Community Contributions: Crisis

Warning and Apology: No question that having been swamped and traveling have taken their toll on the forum. For that I apologize. In an attempt to get as many topics out there at once, I also apologize that the next few will lack accompanying images.

There is a sense of crisis in the air. My own life is in a state of disrepair, the details of which are not currently MI-related but may be partially or tangentially caused by such issues and definitely have major MI-related ramifications. Further, a member of this forum has been wiped from the online map for reasons unknown to me (does anyone know what happened or how jt — aka bipolartude — is doing?) and another is currently hospitalized.

The questions I’d like to post now surround moments of crisis. How do you deal? What are your go-to coping mechanisms? To what extent do you rely on your medical care providers? To what extent do you rely on your personal support systems? To what extent do you feel able to rely on yourself?

Regarding the nature of such crises, I acknowledge that I’ve been intentionally vague. I am not specifying a difference between psychiatric crises and general life crises. This is partially because I am not convinced they are hugely different. While they are surely different in content and surely different in manifestation, I suspect the truth is that they share a great deal of overlap: the stress included, the stress induced, the often felt inability to control a situation, the sometimes felt need to ride it out, those on whom we rely for support…the list goes on. That’s, at least, my suspicion. So, last questions: Is there a difference between general life crises and mental health-related crises? What might that difference be? Does that difference affect how you cope?

Further, I think these questions may also directly involve a few sent to me by forum member Meredith a while back. She asks,

How do you take care of yourself, especially when you can see the future closing in on you with triggers galore? Do you take care of yourself? How often do you take care of yourself? Do you put it off? Do you just take care of yourself short-term or do you make moves to do it long-term (like exercising regularly)?

  1. Glad to hear from you again, Backward E! I had been away a lot lately too, not physically all the time, but away from the blogosphere, and I apologize for not being more active here lately. I did take two trips, one not so far from home, and one on a plane, and got admitted to a university and have been trying to jump through a lot of hoops to start there in the fall. Anyway, I’m glad you’re back here, and I’m glad to see a new post.

    When a crisis comes, I do rely on myself to notice that it’s coming, and to handle it. I cannot expect that anybody will do this for me. I have to rely on myself. If it’s a mental health crisis, hopefully I notice the symptoms early enough to contact my treatment providers and get extra help with medication and/or therapy. Although, currently, I have no therapist.

    I also call a close friend and talk to her about things. For family alcohol problems, I have used the support group Alanon for crises in the past (and my do so again in the future though I am not really into doing the whole twelve step thing that much). I always let my case manager, who I am lucky to have, know what’s going on. When I had a therapist, I would let her know too. I see my doctor extra times, if needed. I ask for changes in medication, if needed. Mostly, I repeat to myself that old mantra, “This too shall pass”. And, I rely on my blog, to give me a safe place to vent, where people often leave helpful comments.

    I try to remember the big picture, and not give in to that “it’s the end of the world” thought process which can have really bad effects if I let it take over. If I feel suicidal, I will check myself into a hospital. And that is to keep myself alive. I don’t find hospitals helpful for much other than that. But I do find that they can keep you alive if you are suicidal.

    At times, I have needed to call suicide hotlines, or other hotlines, depending on the crisis. I do what I can to survive, basically, so that involves reaching out for help for me.

    I tend to be able to avoid most crises now, but sometimes things that are stressful really overwhelm me, and cause me to freak out mentally. I try to deal with this the best I can, and not revert to any old behaviors. When I was younger, I would starve or cut or try to kill myself in a crisis. I haven’t exhibited those behaviors in ears, and I know how to cope better now. I think part of this came with getting medications that work for me, and part of it came with growing older, and growing up.

    I’m not sure if i’ve answered all your questions, but this and always making sure I get enough sleep if possible, are the ways I deal with crises.

  2. oh and “ears” was supposed to read “years”!

  3. I didn’t answer this question: “Is there a difference between general life crises and mental health-related crises? What might that difference be? Does that difference affect how you cope?”
    I do think there is a difference. A mental health crisis can come upon me at any time, anywhere, no matter what is going on in my life, and it will immediately affect me, but nobody else. I get affected by delusions, hallucinations, and paranoia, so these things are different from the kind of crisis that just affects your checkbook or your social life. Because a real mental health crisis can threaten my life. And it is something I MUST watch out for, regularly, in order to catch the early signs. To some extent, I am always on guard for this.

    A regular life crisis can lead to a mental health crisis, depending on how stressful it is. And that will worsen the entire situation, if both happen at the same time, of course. I think a life crisis is something that the general public can relate to more than they can relate to a crisis like psychosis taking over your brain, so you can talk to more people about what is going on, like someone in your family being an alcoholic, for example. I find that mental health crises are not things that you can get as much advice on from others, unless they understand mental illness. But in some respects, either type of crisis requires the same self-care and the same reliance on support systems to get through it.

    • said:

      I think that last sentence is exactly what I was getting at in that line of questioning: that “either type of crisis requires the same self-care and the same reliance on support systems to get through it.” And in that way, despite the causes and manifestations of the crises being so very different, the “how to get through it” parts are very similar.

      To be honest, I asked these questions because on one hand one of our forum members is going through a pretty heinous mental health crisis (next post) and on the other hand I am going through a pretty heinous general life crisis right now. Honestly, these were caused by similar circumstances, but I’m (very luckily) in a more solid place (mental health wise) right now and have been able to keep the MI stuff at bay during this time. Still, the methods of dealing and coping have been strikingly similar.

      Thanks, as always, for your insight and sharing. It’s good to be back.

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