with smoking, getting drunk and consuming drugs; the pressure you may be suffering can make you turn to awful things that give your momentary pleasure, or seem like good outcomes in that moment.
Sometimes, enough is enough. Your mind goes weak. Your body goes weak. But in some way, I have always been determined enough to say no to these things. I always remind myself these bad habits are not the solution of my problems; they are the beginning of new ones. I kick them away from my mind. I think about all my dreams and aspirations, and how I won’t be able to perform them if I’m a drug addict, an alcoholic, or much worse; I’m dead. Also, I think about people who love me, and how much they would suffer if I had an addiction that is harming me, or if I died.
On conclusion, we all feel down at least one time in our life. In most cases, it is more than one time. My recommendations to overcome an emotional breakdown are easy to follow: understanding feeling down is normal, figuring out why you are having negative vibrations, talking to someone you trust and who will understand you (if possible), reflecting about the motive of the emotional breakdown, solving the problem (if possible), and distracting yourself (if needed).
In addition, I try to be strong, and say no to smoking, drugs, self-harm, suicide, and high alcohol consumption. These lifestyle choices have the power enough to ruin your life and most of your opportunities; they can even wreck your relationships and spoil dreams. If you ever feel like you can’t cope alone anymore, talk with your parents or with an adult your trust such as your teacher, or your doctor. Charities and local authorities (social services) can also be helpful if there is no one on your social circles that can help you. Remember; you are not alone. Never.
Hugs and love,
Emilie H. Featherington ❤