How to prevent a meltdown
SECURITY BLANKET - Dr. Nina Halili-Jao (The Philippine Star) - October 9, 2016 - 12:00am

Are you stressed or overwhelmed at the workplace? Did you get a grade of 5 in a major subject when all along you were vying for academic honors? Are you being threatened by a litigious business rival? Are you one of the heirs of a vast parcel of land where one of your relatives appears to be so greedy and scheming that he files suits as a way to discredit you and manipulate you to agree to his terms? Has your marriage reached the point of no reconciliation? Are you now feeling so stressed to the point of tears, panic and hysterical outbursts?

Don’t wait to reach your “melting point.” I will share with you some tips to abort a meltdown. But first, let me clarify the term “nervous breakdown.”

Actually, a nervous breakdown is not a clinical diagnosis. In layman’s term, a nervous breakdown refers to the point of extreme exhaustion that is attained after a prolonged period of anxiety over a broken relationship, financial, health, occupational or academic problems or a combination of these issues. The extreme anxiety, sadness and stress reach the level of hopelessness, helplessness and over-exhaustion with an accompanying feeling of inability to deal with the situation, finding difficulty with the day-to-day routines or even with just simply getting out of bed.

A triggering stressor like being terminated from work because the call center where one is employed has packed up its operations, or a sudden loss of a significant loved one because of a fatal heart attack or vehicular accident may act as the spark in building up the immense stress. The feeling of helplessness usually renders a person to develop a disturbance in eating and sleeping patterns, further contributing to the individual’s physical and psychological weakness.

Other signs of nervous breakdown are the following: 1.  Loss of energy in doing things that used to give pleasure or gratification, like loss of interest in food and engaging in intimacy with the spouse; 2. Loss of happiness in activities that used to result in joyfulness, like one’s hobbies; 3. Severe guilt feelings over trivial mistakes; 4. Feelings of being alone and inability to reach out for help; and 5. Feeling that a simple task may be too difficult to accomplish.

Feelings of doom may set in and subsequently make the person lose his self-confidence.

Here are some tips to help you pick up the pieces of your shattered self-esteem and help you realize that life can go on.

You can lessen the pressure on yourself by talking to someone who will be able to empathize with you like your best friend, a trusted family member or a professional like a psychologist, counselor, priest, pastor or psychiatrist. Your mental wellness is of utmost importance. You must be able to unload your emotional turmoil by verbalizing it with your trusted friend or family member or go for therapy sessions. Psychotherapy may, in extreme cases, be combined with psychopharmacotherapy with anxiolytics and or anti-depressants.

Remember to take good care of your physical health, too. Force yourself to eat food with the right nutrients like protein and vegetables. Exercise is also beneficial. Take brisk walks even around your garden if you still lack the self-confidence in going out of the house. Go to a place where there are a lot of trees because the sight of green trees can be relaxing. Keep in mind that sunlight is a source of Vitamin D, which is needed by the body. To restore your appetite for food, take appetite stimulants with vitamin and mineral supplements.

Another way of diminishing the pressure on oneself is lowering the expectations that you placed upon yourself. Make realistic and achievable revisions to your life goals.

Learn to rest and to relax. Reward yourself with a vacation to break from your tedious work. Environmental manipulation is helpful. If you can’t afford an out-of-town vacation, try gardening at home. Pamper yourself with a relaxing spa and body massage or a manicure and pedicure.  Get a new look, a new hairstyle, a new hair color or a new outfit. Listen to relaxing music in your favorite sofa. Watch a funny movie with your family or best friend.

You cannot handle several problems in one stroke because problems bundled together will appear too enormous to solve. List these problems according to urgency and possible solutions and face them one at a time.

Learn to accept negative criticisms to make yourself a better person. Don’t allow your bashers to put you down. If you know what you are doing is right, go ahead and continue to pursue your life goal. Remember, you cannot please everyone in this pursuit. What is essential is your gratification, physical and mental well-being and happiness.

Unfortunately, sometimes, overwhelming stress ends up in a psychotic breakdown. Here, the individual becomes out of touch with reality, developing cognitive misperceptions like hallucinations (hearing voices conversing about one’s misdeeds or ordering one to act violently); delusions of persecution or grandeur (feeling that people are spreading degrading rumors about him, or there is a local community/international movement planning to hurt him or the persistent false belief that he is more powerful than Hitler, Bin Laden or even the Greek god, Zeus or Jesus Christ); alien control (feeling that his actions are under the control of aliens); thought broadcasting (thoughts are being broadcast over the radio or television); thought insertion (thoughts are being inserted into one’s mind by an outside force); or thought blocking (an outside force has rendered his mind blank).

In the event of a psychotic breakdown, there is an urgency for psychiatric consultation and intervention because this individual may need hospitalization to abate his psychotic symptoms without hurting himself or others.

Let me reiterate that consulting with a professional will help the individual at the brink of a nervous breakdown or even a psychotic breakdown. Definitely there are professionals near you. Government facilities and universities with medical schools/psychology departments have psychiatric/psychology staff to assist the public in distress. You may look for a psychiatrist in your region by going to the website of the Philippine Psychiatric Association, Inc. (www.philpsych.ph) or you may download from Google Play or the Apple Store, its mobile application to your smart phone.

(For questions on love, looks and relationships, e-mail this author at nina.halilijao@gmail.com. Belated happy sixth birthday to my grandchild, Erin Bianca Ong Jao!)

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