Desperation & Crisis | 10 Do-It-Now’s

Panic Attack Symptoms

You name it – intense stress, a major depressive episode, panic attack symptoms, PTSD flashbacks, a major loss. Desperation and crisis can come knocking at the door. Thoughts of suicide may even accompany. Yikes! What say we chat 10 Do-It-Now’s?

Got an email from a client over the weekend. With her permission, I can tell you it simply stated “I’m drowning to death.” My heart went out to her, ’cause I remember all too well how it feels to be that desperate and crisis-consumed.

Shortly after reading her email I sat in a coffee shop and put together this bit of verse, based upon what I perceived my client was feeling – and what I’d felt in the past…

It’s over
The endless hits have stripped me raw

I have nothing left to give


I’m dying
And I don’t know what to do

There’s a lifeline out there somewhere
I suppose
But hope is fading fast

And I’m not even sure I have the strength
Or desire
To grasp it
And hold on
(Still – help me)

Twinkle twinkle little star
How I wonder what you are
Up above the world so high
I don’t really want to die

By the way, had a session with her the day after, and she’s stable – and willing to move forward. But how’s by you? Anything connect?

Those 10 Do-It-Now’s

Yep, desperation and crisis happen. And when they come-a-callin’, you need to have a plan and take action. Well, here ya’ go…

  1. If thoughts of suicide are on the scene contact your counselor, psychiatrist, a crisis line – or head to the closest emergency department (E.D.). Don’t mess around – seek immediate help.
  2. Keep in mind how those enduring a mood or anxiety disorder typically think – overgeneralizations, catastrophizing, etc. Your immediate circumstances may not be as desperate or hopeless as you think, so see if you can downgrade the alert a tad. If you’re having thoughts of suicide this doesn’t apply – no second-guessing. Seek help!
  3. Come to the solid understanding there’s nothing brain-structure/chemistry irreparably wrong with you. Everything you’re experiencing is resolvable.
  4. Remember – millions have experienced your very same desperation and crisis. Many are experiencing them at the same time you are. You’re not a “psycho-freak.”
  5. Even if (and that’s a huge “if”) your circumstances intensify to the point where you’re thinking E.D., don’t get spooked. Look, if it happens you’ll likely be given something to take the edge off, which will allow you to gain perspective on your circumstances. And home you’ll go, with a referral. And as icky as you may feel, please remember you can’t be held against your will unless you express some serious suicidal or homicidal thoughts, or are unable to care for yourself.
  6. Bring to mind your last similar episode, ’cause I’m thinking there was one (or more). Sure wasn’t pleasant; however, you survived. Hmmm…
  7. Get with people – or even just one person. Maybe a family member, friend, your counselor or psychiatrist, clergy, a crisis line staffer, and more? Don’t isolate. Oh, and remember, you may not think much of yourself, but others likely don’t share your opinion.
  8. If you meditate, pray, practice yoga, journal, exercise – whatever – get busy. (And if you don’t have a go-to activity, develop at least one.)
  9. Think of bright tomorrows. Now is the time to calmly examine your life and come up with notions of meaning and purpose. They’ll serve you well down the road.
  10. Never, ever lose sight of hope. Just because you can’t imagine it exists, doesn’t mean it isn’t reality – fact. Remember those funky thought patterns?
  11. Okay, a bonus #11. Do you have a favorite comfy go-to? A pet, stuffed animal (yes, I said that), comforter (blankie?), etc.? A nice warm hug, even from yourself? You know what to do.

Let’s Close Now

Desperation and crisis happens. That’s just the way life goes sometimes – nothing more, nothing less. Intense stress, a major depressive episode, panic attack symptoms, a PTSD flashback, a major loss – and more – can generate all sorts of seismic activity.

Not to worry, ’cause now you have a game plan should the earth move beneath your feet. Print it and put it in your back pocket, ’cause ya’ just never know.

Yep, you’re gonna’ be just fine, k?

Oh, almost forgot. Have some Do-It-Now’s? Share ’em in a comment!!!

How ’bout more at-your-fingertips info? Check-out some 600 Chipur titles

  • Leslie Ferris January 28, 2014, 1:02 pm

    Thank you so much Bill. What a great list to keep handy – maybe printed and taped on the inside of a kitchen cabinet? (you wouldn’t believe what is taped to the inside of my cabinets….) Anyway, you offer such inspriation, hope, and just downright practical-ness to many. Thanks for all you do. Rock on….

    • chipur January 28, 2014, 2:14 pm

      Hey, you’re so very welcome, Leslie. Glad you found the piece worthy – worked hard on it. Can’t have enough hot resource material. Onward with

  • Ben Gott January 28, 2014, 9:25 pm

    Bill, as usual, your 10 “Do-It-Nows” are thoughtful, meaningful, and practical. I’m with Leslie on this one: we all appreciate your insight, your kindness, and your pragmatic approach to problem solving. As the kids say, BILL FTW!

