It’s not uncommon and it calls for action, not shame. Depression, anxiety, mania, stress, substances – sometimes we live on the edge. And it comes at a cost. How to survive a depression or anxiety crisis? Let’s talk…
Embrace your suffering and be worthy of it. What you expect from life is irrelevant. It’s what life expects from you that matters.
Beneath your conscious awareness, a dangerous amount of biological and environmental fuel accumulated.
Then came the igniting trigger, and you blew. It was crisis time and you believed there was no way out.
Does that hit home? Maybe you’re up to your neck in it right now. Lord knows I’ve been there a time or ten.
Fact is, we know blowups can sneak up on us anytime. Yet, all too often we aren’t prepared with coping strategies and techniques to pull us through.
We can’t be caught off guard like that.
How to survive a depression or anxiety crisis
“I was totally unprepared for this. And I have no idea what to do. Help…”
Between personal experience and my ER psych days, I’ve gathered a lengthy list of in the moment crisis interventions – some of which I still use to maintain balance.
I’m going to share 17 of them, but first…
If the tips don’t work for you, don’t think twice about reaching out to your mental health provider. If you don’t have one or if you’re having thoughts of harm to self or others dial 988 in the US. For those living elsewhere visit this incredibly helpful directory.
Let’s get busy…
17 Chipur tipurs
When the perception ofa crisis strikes…
STOP! Ground yourself and be confident in knowing your world comes to an end only by choice.
Accept what’s happening and the factors driving it – no fighting. And accept that taking hits is a part of being human. It’s okay.
Turn to the intervention plan you either have or will have after reading this.
Stay in the moment. If you start thinking down the road, you’re not going to like what you see.
Connect with your spiritual power source and maintain communication – pray, meditate. In addition to asking for help, listen.
In all things, maintain a spirit of forward motion. Even if it’s inches at a time, you’re on your way.
If you’ve been through it before, here you are. Obviously, you aren’t going down.
Understand there’s a good chance that what you’re feeling and how you’re behaving are being generated by cognitive distortions. Don’t blindly trust your thoughts.
Allow your reaction and response to evolve. If you force them, things will turn uglier.
Realize who you are, not what. And there’s no better time to learn the distinction.
Consider the circumstances as the best possible learning and growth opportunity, and make it your business to do just that.
Take what’s happening within the context of your life’s meaning. And if you don’t have one, get after it.
Embrace your suffering and be worthy of it. What you expect from life is irrelevant. It’s what life expects from you that matters.
In addition to your spiritual power source, reach out to a trusted loved one, friend, spiritual advisor, or mental health pro.
This may well be a life-defining moment. Step up, and make it happen.
Keep telling yourself there’s no shame in what you’re experiencing.
Never give up on hope. It never quit on you.
Now, you may be thinking that’s way too much to ponder when all hell’s breaking loose. But if you review the list several times – a part of being prepared – you’ll be amazed how much falls into place when the chips are down.
And why not favorite the article or print it? Perhaps it can be part of your plan.
So it begins
Those of us trying to manage mood and anxiety challenges live on the edge. And we pay for it. Explosions are going to happen – that’s just the way it is.
If we accept that, we don’t have to be a helpless and hopeless victim. What we can be is prepared. And so begins surviving a crisis.
Maybe a few more Chipur mood and anxiety info and inspiration articles will come in handy. Take your pick.
Let’s play Jeopardy. “World History for $600, Ken.” THIS HEAD OF STATE WOULD WEAR CUSTOM-TAILORED SILK UNDERWEAR IN STAFF MEETINGS “Who is Winston Churchill?” Yesss.
’Work keeps the black dog from the door, the blue funk on the other side of the window.’
We began a two-part series on Winston Churchill and his emotional and mental health challenges last week.
We got to know a little bit about him in part one and gave the black dog, a metaphor Churchill used for his depression, a lot of attention.
Here in part two we’ll get into portions of his psych history, which will include his, what I call, eccentric behavior.
I’m thinking you’ll find this series closer fascinating. You may even identify with a thing or two. Onward…
Who was Winston Churchill?
Winston Churchill 1941
Quick review, The Right Honourable Sir Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill was the United Kingdom’s Prime Minister and Minister of Defense during World War II.
