Wednesday, March 6, 2013

"Nervous Breakdown"

Nervous Breakdown - noun. an attack of mental or emotional disorder especially when of sufficient severity to require hospitalization []

According to BBC Health, a nervous breakdown is an old term dating back to the 19th century, when many mental disorders were attributed to failure of the nervous system. It reflects a rather mechanical view of how humans function...[See term is not typically used anymore by mental health professionals of the 21st century - or at least not by those with whom I have been treated. In fact, it carries a rather negative connotation among many doctors, therapists, and patients.

Nervous Breakdown is, however, still used today by the general population to describe a condition that erupts when a person’s mental shores have been breached by stress and life's woes - when the person has reached a mental tipping point and can no longer function - when the person has limply melted into a massive lump of blubber and tears. {Can you tell where I'm going with this?}

Based on this 19th century interpretation of major depression and anxiety disorder, it could be argued that I suffered a “nervous breakdown”; but mental system crash induced by too much stress for poor widdle me to handle, does not accurately describe the disorder - nor does it explain why it didn't happen at other over-stressed times in my adult life.

As I mentioned briefly in another post, I have felt "different" than my peers since early grade school. {No funny comments here, siblings of mine!} As I look back on my childhood with the clarity of treatment in adulthood, I can see now that I was hyper-vigilant and hyper-socially-aware for as long as I can remember - always scanning the horizon for dragons, always analyzing myself {and not with the kindest lens}, looking to the responses of others for validation, and always finding myself in the last analysis to be..."less than." 

The major depression and severe anxiety that I suffered last August / September may have been triggered by a tipping point of sorts, but it was decades in the making. I now believe the ultimate cause is chemical and / or wiring {more in a future blog about that and how my acceptance of that was a long time coming as well}. 

The bottom line is: I am not a "hysterical woman", and I did NOT suffer a nervous breakdown! People like me - with biological depression {as opposed to being temporarily depressed, e.g., death of a loved one} suffer from a physical as well as psychological disease. We are souls born into brains that aren't functioning up to par; however, we are not weak or wussy blobs. If anything, we are strong and resilient for enduring and thriving in spite of our illness!

And now, I won't get any more hysterical about this least not for the rest of the day!


1 comment:

Greg Guevara said...

Well said Ms. Hi-Tops! For the record, I don't think anyone thinks of you as weak or hysterical. (Although sometimes you are hysterically funny!) Thank you for shining the light on this disease, and for sharing your wisdom and knowledge so that others may come to better understand and confront it as well.