Things “To Do” and “Not To Do” When You’re Spiraling

My phone has been giving me a hard time lately, so I haven’t been able to get on here to write. It wasn’t allowing me to access apps or even call and text people. I’ve gotten it fixed but I do need to get an upgrade.

Aside from that, I’ve also just been playing Sims 4 🤣 It’s been helpful for my anxiety and has kept my brain occupied, but also takes me away from doing anything productive. I’m doing my best to divide my time with playing games and being an adult LOL

One thing I wanted to come on here to talk about are ways to help your partner understand your mental health struggles. I know my guy has a difficult time understanding how to respond or react when I spiral or become overwhelmed. He means well, but more than half of the time, he does make it worse. Additionally, I have a hard time speaking and making sense or not becoming angry due to some of the reasons below. This list helps both of us.

This was something my therapist recommended and I ran with it. It’s been difficult for my husband and I to communicate effectively, yet he thinks everything is fine. During my spirals, I can’t communicate coherently and rationally, yet he wants to constantly talk about it. He also becomes insecure and asks if I still love him or tries to hug me. These are just a few of the numerous examples of things “not to do” when someone is spiraling.

She recommended making a list of things “To Do” and “Not To Do” when I’m becoming depressed or overwhelmed and can’t communicate. Instead of trying to speak, I just hand him the list. This acts as a guide for him. There are also a few examples of “Things To Say” on my handwritten piece of paper.

My therapist and I joked that if someone who doesn’t have depression or anxiety reads my list, they will probably think I’m an asshole. However, keep in mind that, as my therapist and psychiatrist said, my depression is fatal and this is only during those moments I can’t take it anymore. Under normal circumstances, he obviously is allowed to have opinions and talk about himself or his interests. I’m not trying to change him as an individual, I’m just trying to guide him during those pivotal moments where I feel like I’m ruining everyone’s life and people would be better off without me.

Regardless of what some people might say about me, I’m going to share my list with you. These bullet points are personalized for my relationship, based on things that relate to conversations we’ve had or things he has done during one of my episodes. Many of these also correlate with my fear or aversion towards intimacy. You may also find that a lot of these bullet points are similar or overlap, but that’s because I really wanted to stress the point.

You can create your own list based on what you want people to do/say or not do/say when you are spiraling. Keep in mind that you can always alter to your list.

Things Not To Do

  • Try to get close to me or touch me.
  • Try to use logic or reasoning to explain the situation.
  • Try to talk about how I’m feeling, why I’m feeling it or offer advice.
  • Try to make me laugh or change the subject.
  • Try to get me to do something else or distract me.
  • Ask me questions, especially about yourself, the relationship or intimacy.
  • Try to bring up intimacy at all or say, “I love you” or ask if I still love you.
  • Talk about your feelings or say things like, “I can’t change who I am or what I believe.”
  • Look upset and tell me everything is fine because it’ll only make me feel worse and affirm the fact that I’m ruining everyone’s life and that everyone is better without me here.
  • Not agree with me or say “You don’t know what to do or how to help.” Just pretend. I know I’m being illogical or not making sense, but I just want affirmation and someone not trying to tell me what they think I should be doing or how I should act.
  • Don’t force me to continue speaking or telling me to share my emotions. If I don’t want to say anything else or say that, “I don’t know what to say,” just let it go.

Things To Do

  • Give me space. You can stay in the room if I come to you, but let me curl in my own ball, hold myself and cry. Don’t try to force me to come to you.
  • You can play music, like you did that one time, as long as it’s not classical or instrumental. Preferably SHINee, Jonghyun or Linkin Park.
  • If I come to you upset, that was really difficult for me to do, so don’t try to hug me, hold me or touch me. Please don’t speak, just listen.
  • Let me cry, but don’t try to hold me or touch me.
  • Silently sit there and actively listen. Don’t say anything unless I directly ask you a question or look for affirmation. However, make sure that if I do ask you a question or look for affirmation, that your response is gentle and reassuring regardless. Just pretend to understand, even if you don’t. I know you don’t get it but, in that moment, I just want you to agree with me and give me reassurance. Put your pride and beliefs aside. I just want to be heard and feel validated.
  • If I go into a room by myself and don’t ask for you to follow, just let me go. Or if I go on a walk to clear my head, let me and don’t try to stop me “to talk.”
  • Let me cry and vent. Whatever I’m talking about will help me, even if it’s talking about suicide. Please don’t tell me not to talk about it because keeping those thoughts inside my own head is going to cause more damage.
  • When I’m venting, don’t say anything or offer advice. Silence is key.

Things To Say

If you don’t know what to say, please don’t tell me that and sit there in silence looking at the ground. Here are some simple examples of things you can say in those moments.

  • “It’s okay.”
  • “I understand.”
  • “You can tell me more if you want to.”
  • “Wow, that sounds hard.”
  • “That must be difficult.”
  • “I’m really sorry that happened/I’m so sorry you feel that way.”

My therapist also suggested writing down what I’m thinking when I’m spiraling. That has been difficult because my brain is in overload and I become so overwhelmed with emotions that I think I might explode. However, if I can capture some of those thoughts, I also want to give that list to my husband so that he has a glimpse of what’s going on in my head during those moments. This might help him to understand even more.

4 thoughts on “Things “To Do” and “Not To Do” When You’re Spiraling

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