He was a great man, ranked #37 on Time’s 100 Most Significant Figures in History.
But of all his accomplishments, his greatest may be courageously moving forward in the face of intense life-or-death stress – all the while dealing with what was likely bipolar disorder with severe depression.
Winston Churchill and bipolar disorder
Let’s begin with the words of the man himself. And I’ll bet the farm I’m not the only one who can relate…
I don’t like standing near the edge of a platform when an express train is passing through. I like to stand right back and if possible get a pillar between me and the train. I don’t like to stand by the side of a ship and look down into the water. A second’s action would end everything. A few drops of desperation.
That may not be a sign of bipolar disorder, but I can feel anxiety, obsession, and compulsion. And that gets him in the ballpark.
Mania saved the UK
It’s interesting, there are plenty of folks who remain outraged by reports of Churchill’s supposed bipolar disorder. Whether they realize it or not, they’re implying that such a great man could never have suffered from such an ugly disease.
Did I hear the stigma buzzer?
What’s even more interesting Is historians are quick to point out that mania was a huge contributor to Churchilll’s greatness.
Fact is, the odds were incredibly stacked against the UK during World War II. And a leader without Churchill’s boundless energy would have likely been unable to inspire the people of the UK to continue the fight.
Had Churchill and his mania not been at the helm it’s quite possible the UK, and hundreds of thousands of lives, would have been lost to the evil insanity of Adolph Hitler.
Winston Churchill’s psych history
2nd Lieutenant Winston Churchill Age 21
Historians report that Churchill’s depression began in his youth.
And we know depression typically hits first as bipolar disorder presents.
Churchill was the son of a British Lord and descendant of a Duke. His mother was the daughter of a New York financier and horse racing enthusiast.
It’s known that Churchill was neglected as a child. And his saving grace is reported to have been his nanny.
As we discussed in part one, she introduced him to the metaphor, black dog, frequently used in those days in reference to feeling depressed or gloomy – “I’ve got a black dog on my back today.”
Churchill’s depressive episodes were long and severe. By all accounts, they could be triggered by environmental factors (exogenous) and come out of nowhere (endogenous).
Let’s get right into the signs and symptoms of Churchill’s reported mania…
Friends described his emotional state as either extremely high or terribly low
Difficulty with personal relationships
Delirious over World War I, which he referred to as “this glorious, delicious war”
Ramblings that could go on for hours
Ongoing financial woes because he couldn’t manage his gambling, impulsive spending, and living beyond his means
A typical workday began when he awoke at 8a and ended somewhere between 2 and 4a the next day. He expected those working for him to do the same.
Dramatic behavior and speeches
Grandiosity: self-assessment as a great man with an incredible destiny, disdain for others and their opinions
Funny, inhibition certainly wasn’t a problem for Churchill. He’d think nothing of meeting with his staff dressed only in his custom-tailored pink silk underwear, walking around the house in the buff, and conducting meetings from his bathtub.
Churchill enjoyed alcohol. It’s reported that his minimum daily consumption was six glasses of wine or champagne and five to six ounces of whisky or brandy.
It’s also believed he took the occasional prescribed amphetamine and barbiturate. To be fair, his workload and stress, especially during the war years, were brutal.
And, of course, his trademark cigars.
“…keeps the black dog from the door.”
Let’s wrap it up with more Churchill…
Work is for me the antidote, not for any of the world’s ills, but for all of my own. Work keeps the black dog from the door, the blue funk on the other side of the window. When working well, my life falls into place; I needn’t search for life’s meaning but seem temporarily to have found it; I am, in a world not notably arranged for sustained felicity, as close to happiness as I am likely to get. That’s what’s in it for the talent – the sweet delight in exercising one’s gifts – and that is everything.
So did Winston Churchill endure bipolar disorder? Kind of looks that way. However, I’d rather know him for his courage, drive, and accomplishments – not his diagnosis.
Much like the two of us
That’s a wrap on the series. By the way, did you identify with some of Churchill’s signs and symptoms? If so, did you find his story especially inspiring?
Sir Winston Churchill: an amazing man who lived an amazing life under amazing circumstances – black dog and all. Much like the two of us, don’t you think?
