What's Hardest in the Aftermath of a Mental Health Crisis
One of the strangest things about having a serious mental crisis is how you feel afterwards. You existed for however long you have existed in this world. You’ve formed all sorts of coping strategies to deal with life, and even if you were an ordinarily functioning human being before you “snapped,” nothing is ever the same. You are never the same.
If you’re one of the lucky ones, your life will become an endless stream of doctors’ offices, psychiatrists’ receptionists, care plans, pharmacies, crisis calls and therapists. And that’s just to make you feel like you’re stable enough to get you through the coming days, months and years. But those aren’t the worst parts. They’re just the people employed to try to convince you to carry on existing when every fiber of your being is telling you not to.
This is the worst part. Everyday life.
Imagine, if you can, how frustrating it is to know that once upon a time you were “normal.” That you could experience everyday life without wondering if today is the day you break again. Without thinking about how overwhelmed you feel doing things you used to do. How simple daily stress now seems amplified because you’re so emotionally raw. No matter how imperfect things used to be, you were able to deal with it. Back then you likely never huddled in the bathtub and cried uncontrollably, fighting off the terrible voices your mind produces to tell you how worthless, meaningless and pointless your life is. How hopeless everything seems.
How sometimes waking up in the morning is hell, not just because you have to face the day, but because you’re hungover from the medication you’re on. How showering often seems like far too much trouble than it’s worth. How brushing your teeth has to be planned into your daily routine otherwise it gets skipped. How meal times are often forgotten because everything seems so pointless. Or how you now snack throughout the day instead of having a regular set pattern of meals as your medications make you constantly hungry.
That knife in your back is remembering the person you were before the crisis. You remember her and you’re so frustrated because she seems to be gone. And no matter how stable you feel, you’re always aware of the fact that something like that could happen again. You’re so afraid of having to start all over again.
As time goes on though, and you manage to keep your grip on the tiny ledge society calls sanity, it becomes harder and harder to remember what its like to be “normal” and not a “patient under services.” To not normalize popping pills every night to stop your brain from revolting. Remembering that going to therapy sessions twice a week isn’t something that’s considered the norm. That having a psychiatrist, a crisis team, a therapist and a community mental health team involved in your care isn’t what people go through every day.
You wonder if you’ll ever be the person you used to be.
And you begin to realize that maybe she’s gone forever.
But who’s to say this person you are now — this person who knows you have problems, is getting treatment for them, is engaging with the therapeutic program and can now (even sometimes) realize when your behavior is disordered — is a bad trade for who you used to be?
Your life may not ever be the same again.
But at least you still have one.
If you or someone you know needs help, please visit the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. You can also reach the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741-741. Head here for a list of crisis centers around the world.
The Crisis Text Line is looking for volunteers! If you’re interesting in becoming a Crisis Counselor, you can learn more information here.