With all your planning and organizing for your homeschool,
have you planned your nervous breakdown?
Do you have a plan for, not “if it happens”, but “when it will happen”?
Being an organized chick, I now plan mine….in detail.
My DIY plan has helped me through the years and even today.
The Mayo Clinic defines the term nervous breakdown as
“a stressful situation in which someone becomes temporarily unable to function normally in day-to-day life. It’s commonly understood to occur when life’s demands become physically and emotionally overwhelming.”
It’s not a healthy response. But let’s face it, we have all been there, and we’ll all be there again some day, to one degree or another. In extreme cases, a medical crisis can form. I’m a Registered Nurse. I knew the signs and symptoms, and I found myself teetering on the edge.
It had been “one of those days” for a long time. Dark emotional clouds were building, and the winds of despair were picking up. If you looked at me from across the church parking lot, you wouldn’t have known the struggle that was churning inside me. You would only see a smile and a wave as I herded our eight children ranging from age 6-17 into our maxi van.
Not even my loving husband knew the depths to which I had sunk. Bless his heart, he listened, he prayed for me and with me, and he offered his strength to me as a man to shoulder whatever was burdening me. But the thing was, he couldn’t do what I needed to do for myself. I had skimmed in too many areas of my life, and my mental health was suffering.
Physically, I was exhausted. Our family had grown from a family of 8 to a family of 10. Our new additions? We were blessed with two beautiful teenage boys. But, that also meant we needed to move to a larger house per Child Protective Services’ mandate for the first step of guardianship. And our building project failed to meet deadline after deadline because of a “series of unfortunate events”.
Emotionally, I was exhausted. The economy had taken a toll on my husband’s business and an injured partner added to the stress. There were also ministry deadlines piling up. Additionally, family tensions from extended family resulted in tears taking up permanent residence on the lower brim of my eyelids.
Mentally, I was exhausted. My thoughts and communication were tangled with emotional debris and soot of circumstances and perceived circumstances.
Of course, I was praying. David’s words in the Psalms echoed the cry of my heart, but the words had trouble leaving my lips to ask for help, until one evening at the dinner table.
I broke my silence and asked if anyone needed me on the following Saturday. Everyone reported the day was free and clear. So I calmly announced that on Saturday, I was going to have a nervous breakdown. A hush of silence swept away the normal chatter. They knew from my tone; I was serious.
The silence was broken with calm questions,
“What does that mean?”
“What does a nervous breakdown look like?”
“Are you okay, mom?”
I assured my family, “I’m going to be okay, I just don’t want my falling apart to affect the family.” I continued, “I don’t know what it will look like.” and then I admitted I had never planned one before, but I would keep them posted. My husband smiled and went along with this real-life lesson. Just putting my need out on the table helped to slightly lift my mental fog.
As Saturday neared, my kids began to offer me advice. After all, they all had a vested interest in preventing mom from losing it.
“Mom, I think you should sleep in as long as you like. Don’t set the alarm and we’ll watch the younger ones.”
“Mom, on your nervous breakdown day, you should take a long bath and read your favorite book.”
“Dad needs to take you out on one of those long kind of dates.”
“Why don’t you go for a bike ride when you have your nervous breakdown?”
“Maybe you could go out for coffee with one of your friends. I bet that would help!”
“You should get your favorite praise and worship music and listen to it while you take a walk.”
I was impressed and humbled. My kids understood me and what it takes to make me a better mommy even before I understood it myself. To this day, I treasure their list for me.
The abundant life that Christ speaks of in the scripture isn’t a life so busy with tasks that you lose yourself. Abundant life comes in the form of sitting at the Master’s feet, drinking in the air at the top of a mountain, filling up with the laughter of good friends, and snuggling up with the ones we love with no plan at all. And most of all expressing your most basic human needs.
“But…but…but…it sounds so…so…. selfish,” I said to myself.
I’m not so sure where I picked up that silly notion. But it seems like I have fought that lie my entire life. When I look at Jesus, I marvel. Jesus knew the secret to sustaining His humanity; and it involved rest, a lonely mountain, and time just to hang with His Father in heaven.
His Word has a lot more to say about the idea of rest. I love this scripture reference sheet, What does the Bible say about rest and self-care?
Rest is so important. In fact, it ranks number four in the Ten Commandments, right after commands number one, two, and three which is all about our relationship with our Creator and it comes before commandments five through ten which is all about our relationships with others. God-honoring rest is the link between loving God and loving others.
I discovered why God had to etch this commandment in stone.
It is non-negotiable for life.
Over the years, my list of restful rejuvenating activities has expanded. I am a little more proactive, however at times, I still fall into the same silly notion that I somehow have superhuman strength and can cheat in the area of rest. I always get caught, and I always pay for it. Sadly, so does my family. It was time once again to ditch my silly notions for God’s Word.
I did sleep in.
I did take a bath and read a book.
I did spend time in prayer.
I did go on one of those long kind of dates with my husband.
My Saturday scheduled nervous breakdown became a beautiful day.
Churchill said, “There is no way to be a perfect mother…and a million ways to be a good one.” And it involves getting some rest and care.
From Our Home to Yours,