You get pulled in 100 different directions at once, between work, family, friends, you're jumping over life's hurdles, you're trying to make ends meet, do the groceries, fold laundry, answer the 10 emails that came in late after you've already left the office.
You keep running in circles, around and around and around and around and....
You fall down. Hard.
You've burnt yourself out. You're sick, you're run down, you're physically, mentally and emotionally unable to do ANYTHING else.
Guess what? You're not alone.
Studies have shown that at least once a year, each and every one of us has that moment, where our bodies just say "hey now, I can't keep going at warp speed". Then we have what is known as a "nervous breakdown".
A breakdown will vary from person to person, and mean different things to each of us. Some people may experience severe breakdowns, while others just may need a day to recoup.
Take "Jamie" for example.
Jamie is 38 years old. He works for a retail store that he loves, and does very well with customer service. Today he's learned that he's been promoted to Store Manager, which includes new responsibilities, like opening & closing, balancing cash, doing deposits, scheduling employees, holding staff meetings, and on top of all of this, he is expected to meet a higher sales quota. Oh and they're planning a store invite only party that Jamie's boss wants him to take on. Jamie's grateful for the opportunity, but notices he's a bit more fatigued and has a lingering headache.
Jamie also has a family - his partner of 10 years, and their 2 children. Jamie's partner, we'll call him Henry, and the kids have a surprise waiting when Jamie gets home from work - a puppy! A sweet, 8 week old puppy. Jamie & Henry had discussed waiting until their children were a bit older and more responsible, but he falls in love with the little puppy. He feels a bit overwhelmed with having two young kids and a puppy, but he figures it will be okay, especially since Henry is a stay-at-home Dad and can train the puppy. He shakes off the feelings of doubt as just being nervous.
Jamie & family sit down for dinner, and learn that their eldest daughter has a project due for school...tomorrow. Clear the table, work with the kids to get the project and other homework done. Jamie's head starts to ache a bit more, so he takes an Advil.
Henry is paying some bills, and sighs, and says to Jamie "I got the quote for the water heater today, and it's going to be about $1000." Jamie calculates how much he'll have to sell at work to meet his commission to offset the cost, and oh wait, there's the family vacation they wanted to take the kids on when school let out for the summer. Henry takes little puppy out for a walk while Jamie looks over the numbers, while his head continues to ache. He's also noticing his eyes are strained. Maybe he's catching a cold.
Jamie ponders all of this as he tucks his kids into bed, and he and Henry start the housecleaning - laundry, bathrooms, dishes, tend to the gardens.
As Jamie settles into bed for the night, he starts feeling heavy in the chest, like someone is sitting on top of him. He didn't even have the strength to shower tonight. Then one by one, as if he somehow summoned them, the children and the puppy all need his attention. Jamie's headache is now a full blown migrane and he doesn't think he'll be able to work tomorrow.
Jamie's family all fall asleep, puppy included, for the night, while Jamie struggles to fall asleep, tossing & turning, fighting against the heavy feeling & migrane. He just can't seem to shake these feelings he's having.
Jamie's next day starts off even worse. He wakes up feeling like he's going to cry, and he can't figure out why.
Do parts of Jamie's story sound familiar to you? This is a completely fabricated story that I just made up on the spot. However made up it is though, this is easily comparable to many people in how a breakdown can begin.
What's disturbing is, many of us don't recognize the signs of a nervous breakdown coming, until it hits us full speed.
If you're experiencing signs of a breakdown, please take the time to assess yourself. You only have one "You" and you need to take of yourself as well.
How do you ensure that you don't have a nervous breakdown? Every person is different, but here are some key ways to help avoid a breakdown
- Exercise & eat well
- Get plenty of sleep
- Learn to say no, if you can't handle any additional responsibilities
- Delegate tasks - employees & family members alike
- Use a "To-Do" list & cross things off one by one
- Talk to your doctor if you're having troubles with sleeping, eating, or are concerned for your mental well-being
- TALK. This is one of the best things you can do for yourself. Talk about how you are feeling, what you are experiencing, and know that you aren't alone, just as "Jamie" has shown us above.
Finally, know that our volunteers are always here, 24/7, if you need someone to talk to who is unbiased and non-judgmental. 613-238-3311. Call us anytime.
Life isn't always easy, but it can get easier, starting with a call to the Distress Centre of Ottawa & Region.