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Overcoming a Nervous Breakdown

The definition of a nervous breakdown is a period of mental illness resulting from severe depression, stress, or anxiety. This condition manifests itself primarily as severe stress-induced depression, anxiety or dissociation in a previously functioning individual. If these symptoms continue without any sort of intervention, the afflicted are no longer able to function on a day-to-day basis until this disorder is cured.  During a long cross country practice in high school, I had my own breakdown while running up a hill.

Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done and how he had slain all the prophets [of Baal] with the sword. Then Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah, saying, So let the gods do to me, and more also, if I make not your life as the life of one of them by this time tomorrow. Then he was afraid and arose and went for his life and came to Beersheba of Judah [over eighty miles, and out of Jezebel’s realm] and left his servant there. But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness and came and sat down under a lone broom or juniper tree and asked that he might die. He said, It is enough; now, O Lord, take away my life; for I am no better than my fathers, 1 Kings 19:1-4.

A mental breakdown is defined by its temporary nature, often closely tied to psychological burnout, severe overwork, sleep deprivation and similar stressors. In the passage above, an Old Testament prophet wasn’t prepared for the revenge sought by Queen Jezebel. After defeating the prophets of Asherah and Baal on Mount Carmel, Elijah may have become over confident, 1 Kings 18:38-40. If I successfully called fire to come down from heaven following a prayer like Elijah, I would feel invincible.

As he lay asleep under the broom or juniper tree, behold, an angel touched him and said to him, Arise and eat. He looked, and behold, there was a cake baked on the coals, and a bottle of water at his head. And he ate and drank and lay down again. The angel of the Lord came the second time and touched him and said, Arise and eat, for the journey is too great for you. So he arose and ate and drank, and went in the strength of that food forty days and nights to Horeb, the mount of God, 1 Kings 19:5-8.

Unfortunately, only God knows the future. Thus, when your suffer a surprising defeat, shocking failure or a humiliating lose, it takes time to recover. If a life is lost or a job terminated, the recovery time is often extended to months and years to feel normal again. This is when you need to retreat like Elijah to quiet place, to be still before God, 1 Kings 19:11-13. While the healing process will vary, this is the first step toward overcoming a nervous breakdown.

by Jay Mankus


Watching sports on high definition televisions can create a front row atmosphere, experiencing the thrill of victory and agony of defeat as if you are in attendance.  Amazing upsets like the 1980 U.S. Hockey team stunning the U.S.S.R. in the semi-finals of the Olympics brought you inside the Lake Placid arena.  Americans celebrated in the streets as if they were on the winning team, uniting a nation during the Cold War.  This is how I felt yesterday, as I watched Phil Mickelson do the unthinkable, shooting a final round 66, 5 under par in extreme conditions, to win his first Open Championship and 5th major overall.

1 day ago
One month after failing to win the United States Open, finishing second to Justin Rose for a record 6th time in this event, Phil reached a career low.  According to his wife Amy, Phil didn’t get out of bed for 2 days, crushed by another disappointing loss.  Based upon her interview on the Golf Channel and ESPN, Phil suffered from a severe depression similar to that of David in Psalm 32:3-4.  While a family vacation to Montana did the trick for Phil, sensing the grace, forgiveness and reconciliation of God fulfills a sinners heart.

According to the dictionary, perseverance means “to be steadfast in doing something despite any difficulties or delays in achieving success”.  Whether you are an athlete, businessman, student or writer, failure, rejection and setbacks are par for the course.  Reaching your dreams and goals in life is not a walk in the park.  Rather, one should expect to face mountains, obstacles and valleys to pass before you experience the summit of success.  Therefore, if you have recently endured a heart breaking loss, don’t waste another day pouting.  Instead, get up from the ground, say a prayer like Psalm 4:1 and ask God for a spirit of tenacity to achieve the abundant life, John 10:10.  In doing this, may you be ful-phil-ed.

by Jay Mankus

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