Earthquakes and aftershocks
Posted Monday 16 April 2012
In this guest post, Karl blogs about getting through the 'earthquakes' of the mind, and why it's important to plan for your darkest days.
The only way I suppose I could put into words what it is like to go through a ‘bad patch’ is with the following analogy of experiencing it, like an earthquake. The only difference is this earthquake is ‘IN YOUR HEAD’.
Sometimes you may get a mild tremor from time to time, these you can deal with and as they can follow a set pattern or cycle, in a way they can almost be pre-empted.
However, you may very well go through a long period without these mild tremors occurring, maybe a few weeks, even months. You then unknowingly become complacent, thinking that things are fine and life has finally smoothed out enough for you to take on more challenging tasks.
Life carries on and you forget about what the tremors felt like, the medication is working, the therapy is going well and you feel ok in yourself.
THEN, the 'Big One' hits. It comes from out of nowhere, you are unprepared. Confusion, panic, distress set in. It knocks you off your feet and all you can do is retreat to a safe place and try and ride it out, whether it is in a friend's arms or the safety of your bed.
Sometimes they are so bad you think you are going to die, you want to die, for it to be over and done with, to become another A&E statistic.
Gradually over time, depending on the magnitude of these ‘mental earthquakes’, they gradually subside, calming down in intensity and allowing you time to reflect and rebuild what damage has been done. You have survived this one.
But this is not the end, like earthquakes in nature; mental earthquakes too can have aftershocks. And these aftershocks can be just as bad and damaging as the big one, in some cases worse, causing a second fault line of mental illness to open.
So it is always good to prepare yourself for these aftershocks and have a contingency plan in place. It’s easier said than done and only through experience can you develop these contingency plans and improve upon them each time, so that damage control can take place.
These mental earthquakes shall pass, with time. And with time the job of repair and rebuild can take place.
But try to remember, never to allow yourself to become complacent. Earthquakes can lay dormant for some time, medication can only do so much, therapy sessions only last for a period of time and soon you may be back on your own again to fend for yourself.
But know this, you are not alone. Other people out there have experienced the same as you. You just have to know where to reach out and ask for help and grab it with both hands. Just be prepared and ride it out the best you can in the dark days and bad patches and do as much as you can without overdoing it during the good.
Read our troubleshooters guide to panic attacks for ten tips to avoid panic and help with relaxation.
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