    • chipur January 28, 2014, 10:17 pm

      Hey Ben Gott!
      Thank you for your visit and kind words – both mean mucho. I tons enjoy what I do, and if that’s reader-obvious I’m accomplishing my mission. And I’ll take that “FTW.” Chipur readers – check-out what’s going on with Ben at Very cool…
      Bill .

  • Cathy | Treatment Talk January 29, 2014, 4:33 pm

    These are such needed suggestions, Bill. I know for many, this can be such an issue. My son’s former roommate committed suicide and this kind of action leaves everyone in deep sorrow, wondering why and how they could have done more. I agree with Leslie as well. This is one to save and reread. Thanks for all you do!

    • chipur January 29, 2014, 5:21 pm

      Well, hey, Cathy – appreciate your visit and contribution. And glad you found the poem meaningful. Yeah, now we’re playing in the big leagues – lives at stake. If this piece becomes a keeper for even just one person – and keeps her/him safe and secure – that’s very cool. You know, you’re doing some great work on your side of the fence. Chipur readers – click on Cathy’s link and see what she has to offer…

  • Cathy | Treatment Talk January 29, 2014, 4:33 pm

    P.S. Your poem speaks volumes!

  • Patricia Miller January 29, 2014, 5:58 pm

    Your poem means so much to me for a myriad of reasons. I’m a suicide survivor twice over with both my mother and father deciding to end their lives and both expecting me to have some magic words to change their minds; a tough order for a 12 year old who tried for her mother and a 26 year old who tried with her father. Then, being savvy enough to recognize that having such a close familial connection would make me more vulnerable, as well as my children, I was always aware of the risk.. When depression jumped on me like a big dog and had me on the ground with teeth around my neck, I knew my own resources were pretty limited. I did reach out, and I can only say I am thankful your client reached out to you.

    Probably the biggest thing I would add to your DO IT NOW list is that it is absolutely all of our responsibility to ask in clear language if anyone we know is thinking about suicide and then be prepared to help them get to meaningful help. Maybe that is to a counselor, or to clergy or to the emergency department. The last thing we have to fear is that by asking them if they are considering suicide we will somehow give them a bright idea that this will be the answer; NOPE, won’t happen. Please ask because I guarantee you it would have helped me if I’d had anyone around me who cared enough to ask. Fortunately, I was self-aware enough to get help. However it could so easily have gone another way. I know why it didn’t. I was the oldest and as such I cleaned up the mess from both parent’s suicides. I just could not do that to my family. Some lessons leave a long legacy. My heart is always with those who are suffering in the land of darkness because there is light; they just may not be looking to the correct horizon. Thank you for shining the light so brightly, Bill.

    • chipur January 29, 2014, 6:32 pm

      Wow! Thank you for sharing so openly with us, Patricia. It’s appreciated ’cause – well – it saves lives. And I don’t think that’s a hyperbolic statement.

      Can’t imagine losing both parents to suicide – much less having them come to me first for a magical deterrent. Much, much less cleaning up the mess – and I’m thinking that includes the physical mess on the scene. I’m stunned. I’m so glad you had the smarts to put two and two together, and realize you were very much at risk – and seek help – AND realize the risk was a factor for your children.

      Thank you for your addition to our list, Patricia. Huge point! And thank you for your consistent visits and contributions. It means much to all of us…


  • Beth Wilson January 29, 2014, 10:31 pm

    Whoa. Intense stuff, especially after reading Patricia’s comment . . . my heart goes out to her. I can’t even imagine losing both parents to suicide.

    Let me say too that I didn’t know you’re a poet. In all seriousness, your verse speaks volumes about your connection with your clients–they’re blessed to have you.

    I do have a Do It Now to add. It is to simply get up. If you think you can’t get out of bed, do it anyway. Push yourself because the chances are good that something in your house or apartment will capture your attention (even the treasured stuffed animal) or maybe something just out the window. Notice things. Those are the things that tell you life is worth living. Get up!

    Thanks, Bill, for another great piece!

    • chipur January 30, 2014, 9:36 am

      No doubt, super intense stuff, Beth. And that’s a portion of life for millions. Thanks again to Patricia for sharing such sensitive material with us.

      Your Do-It-Now is so good. Yes, no matter the despair and hopelessness, we just have to get out of the sack. Push – and sustain forward motion! Our recovery – lives – depend upon it.

      Thanks for your visit and participation…


  • Lisa Frederiksen | BreakingThe February 1, 2014, 12:30 pm

    I loved your “bit of verse,” Bill, and this list is excellent. I am printing a copy and will share this widely. It’s so important people understand, and I especially resonate with # 3, “Come to the solid understanding there’s nothing brain-structure/chemistry irreparably wrong with you. Everything you’re experiencing is resolvable.” You are such an incredible resource and source of help – thank you for all you do!!!

    • chipur February 1, 2014, 1:48 pm

      Well, thank you, Lisa. And I’m so pleased you’re going to print a copy and share it. So many need to have this at their fingertips. It’s such an awful, awful feeling – and to have a go-to plan is just huge. I’m always happy to see you’ve stopped-by…