Social Question

JLeslie's avatar

Did you have to have a nervous breakdown before you made a major change in your life ~?

Asked by JLeslie (47553 points ) November 27th, 2012

Kind of half joking half serious. If you have made a major change, major career change, move to anew city, go back to school, divorce, have children late in life, whatever might have been a big change from your orginal plan or the main path you had been on, did you first go through some really tough emotional times to finally get to the point that you were ready for the change? I don’t necessarily mean you were miserable in your life, but that might have been the case. It also could be that your fear to make the change was very emotional for you, or the realization you wanted something more or different was very emotional, or something else.

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39 Answers

bookish1's avatar

Well, I’ve been pondering making major changes and feel like a nervous breakdown might be warranted… But none so far.

I’ve been told by reliable sources that I was remarkably sane and reasonable when I realized I had to begin social and medical transition!

janbb's avatar

Never had a nervouse breakdown but I have had some very painful times before making a major change – quitting the family business – and after a major change was imposed on me – having my husband leave me.

zenvelo's avatar

I was bewildered for a couple years before I decided to leave my marriage.

My ex had a lot of physical health problems that were exacerbated by mental health problems. I come from a family background that meant that once married one stayed no matter how bad it got. But the emotional and mental abuse from my ex were way beyond anything I had ever envisioned. I took it because of the values I was raised with.

I finally went to therapy because I needed to talk to someone to see if I was wrong to complain or if I needed to do something to change my situation. Through therapy I learned to set boundaries that got me to leave an abusive situation.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Quite out of myself before major changes…but that was to protect me and make me strong enough to follow through. Yes, I can look back and it’s almost like someone else was doing it all.

KNOWITALL's avatar

Absolutely. Sometimes you have to break down to build back up.

Dsg's avatar

I had a couple years of difficulty until I became strong enough to ask for a divorce. I cried a lot and got it out of my system that way. My ex was very abusive…mainly mental abuse but some physical. I did a lot of soul searching, praying, talking to some people in confidence and seeing a therapist. I was tired of being treated like crap and feeling like it. I have 2 young children that I didn’t feel should live in that situation either. Its very hard to leave something you are comfortable with, even though its painful or difficult. The last 2 yrs I have gone through so much, its actually amazing when I think about it. I am divorced, single, unemployed and about a yr ago moved to a place of my own with my children. Sometimes I still wanna give up, but I can’t! I am a fighter and I will survive! I know that my higher power (God) won’t let me down and he keeps me strong.

“The only way around is through.”
~ Robert Frost

“There are two primary choices in life: to accept conditions as they exist,
or accept the responsibility for changing them.”
~ Dr. Denis Waitley

“Your life is filled with possibility.
Reach high, look forward and never give up.
The world is waiting for you.”
~ Marian Wright Edelman

tedd's avatar

In my experience once you’re over the actual hump and have done/made the major change, it’s actually not that hard to cope with.

Things are obviously markedly different in your life, but the fear or adverse feelings dissipate rather quickly. Be it a new job, moving, breaking up, whatever.

ZEPHYRA's avatar

Yes, I reached the edge and may have even started falling over before I yanked
myself up again!

Shippy's avatar

I think we only change things when it gets really uncomfortable. If things are comfortable for us why change? So I would say yes, yes and more yes.

JLeslie's avatar

@Shippy I think some people are more ambitious than others and pursue change and challenge. Comfortable for them is boring maybe?

picante's avatar

I’ve never had a true nervous breakdown, but I tend to prolong my own agony quite a bit before changing course. I’m innately a “fixer;” I probably err on the side of staying the course for much longer than is prudent. On the other hand, I’m quite open and excited about the idea of changing almost anything. I’m a walking contradiction!

DigitalBlue's avatar

Had a nervous breakdown and never recovered. Not that I don’t think I ever will, it’s just been a really slow process. It definitely lead to changes, though.

Mariah's avatar

Yeah, basically. I was so miserable in my first term of college, cried every morning, the whole shebang. Every day was a struggle. Yet I knew I wanted to be there, and I knew that what I needed to fix everything was a big change in my health, and I knew the only option for a big change I had left was surgery.

glacial's avatar

No. I’ve made major career and relationship changes (separately) without having a nervous breakdown first. But I imagine that having a nervous breakdown would be a great reason to make those kinds of changes. I guess the goal is to decide that change is needed before reaching the point of a breakdown? Not sure what makes the difference.

@KNOWITALL Your response reminds me of techniques used by the army or by cults to change people’s thought processes… I’m not sure that’s the best way to go through life!

