Chapter 9 The Nervous Breakdown - The Feelings During a Nervous Breakdown - Can this can be Positive? - How to Embrace your Nervous Breakdown
Your mission is to learn at least one method of your choice for facilitating life transformation. Life transformation is the process of the disintegration of one’s personality - the adjustment you made to your childhood family system - allowing one a higher integration into a more authentic identity. Your childhood personality pattern is like a cocoon. Your more authentic identityfor your inner butterfly.
In Chapter 7 we looked at the process of life transformation which is the process of discarding the old personality and entering into the new. We saw that the new authentic self included or integrated the Inner Child. We looked at two examples of this transformation.
However we did not talk about the the pain and identity confusion that often accompany life transformation. Because of the associated pain and identity confusion, that people often describe themselves as ‘having a nervous breakdown’ when they are in the midst of a spontaneous transformation.
[Note 7:1 I am perfectly comfortable with this intuitive term for this process. The fact that this term is rejected by professionals is evidence that my perspective on Life Transformation and the Nervous Breakdown and Positive Nervous Breakdown are unique contributions.]
With natural childbirth there is great pain and effort and yet mother looks forward to seeing her child. On the anniversary of the birth, we may celebrate the child’s birthday. We don’t mention all that mother put into the birth as the result is to be celebrated. But there was pain, labour and sacrifice involved.
The birth of your new self will feel like a nervous breakdown and can easily be compared to natural childbirth. A mother must give birth and there will be pain. There is pain involved in the birth of your more authentic identity.
While in Chapter 7, we looked at personality transformation as a process that we can choose, in this chapter we look at personality transformation as a process with its own momentum. There is a natural momentum for life transformation that will not be denied. We will be driven toward transformation. In this chapter you have much less choice.
Fuses will blow. It may be that your personality will spontaneously break down. That time of high anxiety/panic and identity confusion will happen. Or, if you do not have your ’Nervous Breakdown,’ then some physical breakdown is likely.
You need to learn to paddle with the current as there is white water rapids ahead. Yes, blocking your positive nervous breakdown might mean that you show up with a debilitating stroke, heart attack or another major physical health issue. This is what I mean that your ’nervous breakdown’ cannot be resisted. There will be a crisis. What Happens during the Nervous Breakdown?
What is happening during a nervous breakdown? Frankly it is a total reorientation to yourself and to others.Your personality pattern is breaking down and it was a pattern you were familiar with for you knew no other. This pattern was your identity. This identity was the ‘I’ when you made an I statement.
When you are in the midst of your nervous breakdown you will be anxious, depressed, confused because you do not know what is happening. Your patterns of behaving may begin to change. You do not know what is happening.
You will not be confident and assertive about your changes in behaviour. Instead, you will be uncertain, hesitant. You are vulnerable to negative feedback about the changes. You are in uncertainty.
The People Pleaser and Perfectionist needs to readjust beliefs and practices aroundreceiving recognition by achievement, performance and being nice. Eventually they will no longer care so much what people think.
The Super-Responsible can also experience spontaneous times of disintegration. With good resources it is possible that this will be an opportunity for a new and healthier personality to emerge. Especially for the Super-Responsible this means that their Inner Child will be listened to, healed and integrated into their new personality.
Positive Nervous breakdown Because there is a silver lining in the clouds of a nervous breakdown storm we can begin to speak of it as a ‘positive nervous breakdown.’ When we use the term positive nervous breakdown we are recognizing an opportunity for breaking the restrictive hold of our dysfunctional personality pattern and freedom to experience our more authentic self. That healthier self is what I refer to as your authentic identity and it integrates your Inner Child and the resources therein.
Your system is trying to break out of the old pattern. Get good guidance and this natural process can be an opportunity to let go of the old personality to discover something healthier and more authentic. The Experience of a Nervous Breakdown A nervous breakdown is a painful identity crisis. We feel like we won’t make it through. Nervous breakdowns are a times of deep painful personality disintegration with feelings of anxiety, fear, emotional volatility and confusion. During this time it seems that the assumptions we trusted to drive our life don’t seem so valid. Who we have been does not seem to be working. We may ask is this all that all there is to life? The hope, the promise, the love has not arrived. We feel like quitting.
