Recovering from a Breakdown (8)
By: Beth McHugh 2006
In our continuing series in recovering from breakdown, we will look at the power of counting your blessings. When your world has been turned upside down by mental illness, it is easy to lose sight of what is positive about your life. And no matter how sick you are, or how far away recovery seems, there are still positive things in your life. These are the things that we must hold onto during our darkest hours.
“Well!” you might say. “I have very little to be happy about. I am so sick, I can barely function!” That may well be true as you struggle through each day, and yet there are still a myriad of positive things in our lives, if we just stop to take the time to remind ourselves of them.
Forgetting the positives in our lives in a very common human failing, as Charles Dickens reminds us:
“Reflect upon your present blessings
of which every man has many,
not on your past misfortunes,
of which all men have some”.
Sometimes, when we are very down, it can help to make a list of all our positive attributes. You may think you have none, but that is just not so. For one thing, if you have taken the time to read this article, you are doing something positive for yourself. You are trying to get well. This is a positive thing.
Perhaps you have helpful friends and family. This is a wonderful blessing when you are suffering from an emotional breakdown. But perhaps your family does not understand and offer little or no support. Perhaps your friends have largely deserted you as well, because you have fallen into a hole which they cannot comprehend and do not wish to take the time to understand. This is probably the worst part of having a breakdown, when you feel alone, unwanted, and abandoned. Remind yourself that they are acting from their own fears. It is not about you, it is about them. Nevertheless, you do have to cope with the pain of rejection.
Yet help is still at hand. There are many support groups where you will be able to talk to people who really understand your condition, because they suffer from it too. Having a support group is better than any doctor or medication, because you will be among fellow travelers. Do you best to find one; it will be a valuable resource for your recovery.
Remember, too, that you have a home to live in, a bed to sleep in, and food to eat. Often we take these things for granted, yet they are great gifts, as many people in this world possess none of these things. If you have enough money to buy the basics of life, again, you are blessed. Many do not have this luxury, either.
Perhaps you have a helpful doctor or counselor. Although you may only see them infrequently you know that they are there and they care. If you feel they do not care, take steps to find one who does. It is important to have professional help that you can trust.
When we are very ill, we often must revert to what is good about the very basics of our lives, as all other aspects seem so overwhelming. If we lie in bed in the morning and hear a bird call, try to feel grateful that you can hear. Many can’t. As you stumble from your bed each morning to go through the painful grind of another day, be aware of your feet on the floor. You can walk! Again, many can’t.
Although suggesting that you count your blessings is in no way an attempt to minimize the pain of mental breakdown, it is through reminding ourselves of what is good about our lives that can help us break through instead of break down.
And here is one more task for you:
“Remember the day’s blessings;
forget the day’s troubles.”
At the end of each day, no matter what disasters have befallen you,
take a moment to find at least three positives in your life today. If
you try, you will find them. When you recall them, focus on them briefly
and know that tomorrow there will be at least three more waiting for