Having Meltdowns: The Effects on the Family and Individual

One day you are happy and laughing and the next you are crying. - Grete Waitz

One day you are happy and laughing and the next you are crying.
– Grete Waitz

Yesterday, the moment I had been dreading all semester happened; I had a meltdown.  After months of working toward recovery and being more independent, everything fell apart in a few minutes.  Spiraling downward, my irrational panic reminded me of years ago.  Darkness consumed my mind, making me transform into my 14-year-old self.  Broken inside, I sobbed harder than I have in months if not years.

Why is it that things can be going so well and then change suddenly?  All fall, I held myself together.  Sure, moments were difficult, but for the first time, life seemed beautiful and full of hope.  Last night, all of my accomplishments dissipated as I lost control of my anxieties and hurts.

These meltdowns used to be regular for me.  My therapist helped me to realize that these times when I sob and lament over every little thing is brought on by my aspergers, anxiety, and depression.  The eating disorder often adds more stress.  Thus, I used to turn to self-harm or food for comfort.  Last night, negative ways to cope popped into my head.  However, I used very few of them and instead tried to turn to my parents for help.

In the end, my mother helped me to reconcile with others.  Each member of my family tried to reach out to me and convince me of how much I was loved.  Pink nosed and sniffling, I stopped crying and tried to enter into normal festivities.  Mario raised my spirits by dancing to Mariah Carey, Scotty McCreery, and Kelly Clarkson Christmas music.

Yet the meltdown still affect me and my family.  When I see how much my mental illness hurts those around me, I wish that someone would lock me up forever so that I would never harm anyone again.  These are the times when I believe that this world would be better off with me gone.

In fact, I asked my mother to take me to the hospital again.  That way I would be out of the way for my family’s Christmas celebrations.  Anyone who knows me will attest to the fact that the last place I want to go is back to the psych ward.  However, being in an awful place or even on the streets (which I also suggested to my mom) would be better than spoiling this holiday for my family.

Meltdowns and other symptoms of mental illness, learning disorders, and any other types of health issues are difficult for the family members of the person struggling.  Believe me, those who have these disorders or diseases realize how difficult they make life for their loved ones.  Guilt fills me whenever my family gathers.  Sometimes, I hide in the bathroom and just listen to my family laugh without me.  If I was not in the house, everything would be more simple for them.  Better yet, if I were never born, no one would have to deal with any of my problems.

I hate Mario being sent out of the room so that he will not hear my desire to hurt myself.  Watching my dad struggle to say anything to me for fear of angering me breaks my heart.  Whether my sisters smother me in a hug, stay silent about an accomplishment, or look at the ground trying not to cry, their actions show how much they care and how difficult that is.  My mother’s anger when I hurt myself also reminds me of the hurt that I cause.

So often I wish that things were different.  If only I tried harder, perhaps things could change, and I could be normal.  However, deep down, I know that I can heal but not change.  Some of my burdens will haunt me forever.  I can learn to live with my illnesses, but I cannot fully escape them.

During this Christmas season, I want to encourage all of those who are struggling and their families.  Meltdowns probably will occur.  This is a stressful time of year which brings out anxiety in many people.  These are difficult to deal with but no impossible.  Taking one day, you can make it through this next few days.  I will be struggling and smiling through this holiday along with you.


15 thoughts on “Having Meltdowns: The Effects on the Family and Individual

  1. It’s not always a bad thing to go through that, it’s often a part of healing even though it hurts like hell and doesn’t feel like it. I’m sorry you’re hurting xo

  2. Thanks for this post, because it reminds me that I’m not the only one going through this! I had a meltdown the other day too. I don’t get much support or understanding from my family members about it. They tend to just ignore me completely, which makes me feel more alone and unloved than ever. My brother keeps making comments about “being controlled by your emotions.” I know it is hard for others to be around me, but I wish people would also remember that it is hard to BE me, and I don’t get the option of just walking away from myself!

    • It is so hard for people who have not struggled with mental illness to understand the daily struggle. I am so sorry that your family is not supportive. My hope for you is that this Christmas season you can find someone to stand by you and also find the strength inside to be kind to yourself even if you have a meltdown and no one seems to understand.

  3. I’m sorry to hear you’re upset and I hope you feel better soon. Have a Merry Christmas Anna Rose.

  4. 80smetalman says:

    Anna, from what I’ve been reading from your posts, you have been doing remarkably well. Sure you had a meltdown, but these things are to be expected and it sounds like you have a loving family to support you. So dust yourself off and have a merry Christmas.

  5. April says:

    I had a meltdown last year. It created a lot of anxiety leading up to Christmas this year. I was fearful I would lose it again. I am feeling pretty stable right now, taking things one tiny step at a time. When I feel myself slip, I have been trying to “step over it”, acknowledging my anxiety, or sense of sadness, and so far I have kept those feelings from taking over.

    Through your blog, I have read a lot of challenges you have taken on, some of them were tough, and you made it through them. Maybe we can’t always avoid the extremely rough times, but we need to remind ourselves that we can make it. just take it a moment at time, and know you can return to a more manageable place. You have been there, you know you will be there again. The holidays are stressful, but that’s okay—-take some time for yourself. Sounds like your family is supportive and loves you. Not to sound mean, but worrying about their feelings while trying to heal ourselves, adds to the stress and frustration that brings us back to the episodes we fear will return.

    Take care.

    • Wow, that is amazing! I am glad to hear that this Christmas is going better this year. Thank you so much for your encouragement. Stepping over your emotions sounds like a great idea.

      • April says:

        I’ve thought about my comment about stepping over my emotions, and I’m not sure it was what I really meant. I have learned to acknowledge that there are times that will not doubt be very hard to manage. Sometimes, I know when it is creeping up, but sometimes I’m blindsided and I feel hopeless. I’m learning to acknowledge that I will never be as perfect as I imagine, or expect myself to be, and that’s what I’m working through.

        Reading your posts have been very inspiring to me. Through your writing you show what you struggle with, and how you are fighting to overcome.

        • Thank you so much! I am glad that my posts have inspired you. Your blog has been very helpful to me as well. Thank you also for the explanation. That is a very wise and amazingly strong way to look at life. It sounds difficult but worth the effort.

  6. Bob Pierce says:

    Te past is history, the future is a mystery. Live , love and be happy today. Above all– DON’T TRY TO BE NORMAL!!! How can you define “Normal? If you can’t define it, just be yourself and call it normal.
    I don’t have any of your problems but I have often found Christmas to be a depressing time, part of which is due to the fact that once the celebration is over we are left with winter. There is a glimmer of hope however because the days begin to get longer.

    • Very good point! Normal is just about impossible to define. Thank you for the reminder. Christmas does seem rather depressing for that reason. However, I look forward to longer days.

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