Emotional Ups and Downs

Yesterday was a bad day. What caused it? I have been advised this is a wrong question to ask. I have a logical mind, I suppose. I want to to know the why. I know that I can not solve the problem, but I do want to understand if I can. What was the catalyst or trigger for this emotional meltdown would seem to be the key to helping her be able to cope better the next time.

Even the experts say, “All meltdowns and shutdowns will have been triggered by something. The secret to success is knowing what these triggers are.” however, all of my inquiries resulted in withrawn statements and assumptions of my and my husband only thinking it was related to the possibility of her relapsing. Not that the thought didn’t cross our minds. Her behavior and demeanor were all reminiscent of the recent past. It’s natural for any parent of a recovering addict to think the same. However, in her mind we are bad parents for always thinking this. I say if it had been several years that she was in recovery, she would be right. The case is that it has only been two months since her last relapse.

Yesterday, I tried many times to approach her to bring her out of the sad coccoon she had retreated into. A day of tears, solitude and emotional outbursts. At one point I stepped out for a meeting and on my return her room was scattered with all the clothes of her closet looking like an explosion had occurred. Her explanation was she was cleaning her closet. Well, enough. I peeked in a few times and saw very little progress. Finally, an inquiry about her next day at school seemed to trigger a flurry of activity.

How do you know if you or your loved one is heading for a meltdown? Here are the signs:

The warning signs

1. You feel moody
Your prevalent mood is a sullen, gloomy feeling.

2. Making decisions is difficult (see Hamlet).
It seems impossible to make big life changes, and even small decisions are harder and harder to make.

3. You are irritable.
Low-grade anger and resentment or stress can lead to irritability. You may be prone to snapping at others over trivial provocation.

4. You can’t relax
The body feels tense and, try as you may, you can’t seem to relax. Going to sleep is difficult and you tend to wake up and worry in the early hours.

5. Your immune system is weak.
The body is run-down and you tend to get a string of colds or other infections.

6. You suffer from exhaustion.
No matter how much you rest, you feel exhausted and depleted.

7. Your eating habits change
You either overeat, or lose your appetite.

What to do when you find yourself or loved one in a meltdown? Well, sometimes it’s hard to find the right trigger. These are a few suggestions fun on this site:

1. Start Expressive Writing
Expressive Writing is a self-help therapy in which one writes about difficult or traumatic events. Research shows that Expressive Writing improves the immune system, and mood. It reduces blood pressure, pain, and post-traumatic symptoms. The way to do it is to write in a private journal for about fifteen minutes a day. Pour all your frustration and pain into the pages. (If you want to know more about Expressive Writing Therapy, take a look at page 12 of my free Ebook Overcome Anything: How to Find the Light after Darkness.)

2. Unburden yourself to a friend.
Talking to a trusted friend is a good way to regain some sense of perspective. Tell your friend that you’re not seeking advice. All you want it to be able to talk about your problems.

3. Take time out
Take the time to refresh your spirit. Go for a walk or meditate – even if just for a short while. Make sure that your time-out is spent with active recreation. If you just blob out in front of TV, you’ll feel worse, instead of better. Going for a walk is especially helpful because walking allows us integrate our experiencing.

4. Exercise.
A fast way to lift your mood is through sustained exercise. Get your heart rate up through fast walking or other forms of exercise. Even just 10 minutes of exercise will help you feel better.

5. Self-analysis
Self-analysis is a very simple technique that will help you get perspective on you problems. Make sure you are alone and undisturbed for at least 30 minutes and have your journal to hand. Now ask yourself, “What is bothering me?” Wait for an answer to appear in your mind. Then ask, “But, what is really bothering me?” Keep on repeating this question, and in the end you will get to the core of the complication. We rebound a lot quicker if we understand what is really troubling us.

BB is much better today and at school, but we’ll see what the evening holds.

All the best,
BB’s Mom

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