How do you handle the hard times when every coping mechanism has failed?

Interested to know how others handle the times when you have used up all of your emergency coping mechanisms and medications and finally conclude that you just can’t cope alone any more. I hit the wall last week and am managing hour by hour, without much sleep. My doctor has a knee-jerk ‘get thee to a hospital’ approach that feels like the ultimate failure. I keep thinking if I can just hang on my mood will change and all will be well. Any thoughts?


Aside from trying new coping mechanisms and reaching out to a friend/loved one who can help you through your difficult time, there isn’t a whole lot more that you can do besides ‘get thee to a hospital’. However … going to the hospital is NOT the ultimate failure. I believe that a person who can look at themselves and say, “I just can’t do this on my own anymore.” and have the guts to seek help and/or hospitalization is anything BUT a failure.

Now this is coming from someone who’s been hospitalized however. Something I’d NEVER thought would happen to me. I had things under control, despite the fact that everything was falling apart. I just needed some extra time to sleep and think. I knew I’d pull out of it. Hospitals are for people who belong in padded rooms aren’t they?!?! No way I’m going to go there.

But the fact of the matter was, I had no control over anything. Sleeping only made me want to sleep more because I’d rather sit in my cozy dreams where my life wasn’t falling apart than actually face reality. And I wasn’t pulling out of it. I was falling deeper into it. If I let it go much further, you might as well fashion me a straight coat and forward my mail to that padded room.

So finally, despite all the negative feelings I had toward mental hospitals, despite all the shame I was feeling, despite the fear that I was only letting myself become more of a failure than I already was, I packed my suit case … I walked right past my husband without saying a word … I got in the car and drove … I picked up my phone and called the hospital to tell them I was on my way … and I checked myself in.

That my friend, was not failure … that was courage! (Regardless of how much if felt like anything but at the time.)

I’m happy to report that there were no padded rooms where I stayed. Everyone was there for different reasons, yet at the same time had one common similarity; They just couldn’t do it on their own anymore. All else had failed and they had no clue where else to turn to. So there I was, surrounded by a group of people who knew what I was going through. And these people were not by any means failures.

Some were successful business men who’d lost their jobs. Others were soccer moms who just couldn’t cope anymore. Of course there were others who’d been through much worse than what I’d gone through, but that did not make me any less of a failure than them. Though in my book it did make them more courageous than me.

Though it took me months to realize it, checking myself into the hospital was the best thing I ever did for myself. I got round the clock assistance, built friendships with people who understood me, and had doctors there who could talk with me for more than just my allotted 45 minute session. I learned new coping mechanisms. I had time to reflect upon what was happening in my life and realized there are others who have it much worse. And I was able to start healing. And let me tell ya, healing feels SO good.

If I had to be honest, every time I get into a low spot where I feel life crumbling down, it’s hard to talk myself out of going back to the hospital. And I’m sure many of those who have been there will agree. Because there I felt safe. There I didn’t have to worry about the ever day tasks in life. There it was just me.

Now I’m not saying you HAVE to go to the hospital. I’m just saying, if all else fails and there is nothing more that you can do, do not dismiss it because you think you’ll be a failure if you go. Consider the courage it shows to be able to admit that you are out of options and need help. And goodness knows we all need help sometimes. I mean my 5 yo can try and try to tie his shoes hoping that it will magically happen, but the truth is … he can’t. He doesn’t know how yet. He needs help. Does that make him a failure? Absolutely not!

I hope you have been able to get the help you need and work through your rough times. My thoughts and prayers are with you and if you ever need to talk you know where to find me!

One thought on “How do you handle the hard times when every coping mechanism has failed?

  1. Thank you Marybeth for such an honest very open answer. Your hospitalization experience almost mirrors my 2nd hospitalization. I checked myself in voluntarily because I knew I was very close to another suicide attempt and didn’t feel safe. My 1st hospital stay was under a 5150 & I was only kept the 72 hrs. It was definitely a good thing because that’s where I was diagnosed correctly as bipolar. My 2nd stay was almost 6 wks! I sure needed it. I’d let myself decompensate way too far. It’s proven that each severe relapse makes it that much more difficult to reach stabilization. I felt safe & taken care of in the hospital, and like you, I could focus just on myself.
    I tell my Pt’s that all the time when they are so upset about being in the hospital. My favorite saying is “there could be by far much worse places you could be & this could be a life changing experience!” Usually by the end of their stay many will come and tell me I was right.
    So for anyone who thinks that hospitals are for losers… couldn’t be farther from the truth if you tried. People who go to the hospital show tremendous courage by doing the the right thing for themselves no matter how hard it can be.

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