KNOWITALL's avatar

@glacial Yes, maybe it sounded wrong…I would have said it sounds more military, but whatevs.

I have left an abusive man, and I also left my lover after many years together, so my statement meant that sometimes you are breaking down inside & out, and to get better you may have to make a major change. It’s scary, but sometimes it’s necessary.

downtide's avatar

I was very close to a breakdown before I came out as transgendered to my partner, and began the transition process. I think I probably would have had a meltdown if I’d put it off another month.

PurpleClouds's avatar

No. I made a change before that happened.

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

In all seriousness, I have experienced a nervous breakdown. It’s not fun.

I’ve had many changes in my life, but I count 3 as major. First would be getting sober. Next would be coming out as a gay man, and finally there’s my bipolar diagnosis. It was the last one that was preceded by a nervous breakdown. The other 2 had great difficulties prior to the change, but I wouldn’t classify them as a nervous breakdown.

glacial's avatar

@KNOWITALL Yeah, the “break it down to build it up” philosophy was/is also famously used by organizations like EST and the Scientology folks.

Coloma's avatar

Yes, I did…for 4 years before leaving my very unhappy and abusive marriage 10 years ago. I now call it my ” nervous BREAKTHROUGH” Honestly, it was the BEST thing that ever happened to me!

Jeruba's avatar

When you say nervous breakdown, what exactly do you mean? I guess I’m asking those who say they’ve had one…what happened to you?

cookieman's avatar

I’ve only known it to work that way. I’ve never had an actual, clinical, nervous breakdown, but even when I see the writing in the wall far in advance – I’m too stubborn or stupid to make the change before it all goes to hell.

Sadly, I’m a ‘go down with the ship’ or ‘burn it to the ground’ kind of guy. I don’t just end it, I often destroy it.

And only then do I look around and think, “time for a change”.

Relationships, jobs – all the same. Probably not the healthiest system, but it’s turned out okay so far.

Coloma's avatar

@Jeruba Extreme anxiety, stress, needing antidepressants, barely able to function, rage, hopelessness, fear, not knowing what to do, being gaslighted and emotionally/mentally abused by my ex. It was awful, I don’t know how I survived it. I also had an extremely stressful job at the time with a psychotic boss.
All things finally led to one complete breakdown and I actually tried to check myself into a clinic for depression but they said since I was not a danger to myself or others I could come to their day program.

Uh no..I have to work.

It is true, that which doesn’t kill us only makes us stronger. :-)
Actually I have discovered that for my ultra enthusiastic, resilient and optimistic personality that for someone with my temperament to go down like that was even worse than I was aware of at the time. My therapist told me that I was lucky I didn’t end up hospitalized. Well..I tried…they wouldn’t take me, so soldier on! lol

yankeetooter's avatar

The last major change I made in my life was to change my major in college. To answer another question posted before this one, no, I have not told everyone in my family about this decision, mainly because they were already constantly asking me about how much longer I had to go before I finished school, and I felt they wouldn’t understand my changing majors in midstream. I do have moments of panic when I think of how much more I have to go (I’m an evening student), and I constantly have to give myself a pep talk about how I know I can succeed (I have low self-confidence), but I’ve never felt like this change would bring on a nervous breakdown.

Truthfully, being worried about my mom (she has cancer) and stress from my current job is doing more to mess up my mental health than anything else I have had to go through lately…

rooeytoo's avatar

Nah I just always try to make major changes with a back door. Meaning in case the change isn’t what I thought it would be, I can do something else instead. I don’t think in terms of going back to what I left behind, instead a plan b so to speak. I get bored and am always ready for a change of scenery, etc.

Just do it, @JLeslie – otherwise you will always wonder, “what if…........”

Mariah's avatar

@Jeruba, for your question, I guess I said “basically” because I know what happened to me wasn’t as acute as a true nervous breakdown, but those two months were the most mentally unhealthy I’ve ever been. Cried every day, had panic attacks, wasn’t eating right, slept restlessly (I got so involved in my schoolwork that my brain continued to attempt to do math while I was sleeping…worst sleep quality ever, let me tell you)... one thing I remember doing that, in hindsight, now seems funny to me in a kind of dark way – I saw a car parked on campus with plates from my home state, and I was so homesick that I would repeat the license plate number to myself under my breath as some kind of weird-ass mantra. I was a mess.

linguaphile's avatar

My nervous breakdown (in bed for over 18 hours a day, for 3 weeks, crying uncontrollably, near-catatonic) was in June 2010.

