Have you ever witnessed or experienced a nervous breakdown?
It’s an understandably frightening, and largely misunderstood, mental phenomenon. And the affect on family members as well as on the sufferer can often be devastating. The following (in red print below) is a beautifully written testament by Lisa Harlow, aged 23, who seventy-eight hours after her first mental breakdown sat in her hospital bed and wrote vigorously in her personal journal about her experience. Lisa subsequently handed the notes to our staff and gave permission for the notes to eventually be published in a book by yours truly. Here's a sample of Lisa's notes:
I've never had a mental breakdown until now. I never really thought it was possible to have one. I thought it was like one of those things people say to excuse themselves from responsibility. I was up late most nights, and I drank a lot of coffee. I had a thesis and other projects due. To even look at them made me want to throw up, honestly.
My concentration was shot. A lot of times Jake my boyfriend would ask me why I wasn't speaking, and it was because I was always thinking of things I needed to be doing. I realized that I shouldn't, and I knew I would much rather talk to him than do those things, but I couldn't help it.
It was like a bomb went off inside my head, and I was scrapping "What would I do if I were logical?" questions from my head just to keep doing what I should have been doing. Right now, even that is a little hazy.
I got to the point where I didn't eat, but I spent my lunch breaks working on projects or whatnot instead of eating.
I feel this heavy feeling that I am letting everyone down. I feel like I won't make my parents or Jake happy. I know that I shouldn't feel this way, but I feel like I am heading towards a brick wall, and at the brick wall is the inevitable conclusion that I am a failure, a reject, a nobody. I feel like I am incapable of doing anything worth doing.
That fateful morning I think I finally realized it fully. I got out of my high loft bed. I didn't realize where my foot was coming down. And then my foot looked to me like it turned into a weird fish. I slipped on my fish, which was in my slipper, and then I actually heard the fish scream.
When the fish screamed, I screamed. I screamed so loud. My mouth was not my own. And then the fish separated itself from my foot and felt like it jumped into my mouth. I started screaming at the top of my lungs and shaking my head back and forth. The fish finally popped out of my mouth, and I saw my mother and father standing in my bedroom doorway.
They looked liked freaks from another planet. My father proceeded to tie me up with a rope, and my mother called the hospital and the police! I tried to get away while I was tied up. And I landed on the edge of a chair, screaming that they were trying to kill me, and the chair tilted underneath me, and I landed sideways on the chair. I thought I was fine, and I immediately hopped into the bathroom with the ropes tied tightly around my ankles.
[NOTE: The above photograph of Lisa was taken by her mother during Lisa's heart-wrenching breakdown. Permission has been granted by the Harlow family to use the photo.]