You need advice and encouragement – right now. “If only I could talk with an emotional/mental health expert who’s actually been there,” you say in frustration. You can. The great news is Chipur’s Personal Consulting Service is up and running…
…when all emotional/mental hell broke loose all those years ago, I’d have given anything to connect with someone who’d been where I was and made it out.
Who hasn’t gotten lost in this crazy old world? And when it happens, we don’t know which way to go or who to turn to. Often we freeze, and initiating the thaw becomes the task at hand.
I know the calamity well because I’ve been there – more than once. And I’ve repeated the words in the opening paragraph – “If only I could talk with an emotional/mental health expert who’s actually been there.” – each and every time.
As a matter of fact, when all emotional/mental hell broke loose all those years ago, I’d have given anything to connect with someone who’d been where I was and made it out. What I needed was a consultant I could compare notes with – even just one chat – to make sure I was on the right planet.
That kind of help would have been incredibly valuable.
The right kind of immediate help
When it comes to help, those wrestling with mood and anxiety disorders typically think of a weeks-long therapy/counseling relationship. That may be the answer down the road, but it doesn’t address the immediate task: initiating the thaw and working on fresh perspective, direction, and motivation.
If you ask me, the personal consulting model is the way to go. That’s why I’m offering the service.
And who better to provide it? I’ve been dealing with now-managed mood and anxiety woes since I was a kid. And I’ve worked in the emotional/mental health field for the past 18 years as a mentor, counselor, ER assessment and referral specialist, case manager, blogger, and writer.
That makes me a valuable help resource.
No doubt, it’s easy to get lost in this crazy old world. No map, no compass – nobody. Frozen. Great news! Chipur’s Personal Consulting Service is up and running. If you’re ready to initiate the thaw, head on over to the Personal Consulting Service page and see what’s what.
Has this been a year, or what? At times it’s felt like three. Enough already. Well, the good news is we’re down to the final weeks. Still, we need to properly wrap-up what was a very trying year. Here’s my take, and how I’ll get it done…
So many questions beg for answers: What really went on? Are my perceptions accurate? Where am I in all of the madness? How did I hold-up?
COVID-19, social injustices, protests, riots, elections – and the anxiety, anger, depression, and stress that came with them. By the end of the year it will have been 1,095 days of madness packed into 365.
I’ve never seen anything like it.
As of this posting, we have five weeks of 2020 remaining. Who wouldn’t believe it’s best to blow through them, quickly putting it all behind us? But five weeks are five weeks, and I’m not giving them up.
It may have been a trying year, but I deserve a proper wrap-up. And all of the madness in the world isn’t going to stop me. No blow-off’s, lazily waiting for a supposed fresh start on January 1.
Do you feel the same?
The first order of business are the holidays, beginning with Thanksgiving. I understand turkey day won’t look the same as in years past, but it’s on. If I choose to show for a gathering, I’ll make sure the attendance numbers stay within safe limits. And I’m just fine with wearing a mask and social distancing.
But maybe I’ll stay home. If I do, it’s still Thanksgiving Day – even if that means a cold-cut turkey sandwich while doing whatever.
“I’m still coming down your chimney, so give with the cookies and milk.”
Then there’s Christmas. And it’s not just the day itself that’s special, it’s the lead-up that begins the day after Thanksgiving. It’s on.
In my book, you just don’t mess with Christmas. There are way too many memories and traditions involved – so much spirit and love. I mean, what do we have left if it all falls by the wayside? And the scary things is, I believe there are those who would be just fine with turning their backs on it.
As it applies to the virus and Christmas? For me, the same protocol as Thanksgiving.
What was and what will be
So now I have the holidays handled, but there’s just one more piece to my wrap-up: reflection. I have five weeks left in the year to reflect upon what was and what will be. And I can’t think of anything more productive than pondering a trying year – and what’s to come.
So many questions beg for answers: What really went on? Are my perceptions accurate? Where am I in all of the madness? How did I hold-up? What did I learn? Did I grow? What does the future hold? What if there’s more of the same? Should I risk optimism?
I’ve already begun asking myself those questions, and doing my best to provide answers. It’s been beautiful. And how very sad it would be to endure what we have without anything positive to show for it. What a colossal waste.