So many things happened—almost like a convergence of events. My son graduated from high school, my ex/his bio dad showed up, my very polarized family showed up, my then-husband physically abused me and reacted with amusement, I found out my ex wasn’t paying rent when we were evicted from our home— that 3 weeks was my awakening towards the firm decision to get a divorce. Like @zenvelo, I had a very hard time getting to where I accepted that divorce was an option.

Worst 3 weeks, and in the long run, one of the best 3 weeks of my life.

Usually, though, after I make a big decision or go through something major, I don’t freak out until it’s all over. That can be disconcerting to some people—seeing me keep it all together through a crisis, then a puddle afterwards…. but that’s how I usually function.

augustlan's avatar

No nervous breakdown, but I suffered through an extremely rough mental time, for a long time, before I got serious about getting help for my panic attacks/depression. Once I really started to get better (on consistent medication, going through therapy, etc.) I realized major life changes (mainly, a divorce) were needed. So it’s all kind of connected.

@linguaphile In a crisis, I’m just like that. Fine and in charge while it’s happening, a total mess afterward.

JLeslie's avatar

@Jeruba I only meant the change did not happen gracefully and there was some self introspection that went on, or acceptance of a circumstance, which can be emotional. I put a ~ on my question at the end, and said in the detail “half joking half serious,” to communicate it could be anywhere along the spectrum of breakdown. When I wrote the Q I was thinking more of next steps towards a change in ones life and not a dire situation someone feels they need to get out of. But, I appreciate all the answers and how people interpreted the question has been fine.

DigitalBlue's avatar

@Jeruba it’s difficult for me to describe, I just snapped. I had felt myself wearing very thin for several months, I knew something was wrong for a long time, but it was like trying to stop an oncoming train with my bare hands. I just didn’t stand a chance. When I finally did “snap,” which is the best description (for me), it was like every filter and defense and coping mechanism that I had ever known dissolved all at once. I had no tolerance for life. Anything that happened had a strong effect on me, I was constantly crying and having meltdowns. I had no control over my emotions, I screamed at my 60 year old aunt, I fought/argued with my dying grandmother, I would burst into tears if someone so much as looked at me sideways. My OCD, which hadn’t reared its ugly head in years, spiraled completely out of control and took over my life. It was like an entire lifetime of pain and grief swelled up and burst and consumed me all at once.

Before it happened, I was productive, healthy, I worked out regularly, I ate well, I worked 50+ hours a week, took care of my kids and pets, kept my house clean, and volunteered. Afterward, I stopped driving, I stopped leaving my house, I stopped working, I pretty much lost all ability to function in the real world… and it’s taking me a long time to get back there.

janbb's avatar

@linguaphile It’s funny – in many ways I sailed through the few several months of my separation – with occasional meltdowns – but now, at the one year mark, I am finding myself fighting depression. And I feel like I should be better by now.

gailcalled's avatar

^^^I still have the Voodoo doll here, ready to ship to you. Say the word. You’d be amazed how therapeutic it is to stick a black-headed pin into an item, near the heart, that says “IRS audit.”

bkcunningham's avatar

The holidays make it worse and so do the winter months, @janbb. I personally think that just realizing that helps a little. You can’t deal with something you aren’t aware of. Right? You are still in mourning for he loss of your marriage and there is nothing wrong with that. It is a process and you are coming through just fine. Don’t allow yourself to wallow in it though. Put on a beautiful outfit and get out and find a nice holiday party or something to cheer yourself up. You deserve to be happy and you are going to be happy. Make it your morning mantra. You are going to be happy. You are going to be happy. You are going to be happy. You are happy. (((HUGS))) It is tough. But so are you, old bird! ;~)

janbb's avatar

@bkcunningham You are right and Hurricane Sandy didn’t help anything either. But, as you say, I am a tough old bird.

bkcunningham's avatar

Yes, @janbb. How could I have forgotten Sandy. You went through a rough time with that storm. ...Be still, sad heart! and cease repining; Behind the clouds is the sun still shining…

linguaphile's avatar

@janbb I find it’s an ebb and flow between healing and depression for a while. It eventually gets better and the only way I got through was with the support of friends. I also agree completely with @bkcunningham that the holidays are tough—all the changes in rituals, traditions, familiarities, etc. is difficult. Go on—make new traditions!! I’m in the middle of making some new ones myself- it feels way awkward and fun at the same time :D HUGS!!!

Aster's avatar

Yes; I even hallucinated once. For the rest, see @Coloma ‘s answer.

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