A Nervous Breakdown Roadmap

Your truth is beautiful


A friend of mine is going through a really tough time right now.

If you knew me a few years ago (or if you regularly read this blog), you’ll know that there was a time when I was Ms. Tough Time (my best friend still calls me Roadkill, with the utmost affection, as a harkening back to this time in my life).

The truth is that I’ve pulled myself out of the muck so many times, that I am a veritable wealth of information on the subject of falling down and getting back up again.

This these experience (s) informs literally every aspect of my current life path; it especially informs my coaching work.

A lot of my clients come to me fresh from hard times and I find myself offering them a lot of the same resources. It’s for this reason that I put together an infographic and road map – to help you navigate the murky waters of your psyche, the next time you should find yourself ensconced in a dark night of the soul.

nervous breakdown


Nervous Breakdown Roadmap:

* Get a therapist

I cannot over-stress the importance of this. There are a ton of resources for finding good counsel. Ask around – when I asked around, I found that 80% of the people that I talked to had a therapist and were more than willing to weigh-in on the subject. If you’re not comfortable asking around, check with your local Mental Health branch, with your employee extended benefits plan, or with your college or university campus.

* Go to your doctor

Your doctor will screen you for anxiety and/or depression.

If you are diagnosed as being depressed or anxious, this is not a sign of weakness. In fact, for me, having diagnoses was empowering and became the real beginning of my being able to heal. 

I was prescribed medication, which I took immediately and without hesitation (indeed, I clung to the time each day when I was able to take another pill).

Whether or not this is for you, I cannot say. I hope you will listen to your physician and also do your research. I was prescribed a low dose of Cipralex, and it became my lifeline. The way it was described to me was this: sometimes, after repeated trauma, your brain chemistry has time rebounding. Medication can help your brain to rebound. (Note: if you are a scientist and have better way of describing this, please comment below!)

(Cipralex required a six month taper when I was ready to come off it, and you should never stop taking antidepressants without the supervision of your physician.)

I’m happy to report that I’ve been medication free for several years now, but as our Spirit Animal, Elizabeth Gilbert says in Eat Pray Love (which I’m going to recommend that you read later on in the list),

“Could I have endured that time without the drugs, if I’d just held out a little longer? Could I have survived myself, by myself? I don’t know. That’s the thing about a human life – there’s no control group, no way to ever know how any of us would have turned out if any of the variables had been changed”

I don’t know either. But I do know that the medication I was prescribed helped me climb out of my darkest hole.


Some more stops along the way, once you have the medical side sorted out:

* Circle the wagons, call in the troops, summon your deities, and collect supporters

* Sleepover at your mom’s house 

Or a supportive friend, or a really lovely hotel

* Take leave from your job

Stress leave is a real thing.

Here in BC, there is real coverage for it. You’ll need the support of your physician and ongoing support from your mental health team, which is why it’s so crucial that you begin from that place. Talk to your employment services rep!

* Dial it down to the basics

Sleep, eat, nap, drink water. Take your pills. Go to therapy. Repeat. Temporarily eliminate anything that interferes with these basics.

* Get a massage

* Get a mani/pedi

* Go for a facial

* Go for Reiki

* Try acupuncture

* Attend a gentle yoga class

If you’re not feeling crowdish just yet, Kim Eng has a wonderful class that you can practice from home.

* Swim in a lake

* Go for a walk in the woods 

Dogs are a bonus

* Soak in a hot spring

* Take a day trip

* Eat ice cream

* Go to bed early

Repeat. Often.

* Keep taking your meds

* Keep going to therapy

* Journal

* Have a strong epsom salt bath

* Buy new sweatpants

* Get a haircut

* Pray

* Cry


* Call your funniest/most supportive friend

* Read:

Broken Open by Elizabeth Lessler

You Can Heal Your Life by Louise Hay

Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert

Untethered Soul by Michael Singer

Catastrophe Living by Jon Kabat Zinn

* Watch:

The Heat

Horrible Bosses

The Big Lebowski

Practical Magic

* Listen to:

Songs for the Inner Lover by Miten and Deva Premal

Diamonds in the Sun by Girish

1989 by Taylor Swift

Since U Been Gone by Kelly Clarkson (on repeat)

* Support your body

Take supplements. Go to a naturopath if you’re unfamiliar with vitamins. I take a B complex, C, D (the sunshine vitamin), E, Folic Acid, iron (because I tend to be anemic), krill oil (for neurological support), and a Calcium Magnesium (ideally before bed). If you’re having trouble sleeping, Melatonin is cool for some (it gives me fucky dreams so I don’t often take it).

* Meditate

Terrified of your own silence? Try Meditation Oasis. They have a wonderful, free podcast with guided meditations to ease you in gently.



Create a series of resources for yourself. Lean on your support team. Hire professionals.

Most importantly, remind yourself that this is something that you’re going through. This is not you. 

When I look back now at my toughest times, it’s not hard to recall how scary they were, or how shitty. I can tell you though, that who I grew into on the other side resembled who I wanted to be far more closely than the person I was going into them.

One day, if you can hang on, you too will know the glorious relief of enjoying the feel of sunshine on your face again. You will laugh again.

Maybe not today, but someday. 


You can do this. I know you can, because I’ve done it.


I love you,


Er xo


Let’s support each other:

First: Share this with your friends on social media. You never know who might need it.

Second: Comment below. Tell us your best resources for surviving (and even thriving) during the darkest nights.

***If you are having suicidal thoughts or thoughts of harming yourself or anyone else, it is imperative that you contact a mental health professional immediately. Do not pass go. Do not collect $200.***

Disclaimer: Please note that I am not a mental health professional and the information contained in this article is in no way intended to circumvent or replace any advice that you have received from your physician, psychiatrist, counsellor, therapist, or any other mental health professional. This is advice that is purely anecdotal, based on my own experience and is meant purely to compliment the advice of a competent professional. Do not proceed without contacting one, please. And please don’t sue me. 

Erin McDonald
Business Success Coach for Women Entrepreneurs at ClumsyGrace
Erin is an International Transformational Coach, obsessed with facilitating change in the lives of incredible, hilarious women. She's a Mama, wife, friend, sister, daughter, and cousin; a seeker (and occasional finder) of an authentic life in all its disastrous glory. She has a brave heart, believes in magic, loves tacos, and always wins at Whack-a-Mole
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About the author : Erin McDonald

Erin McDonald
Erin is an International Transformational Coach, obsessed with facilitating change in the lives of incredible, hilarious women. She's a Mama, wife, friend, sister, daughter, and cousin; a seeker (and occasional finder) of an authentic life in all its disastrous glory. She has a brave heart, believes in magic, loves tacos, and always wins at Whack-a-Mole