Claire Weekes book Self Help For Your Nerves lays out some of the symptoms of nervous breakdown and places them alongside some remedial actions that, she says, will cure your illness. She sees breakdown as falling into 2 categories. There are some poignant distinctions between what she sees as the simpler form of nervous breakdown and the breakdown complicated by problem, sorrow, guilt or disgrace.
The simpler form of breakdown is not given any less empathy. The distinction here being that a nervous meltdown can be brought about simply by a prolonged stress on the system by a problem that cannot seem to be resolved. This is different to a breakdown that has at its heart the complications of sorrow/guilt and some insoluble problem. Indeed the simpler form of breakdown might have these emotional energies attached but would not necessarily have these things as prime movers.
I refer here to the complicated form of breakdown and in particular sorrow.
The grief that issues from prolonged sorrow can in itself cause breakdown. This type of emotional pain is often heavily burdened by fear within the sufferer themselves. Such as the fear of loneliness or the fear of not coping alone (particularly in the case of bereavement).
The sufferer often cannot avoid thinking about the sorrow. In time this leads to a melancholic brooding that exhausts the nervous system and weakens the body. Over time such a person becomes unresponsive to others and the problem of breaking the sorrow brooding sorrow cycle presents itself.
Dr Weekes saw memory and habit as key parts of suffering. We, she thought, remember pain but cannot distinguish between yesterday and today. Thus we continue to live in what we see as real and present pain.
Her remedial advice was to cultivate the attribute of HOPE. Hope is a forward projection that becomes an habitual uplifting memory. To accompany this, a fruitful distraction will help the individual to stop brooding. For as she points out, those with duties and responsibilities tend to fair better than those in solitary reflection.
We also often see sorrow in objects or places and it is a legitimate act to avoid that place or put away a certain object until there is sufficient strength with which to face it. Do not think that in facing these things straight away that you are necessarily getting better. Sometimes you will be burning up needless energy and creating needless conflict in facing these things too soon. At other times it might be wise to stay put and not change anything. One needs counsel and support in making these decisions. But there is no rule.
Occasionally sorrow is revived by a sense of injustice but this can be overcome in time and with acceptance and forgetfulness. No-one is completely dependent on someone else for their happiness. We have pointed this capacity and attitude for happiness toward others – we can do so again. It is part of our make-up. Thus do not seek revenge as this will harm you.
Let time pass and do not hesitate to put your faith in its passing.
accept your sorrow philosophically;
do not sit and brood;
be determined to bring hope into the picture;
temporarily remove objects that bring painful memories;
remember that nobody’s happiness depends entirely on another;
leave vengeance to God.
Hopefully food for your thoughts. Until next time.