Avoid a mental breakdown by adding margins to your life


I’m keeping this image huge so that you don’t miss it. I shared this from another page on my Facebook yesterday. It not only hit a nerve for me, it hit the nerve of people who came across it. How many of you can relate to this? Are there commitments you’ve made that are now consuming your life? Are you really required to keep those commitments? Can you take something off your plate for an hour? For a day? For a week? Forever?

Last weekend I had a nervous breakdown, melting into a crazy, sniveling, pathetic creature right in front of my husband. I’ve spent months caring for his mother, something I’ve taken time off work to do. But in doing so, I’ve gone weeks without any kind of break except for collapsing into bed after putting her in bed. I’ve spent every waking moment with her. This is not exhausting work, except, it is.

Thing is, I was the one placing the shackles on me. I waited until I was going out of my mind before I finally pleaded with my husband that I needed a break. It got to the point of desperation before I said anything because I was determined to be strong and white knuckle my way through this. Also, I was the one choosing to remain in the same room with her instead of going up to my own room for some moments of solitude. I was choosing to be a martyr, giving until I couldn’t give anymore.

But that does no one any good.

This past week, I have made it a point to take at least an hour or more to myself. The difference has been amazing. Before, I felt resentful every time she needed something, and if I wasn’t careful, it showed in my attitude. But once I took regular breaks, my attitude changed. The resentment disappeared. I began wanting to spend better quality time with her instead of being in the same room and hating it.

On Thursday, my husband gave me a full day off. I slept in until 7 (I start my caregiving at 5), sat in a coffee shop for 4 hours, took a nap in the afternoon, and went to the gym in the evening. I did everything I wanted to do, which wasn’t anything exciting or glamorous, but amazing just the same. I took a day when I wasn’t needed for anything at all, and that was exactly what I needed. The next day, my MIL and I had coffee together, then we watched a movie together in the afternoon, and in between, I went grocery shopping without her and read.

If you’re life is filling up too fast and you’re feeling like you’re being pulled in all directions, it’s VITAL that you take a break. You need a margin, that empty space beside the busyness of your full-time life. It may mean you can only take one hour. If you think you can’t, you’re wrong. Ask for help. You need it. If you can manage a whole day, do it. If there’s something taking up your time without adding anything to your present or future, LET IT GO. Seriously. Remember that you’re only one person, and we’re all so much better when we let others step in and give us a hand, and when we rest so we can recharge. You are not a machine, you are human. So give yourself some grace and space.

Looking for ways to create space in your hectic schedule? Check out my book, Reclaim Your Creative Soul.

2 thoughts on “Avoid a mental breakdown by adding margins to your life”

  1. Not to sound rude but I find it a bit amusing that you have a book called “Reclaim Your Creative Soul” yet here is a blog post talking about how you just started carving out time! I read this post and the previous and in the previous post you tried to make it sound like what you’re doing isn’t a ton of work. Hate to break this to you but running a marathon is probably a hell of a lot easier than what you’re doing. Caring for someone is a ton of work, both physical and mental so cut yourself some slack! It sounds like you are cutting yourself some slack finally. Make sure your husband is giving you that day a lot more often too. Obviously don’t know your situation but if you’re a full-time caretaker right now its a full-time job like any other. Most other jobs you get days off. Make sure you’re getting enough time to unwind. Take care!

    1. Trust me, you and me both find this completely ironic. I’ve even mentioned that a few blogs ago. I obviously need to take some of my own advice because I pretty much challenged myself to take on more (other than the caretaking, this is something we never planned for), and now I’m paying the price. I think I tend to believe I’m capable of more than I actually am, now I just need to realize my limits before I reach them. Thanks for stopping by, and I totally appreciate what you wrote!

Share your thoughts