How to Safely Fall Apart


Falling apart can be scary. In order to do it right (i.e., pave the way for a healthy foundation) one must have a plan a sound plan to safely “fall apart”.

  1. Accept that you do not need permission to fall apart. You only need your own permission to not judge yourself and accept that you need to recharge.
  2. Make arrangements to stock your kitchen with healthy, soothing food that is easy to prepare. Stay hydrated. Take your meds and/or supplements.
  3. Set up your support system including therapists, primary care physicians, and limited family and/or friends. Have a plan for what you might do if you feel like you need help. Define what “in too deep” might be and decide on a very simple action item in response. Don’t try to figure that out once you’re in the middle of it all. Tell someone close to you what’s going on. Include a communication plan to let someone know you are OK from time to time, if you are going to be by yourself. Decide on limitations for phone, email, etc. so you can control interruptions to your solitude.
  4. Clear away any clutter in your environment. Maybe you clear only one room… Even if you have to haul it all into a few laundry baskets and stuff it in a closet, it’s better than watching it stare back at you as you feel worse about the clutter and anything/everything else that isn’t getting accomplished.
  5. Clear your schedule and only keep items related to your physical and mental health needs. Take care to not schedule too many appointments too close together. Use vacation and/or sick time if necessary and don’t feel guilty about it. The world will continue on while you’re taking care of yourself.
  6. Listen to your body. Decide whether or not you will exercise and accept your decision. If you do decide to exercise, keep it light and short and non-taxing. If you plan to exercise and change your mind, accept that it’s OK to listen to your body up front to avoid disappointment or unrealistic expectations.
  7. Avoid overwhelming yourself in all regards. Moderation, gentleness, and balance are the keys. Modifications may include sounds, smells, the presence of others (or lack thereof), and anything/everything that is in your environment.
  8. Give yourself permission to be healthfully indulgent to whatever extent possible. Sit in the bath for an hour. Walk 50 yards up the sidewalk. Sit on the porch. Look outside. Crack open a window. Come out of your bedroom. Brush your teeth. It all counts.
  9. Avoid the urge to clean, do laundry, or anything else that looks like work – unless it makes you feel good. Sometimes having a clean set of sheets on one’s bed can be worth the Herculean effort required. Better yet, put this on the list of help to request. [see below.]
  10. Ask for help, especially if you don’t think you need it. This is the time. There is no better time. It is also a good exercise in trusting someone to respect your boundaries and feelings. Keep the interaction as short or as long as you want, but ask for help. You decide what you can/want to tolerate within the context of asking for help. Define it and be clear. Explain to the person helping you that this is all you are asking for and that you will be as clear as possible about what you want. Avoid asking someone for help who is currently part of the problem. If you don’t have anyone to ask for help, be OK with that. However, try not to overlook someone who really cares about you and loves you and would be very happy to do a few things for you.

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