Organic Runner Mom

Helping your loved one through a severe mental health breakdown

How to Help a Loved One Through A Severe Mental Health Breakdown
How to Help a Loved One Through A Severe Mental Health Breakdown

*Disclaimer: This post may be triggering to anyone who has been through this experience. I am not a licensed professional dealing with mental health disorders. I am simply writing from my own experience to try to help others who may find themselves in my situation.

I don’t remember.

Did I have to wear a hospital gown every day?

Did you come and see me?

What did I do all day in the hospital?

Bits and pieces, shards of memories of my time in the hospital last year are still there but much of my memory from that time is a blank spot.

I remember losing all control.

“I don’t want to be here anymore.”

Just an overwhelming sadness. Darkness.


“Why? Why was I here?”

No one expects their life to spiral out of control to this point but that’s what happened.

I remember doing lots of puzzles. It was calming and comforting to me. A past time carried over from my summers growing up at the lake doing puzzles with my Gran.

Grilled cheese. Gooey. Pancakes, fluffy. The meals weren’t that bad.

I remember the yellow walls in my room. Cheerful yet stark. No mirror. The room brightened by flowers. I had colored pencils and notebooks for sketching and cards from you my friends and family.

Arts and crafts time. I looked forward to this every day. Molding clay, colorful creations.

We had therapy. It was intense. It awoke me from feeling numb. I listened. I took notes. I wept.

How to Help a Loved One Through A Severe Mental Health Breakdown #mentalhealth #mentalhealthawareness

Apparently I thought it was funny that, “I can’t leave,” I would tell you my friends or an alarm would sound. I was stuck in this place with so many other people struggling.

But it’s where I needed to be. I needed help to climb out of the darkness.

And that’s where you all stepped in. Friends and family helping me to heal and to begin the process of piecing myself back together. You were there for me along with the therapists and medical health professionals given the task of caring for me and keeping me safe.

You wrapped around me. You came to visit me every day. You brought me your smiles, your laughter. You told me stories. You told me I would be ok but you acknowledged that I wasn’t. You let me be sad. You let me tell you exactly what I was going through. You brought me love and kindness. You didn’t let me feel alone.

What can you do when your loved one suffers a severe mental breakdown?

  1. Affirm that what they are going through is ok.
  2. Make sure they are safe.
  3. Allow them to talk about what they are feeling without being judgmental.
  4. Encourage them to get help-licensed therapists either inpatient or outpatient can be of huge help.
  5. Let them cry.
  6. If they enter an inpatient program visit them and write them letters. Let them know that you are there and that you care and are thinking about them.
  7. If needed contact help.

SAMHSA’s National Helpline – 1-800-662-HELP (4357)

SAMHSA’s National Helpline is a free, confidential, 24/7, 365-day-a-year treatment referral and information service (in English and Spanish) for individuals and families facing mental and/or substance use disorders.

I hope in writing this post that you will understand a little more about me and what I have been through recently. I am only now beginning to be able to talk about this so openly and I hope that in my sharing that I might be able to help someone in need.

Thank you for reading. For listening. And for being there.

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34 responses

34 responses

  1. Sandra, you are so wonderful. Thank you for sharing this personal story that is bound to help others. It’s always hard to know what to say, how to help. Your important information is so valuable. Cheers my friend and know you are loved.

    1. thank you for reading Jilly! It is hard to share but talking about it is part of the healing process and I hope that my story does help someone else. Miss you sweet friend!

  2. Thank you for sharing this, it’s beautiful and honest and you’re doing important work to raise awareness for mental health. I hope this helps others suffering and those who have loved ones who are suffering! Thank you! <3

    1. It actually flowed out of me when I wrote this. The words are healing and lifted a weight off of me as this is my truth. thank you so much for your love and support!

  3. Sending much love your way! This is a beautiful expression of your experience is so helpful. Thank you for sharing <3

    1. Thank you so much Coco. IT is helpful for me to talk about this and I am hopeful in doing so that I may help someone else. Thank you for your love and support!

  4. <3 It was very brave of you to share your experience. I hope things are a little easier now and that they continue to go more smoothly going forward.

    1. thank you so much Jenn. Things are definitely much easier now. We all have our breaking point. I have had to rebuild myself and it is an ongoing process. Thank you for your love!

  5. It is so brave for you to share your story! Please know that having the courage to do this is sincerely helping others. I am so glad you are feeling well again and things are moving forward!!

  6. As someone currently in graduate school for counseling and also as someone who has been in and out of therapy for years, I absolutely love that you are sharing this. I cannot imagine how hard it was to do but we all need to keep sharing and talking and loving and making mental illness and help for all kinds of difficulties – from anxiety to severe depression – OK because it is OK and it’s needed and can be so immensely helpful and healing as it was for you. You know I love you!!!!! and I absolutely love this!!!
    Allie recently posted…The Rundown – Back to My Running RootsMy Profile

  7. Hi Sandra,
    I was researching mental health today and your website popped up. This was the article that I was reading. Your initiative demands praise. Great stuff! Thanks. Anyways have a great day. Please keep posting your articles consistently.

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