The one who always cared for others may choose to have fun. The one who smiled and pleased everyone starts to have a voice of his own and tries out saying “No.”
Yes it feels like you are dying because the old self you needs to be left behind in order to step into the new. In a Positive Nervous Breakdown the disintegration of one’s dysfunctional personality results in a transition into a more authentic identity - a more balanced adjustment. A major part of the new personality is the integration of the Inner Child into the full fold of the personality.
Our Personality Pattern is a fixed way of being that gives us guidelines for our identity, perspectives and motivations. However, if our Inner Child was not included in our Personality, it is not fully authentic expression of our self.
We are not at our best when restricted by our Personality Pattern. It is like we have welded on a suit of armour from which there is no escape. We may be ready for one battle but we do not have a lot of options. Ife goes well for a while but it also seems that in the end life does not go well.
Not always Positive Not every nervous breakdown achieves higher integration. In some cases that is because we lack the resources to achieve the positive outcome. We have a psychological miscarriage rather than the birth of the more authentic self.
Deep depression accompanies the feeling of giving up. We stop doing things that have characterized us for so long. The Perfectionist achieves top marks in the toughest university course and then drops out and never returns.
However, the discussion of the positive breakdown in this book makes it more likely in the future that resources will be available. Anyone who reads this book will have an important fresh perspective on the nervous breakdown and that may help more people to survive and thrive in this crisis.
My perspective on the ’nervous breakdown’ is that it is an opportunity for Positive Nervous Breakdown. It is the death of the dysfunctional personality system to make room for a healthieridentity which integrates your Inner Child. Needed Resources
You will need the inner resources and resilience to process your emotional strongholds. If you have done your emotional healing work you will not blind-sided and without resources.
You may have access to good quality psychotherapists who understand personality transformation. They will help ensure that disintegration leads to higher integration.
Hopefully you are picking up some of the prayer resources in this book.
Why Embrace your Nervous Breakdown?
Be of good courage. Go through the valley of the shadow of death and find the banquet on the other side. The fastest way out of a nervous breakdown is to go through. This means to experience fully your nervous breakdown so you can move through it. Note 9:Read the Journey by Brandon Baysfor a story and a teaching about being fully present to disturbing emotions.
The positive in ‘Positive Nervous Breakdown’ manifest only when you embrace your nervous breakdown - when you choose to cooperate with the process. When you choose to let go and let God. You let go of your over-control of yourself and put this processin God’s hands. Engage your heart in the prayer using a prayer drama such as the Trading Post (Chapter 4) or Put it on the Alter (Chapter 16).
The most important letting go is letting go of trying to shut down your emotions. The Head cannot heal the Heart but it can shut it down. Shutting down your heart is a step toward death and emptiness. Shutting down your heart may be all you know. But it is time for birth and fullness of life. So choose life, be brave and embrace the process.
You get through this crisis by cooperating with the process and embracing heart healing in the midst the process. As you move through the personality breakdown your healthier self will emerge. This new identity will be a better reflection of your core self - your inner soul, your human spirit.
The Stalled Nervous Breakdown
Resist the process and the crisis can go nowhere. When you cooperate with the process it can be positive. an opportunity to grow, to become someone new. That someone new may be pushing to be born - pushing away the shells of the old so he or she can emerge.There is a good outcome if you turn and become like a little child. If your Inner child gets healed and is frees you will find a healthier life and a more authentic self.
But what if there is no emergence of the new authentic self? What if the positive breakdown gets stalled?
Thomas was a young man - and a life long Perfectionist - who had achieved the top marks in the first year of University in the toughest science course of Ontario, Canada. It wasa remarkable achievement but that achievement triggered a crisis.
During the summer after his first year he began to search for some deeper answers in his life and came up empty. He went into a depression and accepted a menial job in a book store. He never married.
His depressed underfunctionning went on for many years until he went to a Christian counsellor who had office space at his church. Here it was found that his core beliefs had no place or understanding for unconditional love.
His life had been marked by perfectionism almost from birth. His perfectionism was his avoidance of failure and rejection. Thomas had one form of People Pleasing.
His brilliant achievement of top position in Maths, Physics, Chemistry triggered a crisis. His spirit wanted love and assumed that avoiding failure and perfect achievement would bring love but it did not. He realized that when he got top marks and still did not feel loved. His inner man quit his search for love through performance. He needed to find unconditional love. In essence that was his nervous breakdown.