It’s been a year – as difficult as they come. Sure, we’re down to just five weeks, but I’m not giving-up valuable time in an effort to forget 2020 occurred.
You don’t want to do that, do you?
Like me, perhaps you’ll do a proper wrap-up – enjoying your version of the holidays and producing something positive from the madness. Don’t waste time you’ll never get back. Have the guts and determination to question, answer, learn, and grow.
Comfort doesn’t come cheap, especially for someone dealing with a mood or anxiety disorder. Unfortunately, payment is often made with suspect currency. No one likes to be uncomfortable. But a life lesson says it’s the best way to find comfort. Hear me out?
I’m willing to be so terribly uncomfortable, accepting and learning from my chosen reality, if that’s what it takes to secure lasting comfort.
It was going on 40 years ago and I’d been on the inpatient substance treatment unit for two weeks. My counselor asked me into his office and explained that the staff wanted me to begin to address my trust issues, as well as the breakneck speed with which I went at everything,
D.J. issued the challenge: wear a blindfold and do everything with the opposite hand for 24 hours. I agreed and found it to be an insightful exercise.
You don’t have to be Uncle Siggy to catch the bottom-line: being uncomfortable for the sake of finding comfort.
Prior to moving, I lived alone. And since leaving full-time work in February of 2019, my social interactions plummeted. Add COVID-19 social protocols to the equation and the sum is a rather isolated guy.
Thing is, though, I’ve managed assorted social inhibitions for decades. And, go figure, I got used to being a bit of a recluse and rather liked it. Still, I knew it wasn’t good for me, and wasn’t the way I wanted to live.
One more bit of background info. My daughter and her partner owned their family home together. They parted company earlier this year, leaving my daughter in a terrible jam. How would she hold onto the house?
She never asked, but I offered to go on a refinanced mortgage with her. And since I was going to relocate to her neck of the woods anyway, we agreed that I would move-in for several months – until she could make some adjustments.
It’s my chosen reality
“Come on, now. You know being uncomfortable is going to take you to a comfy place. Don’t you dare quit on me.”
So here I am. My daughter and grandchildren have accepted me with open arms.
However, yes, I’m uncomfortable. Let’s see: new furnishings with mine in storage, finding an acceptable “my spot” in the home, unfamiliar routines and noises, people around me when I may prefer to be alone, not being able to write an article or read a book whenever I want because of distractions, and more.
This is all very different, but it’s my chosen reality.
I know I’m coming-off like a grouchy old man, but I’m really a sweet guy. I’m uncomfortable, but adjusting more and more each day. Besides, I know it isn’t a permanent arrangement.
Truth is, I know I needed to emerge from my self-imposed isolation and embrace people, embrace life. And I know that as I truly experience my present necessarily uncomfortable circumstances I’ll ultimately become so much more comfortable with myself and my place in the world.
I didn’t have to do this
You know what? I didn’t have to do this. I mean, I could have stayed where I was and reclusively ridden off into the sunset. Sure, I would have interacted with people every so often. Heck, I’d have shown my face out here, or in Baltimore where my son and his wife live, every three months or so – the birthdays and holidays thing.
But that isn’t the life I want. And to arrive at that life I made the decision to turn my back on the too many false comforts I surrounded myself with. Enough! I’m willing to be so terribly uncomfortable, accepting and learning from my chosen reality, if that’s what it takes to secure lasting comfort.
Dang, I’m so angry I put myself in this position. But anger provides energy and motivation for change, so I’m rolling up my sleeves and getting to work.
What about you?
I can’t be the only one who finds himself in the midst of such circumstances. In some manner it could have happened to you, and you chose to be uncomfortable in an effort to find comfort. Maybe it went the other way, and now you’ll reconsider.
Are you willing to embrace the fact that comfort doesn’t come cheap? After self-examination, if you come to know what you’re calling comfort is a charade, are you willing to pay the price – striving to be uncomfortable – to get yourself where you want to be?
Hey, you may be comfy and squared-away. If you are, God bless you. But what if you aren’t – like I wasn’t? What will you do about it? Perhaps it’s time for a life lesson.
I feel better having written this. It was important to me.