If you have a hard time at the holiday season, or at other times of the year, you are not alone. Many, many people have hard times that become Crisis situations, situations where others step in and take over responsibility for you, situations where traumatizing things may happen to you. The good news is that you can Avoid a Crisis using the When Things are Breaking Down Section of your WRAP. This article tells how. For more information, refer to my books at WRAPandRecoveryBooks.com.
This time of year, the holiday season in many places and cultures, is not joyous for everyone. Lots and lots of people have a difficult time. Those of us who use WRAP often find that we have the signs we listed in the “When Things are Breaking Down” section of our WRAP and, to Avoid a Crisis and all of the possible related traumas and repercussions of a crisis we need to use our When Things are Breaking Down Action Plan.
If you feel really awful, or perhaps you feel wonderful but your supporters are telling you that your behavior is unusual or troubling, this is an important time. You can make a decision to do something about it, that you want to Avoid a Crisis and use the When Things are Breaking Down section of WRAP and that may be hard, or, like I used to, you can just allow the troubling feelings and behaviors to take control. These days I use the When Things are Breaking Down Section of my WRAP. I’m glad I do.
When Things are Breaking Down and you want to Avoid a Crisis, the signs are usually obvious, if not to others, at least you are aware of them. You may try to ignore them, hope that they will go away or worry that they won’t. I used to ignore them but these days, with all my WRAP experience, I don’t do that. I have a strong commitment to myself, my family and my supporters that I will take the actions I need to take to Avoid a Crisis.
While the signs of When Things are Breaking Down are different for everyone, you may notice things like:
- Feeling very oversensitive and fragile
- Irrational responses to events and the actions of others
- Feeling very needy, like you want someone to take care of you
- Being unable to sleep
- Sleeping all the time
- Avoiding eating
- Wanting to be totally alone
- Avoiding peers and other people you care about
- Racing thoughts
- Risk taking behaviors, e.g. driving too fast
- Thoughts of self-harm
- Being obsessed with negative thoughts
- Inability to slow down
- Bizarre behaviors (describe them)
- Disassociation (blacking out, spacing out, losing time)
- Seeing things that aren’t there
- Taking out anger on others
- Chain smoking
- Suicidal thoughts
- Paranoia (thinking others are “out to get you”)
In the past, when these signs came up, you might have called a Crisis line, asked for additional medications or to been admitted to a hospital. That is often not necessary and may not be in your best interest. It is too easy to get into all kinds of difficulties at these times, especially if you are interacting with people who don’t know you and who think your behavior is too unusual or dangerous. You could easily end up in restraints or seclusion or in some other awful situation. Instead, you can use your Wellness Tools and the action plan you have developed for dealing with difficult times, times “When Things are Breaking Down: Avoiding a Crisis”, to manage the situation yourself.
You may get some ideas for the When Things are Breaking Down/Avoiding a Crisis action plan from the following list, from the WRAP resources you can order on this website, and from your peers as you do this work together:
- Talk to a Peer Supporter
- Face time for 5 minutes at least 3 times with someone on my list of supporters
- Arrange for someone to stay with me around the clock until I feel better
- Make sure I am doing everything on my Daily Maintenance List
- Arrange for at least three days off from any responsibilities
- Have at least two peer counseling sessions daily
- Do three deep breathing relaxation exercises daily
- Write in my journal for half an hour
- Spend at least one hour exercising
- Spend at least two hours doing things I really enjoy (for me that would be quilting, drawing, playing the piano or hiking)
- Avoid Face Book, my e-mails, watching the news, and watching violent movies
A few years ago I developed an action plan to use at these times, When Things are Breaking Down, when I wanted to avoid a crisis. I showed it to my spouse. My action plan included not working for three days. He wondered if I could really do it. So I decided to try. I did a “practice run” of my “When Things are Breaking Down: Avoid a Crisis” action plan. And he was right. The first time I couldn’t do it. But I still thought it was a good plan. So I tried it again and the second time I was successful. I wouldn’t have thought of this strategy without the input of my spouse.
Following is a list of topics about When Things are Breaking Down: Avoiding a Crisis that you may want to discuss with your peers to get more ideas and broaden your perspective:
- What are some signs for you that Things are Breaking Down?
- Why would you want to Avoid a Crisis?
- How have you known when things were breaking down or getting much worse?
- How have you dealt with situations like these in the past? Do you think there are other ways you might deal with them? What are they?
- How do you feel about being with discomfort? Do you think that might be a Wellness Tool for you? Can you think of other unusual Wellness Tools that might work to help you move out of this difficult space and move forward in your life?
- Describe times in your life When Things were Breaking Down and you were trying to Avoid a Crisis? How did you handle them? How did that work for you? If you would like to do it differently another time, what would that be like?
We would like to hear from you. Please let us know how you Avoid a Crisis during the holidays so we can share it with others. Learning together we can move toward what we want our lives to be like.
Read More about Crisis Planning and Working Through Hard Times
Some of our MANY great WRAP resources that help When Things are Breaking Down:
Mary Ellen Copeland, PhD, developed Wellness Recovery Action Plan (WRAP) with a group of people with lived experience who were attending a mental health recovery workshop in 1997. She is the original author of the WRAP Red Book, as well as dozens of other WRAP books and materials. She has dedicated the last 30 years of her life to learning from people who have mental health issues; discovering the simple, safe, non-invasive ways they get well, stay well, and move forward in their lives; and then sharing what she has learned with others through keynote addresses, trainings, and the development of books, curriculums, and other resources. Now that she is retired, and that, as she intended, others are continuing to share what she has learned, she continues to learn from those who have mental health issues and those who support them. She is a frequent contributor to this site.