What my emotional breakdowns feel like.

This post is going to be difficult to write. I am unsure of my ability to be able to describe my anxiety, depression, or breakdowns efficiently. However, that won’t stop me from trying.

Last weekend, I went through my last big emotional breakdown. As soon as I “came down” or “came out” of that emotional state enough to function somewhat normally, I decided reflecting on my most recent experience would be a good idea.

WHY THEY HAPPEN TO ME

My therapist describes it like this. Life events are like a series of waves. Emotionally, we go up and down depending on the circumstances. For example: the crest of a wave might be an awesome concert or a night out with a friend. The next day you might get a flat tire in your car, so your mood dips a bit. While you wait for your car to be fixed maybe you go see a movie, so you start to climb the wave again. The point is, as things happen, it is beneficial to deal with things one by one as they come.

Here’s the problem I have: I push as much “down” or “away” as I can. I don’t like dealing with my emotions because they tend to be overwhelming. When things come up that give me anxiety, I immediately go to distract myself instead of dealing with the issue at hand. Because of this, the waves hit a brick wall. What happens to waves when they hit walls? They recede but then come back with even more force. There is only so many times you can push the waves back before they crash over the wall all at once. That’s when emotional breakdowns happen.

HOW THEY FEEL

If I had to describe an emotional breakdown in one word it would be overwhelming. My brain swims to the extent that I almost feel dizzy. I have a million thoughts in my head but yet I can’t pinpoint any of them specifically. I think about absolutely everything all at once that gets me anxious or upset; I think of one thing after another, increasing my anxiety by the second. I have all of this pent up emotion that I had been trying to desperately to push down that it feels like I am yelling inside my chest. I always think it would help if I could just scream at the top of my lungs during a breakdown, but I simply don’t have the energy to. I also begin to cry (which I try so hard to never do) and have a hard time controlling it.

In the midst of an emotional breakdown, I also experience an extreme anxiety attack. I have a huge tightness in my chest which makes it difficult to breathe normally (which in turn makes my breathing even more labored, out of panic). My veins feel like they are buzzing with electricity, so much so that I sometimes tremble. Aside from all of the thoughts racing around my head, my depression kicks in and convinces me that none of this is worth it and I should just think about finding a way out (if you know what I mean).

During a breakdown I am fully aware of all of the things that are making me anxious but I truly feel a sense of hopelessness; that life is absolutely impossible to handle. I see no way out, even regarding the smallest of my problems. I want to reach out for help but yet my brain is telling me to isolate and not bother anybody; I should be able to handle things myself and if I can’t, that’s my cross to bear. Shame overwhelms me because it feels like I am unable to deal with daily life.

The extent to which I feel all of these symptoms is nearly unbearable; I know reading this it doesn’t seem like emotional breakdowns are that big of a deal. But I assure you, they are.

HOW I COPE

This last time, I called my mom right in the midst of it. She let me cry and express how I felt and after awhile, I stopped crying. My breathing went back to normal and I was able to look at all of my problems and emotions with a clearer mind. Most of the time I just try to go lay down in hopes that I feel better after some sleep. At times my anxiety is so high that I can’t sleep, though. Sometimes I turn to pointless TV (hi Judge Judy and Live PD) or a video game. But I would advocate for reaching out to someone you love and trust. Keeping it all inside your head really isn’t a safe thing to do. There is at least ONE person in your life that you can trust enough to turn to in times like this. Trust me, they’re willing to listen.

WHY I POSTED THIS

To serve as a reminder to me and to everyone going through an anxiety attack/emotional breakdown that it IS a temporary situation despite it truly feeling helpless at the time. Also to reassure myself as well as all of my readers that there is someone out there who loves you and wants to be there for you when you hurt. Utilize them. Isolation, as tempting as it is when you’re depressed or anxious, is never a good idea. xo

31 Comments

  1. carpe diem Eire

    My wife suffers from the same problems so this is very close to me. You have the same symptoms, the same thoughts, and I know how difficult it is for you. I’ve learned the ticks now and I’m able to talk her out of the dark thoughts. With time they thankfully have subsided a little, but it’s always looking to break through a crack. How long have you had this?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. whereweofftonow

    A brilliant post,I find it difficult to comment on such posts and people take things differently. I suspect people reading this might be thinking, that is exactly the same as me and your ways of dealing with it might help others. Always hard to write about these things, but well done!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. alisonw30

    Anxiety is the pits, I can definitely identify. I’m so glad you have someone to reach out to, that’s so important. I’m sure lots of people will find this post helpful, to know they aren’t alone.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. psdontreadthis

    I have anxiety and panic attacks too. I try to breathe in order to relax. I’ve also tried concentrating on things around me and saying in my mind what I see. I think that it helps a bit. But most of the time, I try to ignore it and not think about it as it happens and after a while, it goes away.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Lindsey

      Breathing is HUGE. Also it does help; its a DBT Skill called “observe/describe”. I do it too! Ignoring only works for me for so long and then it comes back worse, but I’m glad that works for you!

      Like

  5. arteriarichardson

    I admire you for this post. I love how you explain how anxiety works and I also like that you explain how you feel during your attacks. Mental health is something that is taken for granted. A lot of people are unaware of how anxiety attacks make you feel. People just assume you’re being dramatic or you just want attention , but that’s not the case. I’m glad you shared this and I’m glad you are finding ways to have more control over your anxiety. You’re stronger than you know. Great post.

    Like

  6. arteriarichardson

    I like how you described how aniexty attacks make you feel . I also like the fact that you describe how they happen. That is important because a lot of people do not understand what that feeling is like. Sometimes people think that people who have mental health issues are being dramatic or they just want attention. But that is not the case. I’m glad you clear up the stigmas that are associated with anxiety. I’m also glad that you are finding ways to cope better with your anxiety. You are stronger than you know. Great post.

    Liked by 1 person

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