However his nervous breakdown did not resolve. He shut it down. He needed answers about love and did not find them. A counsellor would have provided the resources but he did not seek out a counsellor. He stayed in depression and living below his potential.
Only when he had the courage to go to the counsellor who lead him to understand God’s unconditional love did he find an answer. Truth freed him from his shut down andlifted out of his depression. Then his life began to change. He began to date a young woman in the church and they got married. Hh has broken free from his stalled positive breakdown.
Ten Ways to Embrace your Nervous Breakdown Here are some ways to choose the breakdown through prayer and some of the potent images you can use.
1. Psalm 23 Declare Jesus is your Good Shepherd and ask to be by your side as your guide as you go through the Valley of the Shadow of Death. Psalm 23. Picture Jesus with you. Express that in song or drawing.
2. Water Baptism Claim a death to the old so the new can come. Bury the old. The Christian imagery of this is water baptism. Imagine going to Jesus in the river and asking him to baptize you so you can die to the old you and find who you are in Christ.
3. Put it in Writing Write down all the characteristics that you recognize in the old personality pattern. What good did you do? What harm did it cause? Write down the good and the bad side of this pattern. Write what the longing of your heart is.
4. Declare Jesus as Lord Declare Jesus as Saviour, Lord, Healer and Deliverer of this painful process and submit what you have written to him. Tuck it away in a Bible and leave it there for 21 days then check to see what is happening to you in 21 days.
5. The Trading Post Make use of the Trading Post prayer drama in Chapter 4.
6. Put it on the Altar Use ‘Put it on the Altar’ to ‘Let Go and Let God’ as described in Chapter 16.
7. Follow ‘The Journey’ Allow yourself to fully experience what you are feeling each moment of the day. We tend to resist and suppress negative feelings. If, instead, you fully experience the feeling you can move past it. This can be encouraged by: Read The Journey by Brandon Bays and following the method described there. 8. EMDR Desensitization and Reprocessing Make use of Bilateral Music or EMDR processing. (Note: EMDR - Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing. Write down the main feelings you are experiencing and connect each to a memory and a belief statement about yourself. Then one at a time process them using an EMDR video and audio.
9. Listening Prayer Inner Healing For the Christian prepared to use the tools of prayer transformation, the whole pattern of the Super-Responsible Personality (or People Pleaser) can be taken to God in prayer:
One can use a prayer of confession. Confession is speaking the truth. Openly speak the truth that you are stuck in this pattern,
Declare Jesus Lord, Saviour, Healer and Deliverer of your personality pattern.
Take time to listen and wait on God. The next step depends on what comes to mind during that time.
If a memory comes to mind then bring Jesus to that memory in the way that seems appropriate.
While keeping the memory active invite Jesus right into the scene and see what he does.
If you can discover what seemed true in that memory - the meaning or interpretation that the heart put on it - then share that with Jesus and ask him for His truth and listen to Him.
If the memory is too painful to experience first hand then Jesus and you can view it as in a movie theatre. This provides distance.
If the memory is totally traumatic to view then ask Jesus to wipe it away with a cleansing with the blood of Jesus.
10. Professional Therapy
You increase the odds of success when you hire a coach or professional therapist to walk with you through this painful and confusing time. This can be done to preempt a crisis, gain personal resources for any crisis or as a guide through the crisis.
There are therapists trained in The Journey who will be helpful to work with. In their advanced training they study using The Journey for life transformation.
There are therapists trained in EMDR who can be very helpful in your process. EMDR has been found to be the most effective therapy for the healing of intense trauma and PTSD.
There are Christian therapists who are using Listening Prayer Therapy. The best example of this is those using the Emmanuel Method with its emphasis on starting with a positive experience of Jesus. Christian inner healing should be sought from those familiar with Dr. Ed Smith’s Theophostic method but who do not bind demons before a session. Invoking only Good in prayer before the session and remembering a time of communion with Jesus is a good way to start. Angela’s Story
I knew Angela’s Inner Child was locked away. She came to me in her own ’nervous breakdown.’ She had anxiety all of her life but anxiety was intensifying with added panic attacks.
