I have stumbled upon a mental crisis. I’m talking deep, dark place, code red, talk me off the ledge crisis. Thankfully, I didn’t do anything destructive or harmful, aside from some yelling. What pulled me back down to earth a little from my downward spiral was the thought that if someone else were in this crisis, I’m sure I’d piece together some solid advice to at least help them de-escalate. I figured I should do the same for myself.
This is a guide for a time of crisis, when you feel overwhelmed or pushed to your limit, where you think you might break something, hurt yourself, or just scream and cry and wish for the cold, eternal embrace of death.
How to Deal with a Mental Crisis
- Seriously, just cry a lot when you need to. Let it out.
- Embrace any and all emotions, like a wave washing over you. Don’t hide from them or repress them. In fact, listen to music that enhances this feeling. Angry music, melancholy music, whatever underscores that emotion.
- Can’t solve your problem immediately? Drink a lot of water. Like chug a bunch. Yay, you’ve accomplished one good thing!
- Speaking of water, splashing your face with cold tap water is very effective at helping you reset your emotions temporarily. There’s something about the shock of cold water that just recalibrates your brain. It’s science.
- Reach out to someone, if you can. Maybe you don’t have a ton of close friends, like me, and you feel awkward reaching out to someone and saying “hey, I’m struggling. Can I talk to you about this?” If it’s too uncomfortable and you don’t feel like you can do it with your current friend group, there are plenty of internet strangers willing to lend a helping hand (or a listening ear). There are free chat sites available out there for talking about this sort of thing, but I’ve always found the mental health community on Tumblr to be very supportive and willing to talk to complete strangers. There are also some great specialized subreddits on Reddit and support groups on Facebook that are for specific mental illnesses. I’ve found each of those communities to also be supportive.
- Distract yourself. Right now, you don’t need to have it all figured out. You need to relax and take your mind off it. Your mind and your body will be better off if you can decompress for a bit and then revisit it. You can’t solve anything when you’re tense, frustrated, overwhelmed, or on the brink of a nervous breakdown.
For me, distraction isn’t just mindless scrolling of social media on my phone. At least, that’s not positive distraction. I like to completely immerse myself in a hobby or interest, like writing or video games. I also distract myself easily by learning new things (watching a documentary or reading an article), looking up classes for things that I am interested in, even if I have no intention of going, or just playing around on vocabulary.com or Duolingo. Another good distraction is diving into some big, unpleasant task that I’ve been putting off, like cleaning out my dresser drawers or my closet (usually involves some deep cleaning, for me). Probably the best and greatest distraction though is watching something that makes me laugh. I love vine compilations especially, but a good comedy special is great, too, or an episode of my favorite show.
- Finally, when you’ve done all these things, try to get some sleep. Throw on a podcast or ASMR video, if you need help. Take 3mg of Melatonin, or half of that, if you’re inclined to use sleep remedies. You can see things with a fresh perspective tomorrow. It’s that simple. There’s a reason that the phrase “sleep on it” became so popular. The brain can reorganize all the thoughts and information it received throughout the day. Maybe it all can’t be solved with sleep, but it definitely will help.
I hope you get through your crisis and feel a little better. I hope we all do.