The signs and symptoms of your ‘nervous breakdown’ are an indication that you have reached your limit, not that you’re going mad! You’re just at breaking point – completely ‘stressed out’ and at the ‘end of your tether’.
There’s a limit to us all and there’s a limit to how much you can cope with too. Maybe life has just thrown too much at you, and/or your resources – internal and/or external – have become depleted. You can no longer deal with all that stress and you feel you’re falling apart.
I hope to help you make sense of what is happening to you or someone you care about.
You may feel you’re ‘going crazy’ right now, but you will recover. The symptoms of a burnout will disappear and you’ll no longer carry the signs that you can’t cope anymore. It just won’t happen overnight.
Maybe you’ve heard about someone “having a nervous breakdown” and you’ve asked yourself: what is it? So, let me explain…
First of all – the terms I have used so far to describe what you’re going through would not normally be used by a professional.
I have used them here, because I know that thousands of people a month are searching for it. I just want to be sure that I reach everyone who is worried about themselves or someone they love.
You too may suspect that you or someone else is suffering from ‘shattered nerves’ (yet another description) and don’t know what to think or do.
This kind of disorder (don’t let that word worry you either) can all start with the following symptoms over time or they can catch you out completely unexpectedly (though they would have been ‘lurking’ for some time and I think you know that!):
10 Common physical nervous breakdown symptoms
- Irregular heart beat – you can feel your heart pounding. You may think you’re gravely ill, yet tests are unlikely to be convincing.
- Tensed/painful muscles
- Clammy hands, sweating
- Dizziness or light-headedness
- Trembling or shaking – you may feel these are the most embarrassing symptoms of a nervous breakdown as you worry people may notice
- Upset stomach and bowel problems – your body/mind reacts as if your life is in danger and digestion is secondary to survival
- Exhaustion – all your energy is being used trying to manage/cope with this crisis
- Pains – ‘unexplained’ ones
- Coughs and colds – you seem to be catching every bug that’s floating around
- Tension headaches
10 Mental symptoms that make you think you’re going mad
- Anxiety about every day things
- Panic and phobias
- Inability to cope with stuff you wouldn’t have thought about twice before
- Loss of libido – you feel ‘dead below the waist’!
- Impotence – and a sense of shame about that to boot
- Sleep problems – not being able to fall asleep, frequently waking up and not being able to go back to sleep with racing thoughts
- Withdrawal from loved ones – my clients describe it sometimes as ‘living in a bubble’
- Irritability and angry outbursts – you have no spare capacity
- Difficulty concentrating – you probably can’t even read a page in a book, or even keep your mind on the headlines in a newspaper
- Depression – this is almost a ‘given’, when your life seems to be ‘unraveling’ (See my pages on depression – links further down.)
5 Typical emotional problems with a mental meltdown
- Crying easily, and seemingly endlessly, at the drop of a hat – whether you’re male or female! No need to be embarrassed.
- Feeling guilty for all kinds of reasons: ‘not pulling your weight’, not being there for someone else, not being your ‘normal’ self, etc
- Feeling alone – you’re embarrassed and don’t want to bother with anyone. You don’t even recognise yourself.
- Feeling joyless – increasingly withdrawing from all the things you would normally enjoy – no wonder with all those symptoms!
- Being/feeling ‘paranoid’ – feeling that people are out to get you and single you out for every scrap of negativity.
I’m aiming above all to reassure you. At the end of the day, you have to understand what exactly a nervous breakdown is. You also need to discover how all that stress led to your no longer feeling able to cope and what to do to get over it.
Extracts from an article by Ellie Prior, which originally appeared on Professional Counselling.com – The Netherlands.
Posted by Sinta Ebersohn (Creator of fairdivorce.co.za – Stellenbosch)