One week, ‘Angela,’ doing her own follow-ups between appointments, wrote down what was taken from her in childhood without her permission. She wrote about the loss of her childhood, sense of self, security, acceptance, validation and ability to make my own decisions. Then she began to cry, sobbing without a break for 20 minutes.
She was a very strong Super-Responsible type. And her Inner Child needed to break free and be accepted as part of who she was. Normally Angela did not express her feelings. This intense sobbing may have been the pain of her Inner Child pushing to the surface. Like an oil drill that hits oil, there was a gusher of sobbing. I took this as an indication that her Inner child was starting to break through her reserve, like a chick breaking out of the shell.
You made the choice to let go of the old and trust the process. Yes God is in the process. God’s sees a new and better you - a more authentic you. And God can use professional resources if they are available. They do not necessarily have to be Christian. God can still use them in your life.
Remember that the foundation of your personality is your heart and that you are not authorized to to change the stories, feelings and core beliefs that are in deep storage there. If during this process you are aware of thoughts and memories that persist, then consider making use of an EMDR therapist in your area or a professional therapist who has embraced methods that can and do create lasting change in emotional learning. Knowledge of how to create lasting change is very new.
After you Change - some Side-Effects
It is highly likely that you and also those close to you will not recognize the changes in you as beneficial. as beneficial at first. They may complain. Changes in you may draw resistance from your spouse and others close to you.
They like the old you and may not immediately welcome the new you. Who likes change? They may have benefited from the ‘nice guy’ you or the ‘take care of everyone’ you. They will notice that you have changed and are not always the nice guy or not always jump to every call for help from others. However the new you is likely will be God’s best for you and will be healthier for you and, ultimately healthier for others.
If you are a People Pleaser you may find yourself saying, “I don’t care!’ That will upset people. But what it means is: “I just don’t care anymore about what people think.” Which means “My life is not going to be run according to pleasing others anymore.” This is your freedom manifesto.
By the time you are saying, “I don’t care,”your transition out of the old Personality Pattern is nearly complete. “I don’t care” signals that a your focus has changed. For the People Pleaser “I don’t care” means I don’t care anymore what people think. I am not looking to them for approval anymore.
As the People Pleaser becomes more assertive there may be fear. I was afraid someone got hurt when I was assertive/aggressive side.A core belief was surfacing and needed a listening prayer treatment. ‘Is it okay to get angry?’ ‘Is it okay to be assertive?’
Note 9: (Also We made need better teaching on anger.)
The Super-Responsible may be observed to draw back from previous 100% investment into family, church, and friends. You may be having fun and refreshing in their own life. You might do things you wanted to do as a child but were not able to do. Your Inner Child is out more often. You stop always being so serious. It will help if you do some listening prayer asking Jesus, ‘Is it okay if I look after myself?’ ‘Is it okay to say ’No?’ ‘Is it okay if I have fun?’ ‘Is it okay if I express myself?’ Preempting the Positive Nervous Breakdown
Because I was learning the resources of Christian Inner Healing from John and Paula Sandford, I was able to preempt my nervous breakdown. I was given the knowledge and insight necessary to recognize my personality pattern. I was given prayer tools to begin the process of Life Transformation.
Here is what happened. I had the privilege of learning from John and Paula Sandford when they were teaching in Alberta in 1980. They taught about my people pleasing pattern when when they taught on “Performance Orientation.”I recognized myself. I acknowledged the pattern. I shared this observation with my pastor and we prayed about it that very night.
My recognition and acknowledgment of the pattern, my asking for prayer and Rev. Baldeo’s prayer was enough to launch the birth of my new identity and to put to death the old pattern that I call ”People Pleasing.” A shift in who I was happened immediately. When with others I was no longer so focused on seeking out other people’s expectations and living up to them. I could center on my own identity under God and focus on that.
I was blessed to be exposed to the prophetic teaching of John and Paula Sandford. As they taught on Performance Orientation, I recognized the old self that needed to die. That enabled me to take it to God in prayer and put the old pattern to death and make room for my true identity in Christ to emerge. The full growth into my new identity continues to this day. The changes over 40 years have been so significant that my old self is almost unrecognizable. I am a new person focused on God and not people. I experience freedomin my new identity in Christ. I am grateful to God for that.