STRUGGLING with DEPRESSION, ANXIETY, or BIPOLARITY? LEARNING can really HELP. Start with ARTICLES above or Topics below. Ty! Bill

“I Can’t Take It Anymore!” (10 “Yes you can’s”)

In tears, running her fingers through her hair, she was laying it all out. Her failing marriage, troubled son, depression, and anxiety – it was all too much to bear. “Bill, I’m totally collapsing. I can’t make it this time around!”

She must have thought I was the one on the verge of collapse. I looked her in the eyes and calmly said, “Yes you can.”

The Whirlwind

Tired and dysfunctional relationships, family members and friends in crisis, the economy, 24/7 troubling news broadcasts. And on top of it all, your depression, anxiety, and/or mania.

Is it any wonder you find yourself on the very brink of collapse now and then. But never forget the now and then part of the equation. More in a short, but it implies you’ve been in the midst of similar circumstances – and survived.

The whirlwind is what you make of it. Yes, I know we’re all built differently and have tolerances all over the board. But rarely have I worked with someone in the midst of hell that I didn’t believe had the interpersonal resources to emerge.

A Veteran First

Okay, I’m a licensed counselor. But first and foremost I’m a mood and anxiety veteran. I’ve been on the verge of what I believed to be collapse numerous times over several decades.

I know the horror and hopelessness of – you name it – panic, anxiety, derealization, depersonalization, agoraphobia, intrusive thoughts, depression, elevated mood, and alcoholism.

As many times as I thought I would collapse like a house of cards, it never happened. Actually, I had too much invested in my misery to bail. I mean, how could I continue to beat myself to a pulp if I perished?

But then it was time to survive for the best of reasons.

10 “Yes you can’s”

What I’m about to offer didn’t spew forth from a shrink textbook or a counseling conference. I wouldn’t do that to you. What you’re about to read comes from my heart, based in my life experience.

When you find yourself standing at the threshold of what you think is total collapse, come back to the following (print this, for goodness sake)…

  1. Put the whirlwind on hold. Step back, take a few deep breaths, and gather even a smidge of perspective.
  2. Make a short list of what’s truly going on.
  3. Come to grips with your history of inaccurate thinking, which has always led to troublesome emotions and behavior.
  4. Accept the reality of life’s unavoidable suffering – and be worthy of yours. It may come in different flavors, but all of us are called to endure pain.
  5. Take your first steps toward changing your patterns of thought. Start with #3, and move on to the fact that your emotional and mental reserves are deeper than you believe.
  6. Think about times in the past when you were at the very same place. Come on, you know you have been – and made it out.
  7. Grab a pad and pencil and jot down as many pieces of personal history survival proof as you can.
  8. From a different angle, try to prove to yourself you’re unable to emerge.
  9. Meditate upon the lessons to be learned in your present situation. And be thankful you have the opportunity to grow.
  10. Get angry! Come on, are you going to let your circumstances beat you? Bammo!

What More Can I Say?

Again, I know the hell of despair and believing emotional, mental, and physical collapse are at hand. I’m 100% with you and feel your pain, darkness, and hopelessness.

But in the midst of seemingly 10 million “I can’t take it anymore’s!”, I blindly chose to keep bouncing back. And then it happened – I emerged and flew skyward like a butterfly.

Is it any wonder I can calmly reassure you – “Yes you can.”

  • Cyndiq

    From reading many of your articles, I get the feeling that deep down you believe that the majority of people on anti- depressants could actually do without them. I know you’re not referring to people with diagnosed conditions, like bipolarism or schizophrenia, but those of us who feel or have been told by our doctors, that we need extra help in pill form. I think very highly of you and all the effort you put into helping people. I’m also considering consulting you for therapy. But I am curious if I am misunderstanding your true feelings about medications.

    • Ding! Ding! Ding! Great catch, comment, and question. And I’m going to give it its due…

      First of all, as a lifelong anxiety and anxiety-associated mood disorder veteran – and clinician – I am not anti-med.

      After finally being diagnosed in 1989, I started on imipramine (Tofranil) – a tricyclic antidepressant (TCA). My life drastically changed for the better. ‘Course, I had plenty of work to do on the social front – and therapy helped a ton. Retrospectively, imipramine alone would not have brought me to where I am today.

      When the SSRIs became popular I switched to paroxetine (Paxil), and went to sertraline (Zoloft) several years later. You can toss in clonazepam (Klonopin) on occasion. Heck, in the midst of an acute phase, a psychiatrist tossed risperidone (Risperdal) my way. That ended after two doses. Yikes!

      I left Klonopin behind several years ago, and stopped Zoloft (100mg) some two months ago. I’ve had no return of symptoms, nor do I expect an encore.

      That said, before turning to Paxil years ago, I stopped imipramine because I was feeling great. I thought I’d reached the promised land, but several weeks later I plummeted. Hence, the call of desperation to my psychiatrist.

      Meds definitely have their place in the treatment of any of the emotional/mental health disorders. And I would never be judgmental re their use by a client, family member, friend – or me.

      Do I believe meds are often relied upon too much? Yes. Is it my (and chipur’s) philosophy to gently make such a statement when and where appropriate? Yes. Do I know it’s a delicate issue? Absolutely.

      Viibryd has been great for chipur. I mean, I wrote my first article on it back in March, and had no idea that what I’d written would be so popular. I spend hours throughout the day/evening/overnight keeping current with comments, emails, the forum, and newsletter thank yous – and I love it! Please don’t stop.

      But I do find it curious that the other pieces I’ve written, detailing some very strong/proven relief strategies and techniques, just don’t get the traffic and comments. And as many of you know, I typically provide notice of a new article in the comment section of this article and the original Viibryd piece. I’m no marketing guru, but I ain’t the dullest knife in the drawer either.

      My major concern is readers may not be enjoying the benefits of a full treatment protocol. Hey, meds are huge – I know that. I mean, I can recall being housebound in the early/mid 80s because of agoraphobia. And I can recall long stretches of derealization, depresonalization, intrusive thoughts, and more – having no idea what they were. I just figured I was going mad, and that was going to be that.

      I know what it feels like to be sick beyond hope and so damned desperate I’d devote all my attention to the quickest and supposedly surest fix. But over time, I learned the value of other treatment strategies and techniques – including moving forward like a zombie until I somehow made sense of, and peace with, my world in the immediate.

      I hurt with anyone who shares a painful comment here. And it hurts to know he or she is spending to the max in terms of personal resources to make a med work – and make another one work when that one stops.

      I just want to make sure all bases are being covered. And for all I know, they are.

      Dang! Didn’t meant to go on that long, but you hit a nerve, Cyndiq – and I’m really glad you did.

      People – my life wouldn’t be near as full and fulfilling without you. You have my ongoing empathy and respect. Always!

      Questions/comments, anyone? Let’s chat…