This post may contain affiliate links, which means I may earn a small commission. I use this to help fund my mission to help others! Thanks so much for your support!
I lost my mind. I was experiencing mental breaks from reality.
I’m not even sure of exactly when the mental decline actually began. Thinking back, I often wonder if it came on gradually at first, and I was just unaware. All I know is at some point, it quickly escalated into full on mental breaks from reality.
These breaks in reality became very intense, I can honestly say this was the most frightening experience I’ve ever had in my life. And believe me, I’ve dealt with my fair share of fear in my lifetime. They would come and go, but each episode became more and more intense.
It’s hard to describe what it feels like, but I’m going to do my best.
Let me be clear: I had no idea I was even having breaks from reality. Everything I thought, felt, and believed was real to me. As it got worse, some part of me started to understand that something was going on with me. I genuinely believed I was losing my mind. I was terrified of my own mind.
Now that I’m healthy again, I’m able to think back to what my symptoms and behaviors were. Paranoia was definitely the first symptom. I became paranoid of everything and everyone. No one could be trusted, and everyone was against me. I only felt paranoid when I would experience the “break” from reality.
My perception of everything was becoming completely skewed. I remember feeling angry, hurt, afraid, depressed…these feelings stayed with me even in reality. A lot of these feelings were related to the condition of my health at the time, I wasn’t able to make the connection then.
Then I started to have these moments where I’d feel confused or unsure of my thoughts. As I got sicker, the confusion became worse with each episode. Eventually my breaks from reality got so bad, I knew something was seriously wrong with me.
Fear and panic began to set in
Once I became aware that I was genuinely not okay, it scared me to death. So many thoughts began running through my mind.
What’s wrong with me?
Am I going to be okay?
What’s happening to my mind?
How can I trust myself to recognize what’s real and what isn’t?
When the reality of how sick I actually was set in, it sent me straight into a panic attack. That’s how much the reality of my situation scared me. I broke down sobbing, trying to understand what was happening to me. Thankfully, my older brother stayed with me the whole time as I worked to wrap my mind around everything.
As soon as I was aware of how serious things had become with my mental state, I called my counselor and explained my symptoms. She explained what was happening to me, and why.
I believe she started to become aware of my lack of self care as it started to show physically. She kept stressing the importance of self-care, and had been trying to tell me to pay attention to my health. For whatever reason, I wasn’t getting what she had been trying to get me to see.
Thankfully, I was finally able to understand what she’d been trying to get me to see the whole time.
What contributed to me temporarily “losing my mind”
The number one reason I became so sick? I wasn’t taking care of myself. I cannot stress the importance of self-care enough. Honestly, I never took it seriously before. If you don’t take care of yourself, it can have dire consequences on both your physical and mental health.
In an unfortunate case of timing, multiple factors came together to create the perfect storm for this situation. To begin with, there was A LOT of stress going on within my life at the time. There was the incident with my mother that emotionally broke me, and when I finally accepted I had to cut her out of my life because my well being depended upon it.
My boyfriend and I hadn’t been getting along for awhile, even before what happened with my mother. Our relationship declined further when I moved back in. His daughter was living in the house at the time, but I didn’t know where else to go.
To sum it up, I was now dealing with the reality of my decision about my mother, a fairly broken relationship, with 8 people living together in a small 3 bedroom house full of negativity and chaos. This combination was filled with very heavy energy.
On top of this, I was working 40+ hours a week at my physically demanding job. Throw in the holiday season on top of that. After work, I had to keep up with laundry, house cleaning, kids and dinner. In between all of this I’m also rushing around to get Christmas shopping done.
I wasn’t taking the time to take care of myself
Physical and emotional exhaustion had set in. I was pushing myself above and beyond the capacity of my limits, and I paid the price with my health. I have narcolepsy and ADD, so I’d been taking adderall during this time as well. I’d been taking it for almost 2 years at this point, and nothing like this had ever happened. The adderall did play a role however, as it does have negative side effects.
I was taking on so much all at once, and it was draining me. Pushing myself too hard, without stopping to give myself a break. It never occurred to me that I wasn’t taking care of myself. I didn’t notice that I was making myself sick due to a complete lack of self-awareness. I had so much happening so constantly, I wasn’t paying attention.
At work, I was burning an estimated 2000 calories a day. Just trying to eat enough to keep up with what I was burning was almost impossible. My jeans started to become looser and looser, and I knew I had lost a little weight. I wasn’t too worried about it at first, I figured it would balance itself out once things slowed down at work.
While this is happening, my stress levels caused by my home life were through the roof. The tension was causing constant knots in my stomach. If you know what I’m talking about, you know how awful and even painful this can become. Combining this level of stress with taking adderall, I began to lose my appetite quickly.
It’s still very hard to think or talk about what happened to me. I’ll never forget it, ever. But it taught me a very powerful lesson, and I am forever grateful for that.
What caused this break in reality to happen?
This is pretty much how my counselor explained it to me –
The above combination created a series of events that lead to a domino effect of decline on both my body and my mind. Stress and worry, combined with exhaustion, began to affect my appetite. I was already in a calorie deficit, so when my eating became less and less frequent, I began to lose weight at a rapid pace.
My mind was always so preoccupied with everything else, I wasn’t aware of how fast I was losing the weight.
My body went into ketosis, which is a process that occurs when your body doesn’t have enough carbohydrates to burn for energy. Instead, it burns fat and makes things called ketones, which it can use for fuel. When this fuel runs out, your body to start using muscle mass for fuel.
My body had gone into what’s known as muscle atrophy due to the combination of poor nutrition and ketosis. It was causing my muscle mass to decrease, which results in weakness and lack of energy.
Once my weight started to become dangerously low, it triggered the psychological symptoms I was experiencing. Rapid extreme weight loss can cause you to lose both gray and white matter in your brain. This loss of gray matter interferes with neurological brain function, which causes all of the symptoms I was experiencing.
What’s the lesson?
Take care of yourself, pay attention to what your mind and body is telling you, and know when you need to step away from things. Setting healthy boundaries, keeping a regular self-care routine, and knowing your limits are SO important! I cannot stress this enough. If I hadn’t gone through this, I would not have understood just how necessary these are. I didn’t do any of these things, and I paid a huge price.
Because of my mental state, I made choices based on what my mind was tricking me to believe. I did things I would never do under normal circumstances. It has altered my life significantly, it’s still very difficult for me to think about.
There are some positives that came from my experience. I now understand just how important it is to take care of myself. My counselor explained boundaries to me, as well as how and why they’re necessary. I’ve learned how to be more mindful of how things affect me, and I recognize when I need to take breaks from things that create stress.
It was a very scary experience, and a very humbling experience too. It woke me up to a lot of things I still needed to work on within myself. For that, I’m extremely grateful. Thankfully, I have learned how to recognize when I need to take a break. I make sure to get plenty of rest, eat right, and take more time to do things for myself.
Self-care is not selfish, it’s imperative. Your health and well being depends on it.