by Patty E. Fleener M.S.W.
"No way out" situations in life cause some to attempt or commit
suicide or encourage self mutilation or self destruction in a
variety of ways.
There are situations in life that come to us where we feel stuck
and that there is no way out and we are doomed forever. We tell
ourselves "this is it." I am sure if you have a mental health
disorder you have faced those times.
At times they are self created and times where fate just seems to
walk in on us.
I had my car stolen yesterday. The police were at my door telling
me they saw my car driven over 100 mph by a 20 some year old male
and a female in the car.
It is important to know that approximately 3 months ago my
previous car just "quit on me" and to fix the car would cost more
than it was worth. It took me 3 months of financial hardship to get
another very cheap car - $450 was all I could afford and find
someone to take payments.
I just paid for some work on it last month. It is important for
you to know I receive social security disability for my BP and
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and live on a very limited
income. Just when I was beginning to make a reasonable amount of
money from selling books thru Amazon, I got divorced and my ex took
my site because his name happened to be on it and does not share
any of the proceeds with me. My articles stayed on the site with my
name removed and on some his name was put there. On top of that is
a very damaging "article" about me that isn't even true.
It is not important to know the site or the name of my ex. I have
in fact received a few letters criticizing me for discussing
similar situations, which I do very rarely but I will not be
restricted from talking about my life which belongs to me if it
will help someone else.
Ok, so here I am with no savings living on a limited income and my
opinion is when they find my car it wont be worth picking up. The
policeman said he felt the ignition is damaged and who knows what
shape it will be in once it is found. Repairs will not be worth the
cost of the vehicle.
Now I am very upset but this episode I am undergoing at this time
is very minor compared to some extremely complicated situations
I've been in. However it is nonetheless an example.
First, it is normal, natural and healthy to respond with powerful
emotions - fear, anger, sadness, confusion, worry, etc. We have to
feel what we feel without trying to mask those feelings. Many do
that with alcohol and a variety of other addictions. If we don't
experience the feelings that come with disaster, we are stuck with
those feelings inside of us that need to come out. Many call it
garbage. We are walking around with garbage inside of us and much
of can come from events years ago.
At times we are so struck that we may need to get outside
professional help from a therapist and/or Dr. You are a wise person
if you find yourself in that position and seek out that outside
help. It's called "taking care of yourself," not "I'm a weak person
for needing help." When we have diabetes we need to face the fact
that we will need outside assistance to take care of
Feeling these powerful feelings does not mean you are weak and it
does not mean you cannot handle the situation or survive it. The
saying about courage is experiencing fear but doing the thing that
we are afraid to do.
Studies have shown that the people more likely to develop
posttraumatic stress disorder if they "freeze" during traumatic
times. It is those people who continue to work things out that are
less likely to develop PTSD. I know that feeling of being frozen as
I have experienced it many times. Sometimes before I can deal with
the situation I need to "thaw out" first.
Shock is normally the first emotion during crises. This is mother
nature's way of protecting us. We don't have to face tremendous
sadness right away until our body can deal with it. This is why you
see many people functioning very well at funerals. Many of them are
still in shock.
So, during crises, tell yourself it is ok, healthy and normal to
experience overwhelming feelings. Don't be afraid of them. They
will lesson in time.
There have been times I have been unable to leave the couch or
leave my bedroom for two weeks and my therapist at the time just
said to "batten down the hatches." Do not experience guilt about
normal emotional reactions.
Just as soon as you reach a point where you can physically,
mentally and emotionally function is when you become that "warrior"
I have spoken so much of. Normally while we are doing "warrior
behaviors," we are experiencing a great deal of emotional pain
during that time. However our behavior does not have to match our
feelings. If we relied on feelings alone in life we would be in
more trouble than we already are.
Last night I became very dysphoric, felt hopeless, alone and
afraid. I played soothing music (for me Enya is normally a good
choice or Pavarotti). I cried and let all those emotions out. I had
a hard time calming myself down to even rest to go to sleep. The
messages I told myself were all negative. "I'll never stay above
water. I know I'll just drown."
However I awoke this morning with a different feeling. It did not
happen on it's own. I had to create this feeling and this attitude
myself and refused to give in to a giving up attitude. How did I do
First it is important to know that I have had lots of experience
with crises and have developed some coping skills and survival
skills along the way. I know that those skills are in me as I can
look back on my life and see me get myself out of bad situations.
This is another reason I mentioned recently that I believe that
those of us with mental health disorders probably have greater
coping and survival skills. Why? We've most likely suffered more
than a person without those disorders. This is not always the case
but I believe it is many times.
I have an inner dialogue that I tell myself repeatedly and this
dialogue and desire to get through this AND my very strong
spiritual belief that God will assist me and not fail me. These
spiritual beliefs are my foundation and I have said repeatedly that
studies show that people who have strong spiritual beliefs "do
better" during hard times.
My inner dialogue may be entirely different than what works for
you. Mine is "I am strong! I am a survivor and a warrior and these
qualities define me. I am the kind of person who is a survivor and
I am a strong person. That is who I am. I face life head on. I have
incredible inner courage and strength and that will be my attitude
during this crisis because I possess these skills." Then I
visualize myself laying down in a flat position and I say to myself
"Stand!" and I see myself getting up and standing straight
Why do I choose this attitude instead of just giving in to
whatever feelings come my way? I have come out of crises much
easier because I can do the things I need to do to get out of the
crisis, and I don't enjoy feeling bad when I can choose to feel
better. Remember the book I talk about? "Happiness is a Choice."
You can buy it through my bookstore at
www.mental-health-today.com/bpd/books/bpdbook2.htm In the
review it says "Barry Neil Kaufman, therapist, author, motivational
speaker, and co-founder of the Option Institute, has observed that
despite disappointments, illnesses, and physical and emotional
problems, people who are most successful in finding happiness share
certain traits. He shows us how to use these traits to change our
lives quickly, easily, and without pain."
When I develop this new attitude is when I make a strategic plan
to get myself out of the crisis and I take those steps.
Now there are times, for example if we lose someone we love that
the strategic plan is altered. We can ask ourselves what goal we
can accomplish today or that hour to get through the day. Don't
expect things out of yourself that are unreasonable for you to
accomplish at that time. Do those things, and work hard at it, that
we are capable of doing. Examples could be: getting out of the
house to do something soothing, call a friend to talk, finding out
where a local grief support group exists close to you or if you
can't find one find an activity you enjoy which will bring you
around people. For me, swimming feels mystical and I enjoy it so
Take one step at a time to achieve your goals. First I get out of
bed. Then I make myself some coffee and wake up. Then I shower.
Choose clothes that make you feel good when you are in them. Then
by taking one step at a time, make arrangements to meet your goal
Facing crises and grief is hard work.
If you do reach a time where honestly you cannot see a way out,
that's when you seek outside help and perhaps they can assist you
in seeing your options. Use the services in your area whether you
need transportation, counseling, a crisis line call and don't
isolate yourself. Seek out family and friends and accept their
Give yourselves "time out" where you can continue to feel those
feelings that must come out. Pamper yourself and love yourself and
get rid of any guilt. Most of the guilt we experience in my opinion
is inappropriate guilt. We feel guilty for something that we have
no right to feel guilt for. Get rid of it. Even if you are
experiencing appropriate guilt where we made a mistake, forgive
yourself, ask God to forgive you and move on. Don't stay stuck.
Mental Health Matters for information
and articles. Get
help to find
a therapist or list
your practice; and Psych
Forums for message boards on a variety of MH topics.
Copyright © Patty Fleener, M.S.W. All