It doesn’t matter the mental illness
Do you have a mental illness? You could have anxiety or schizophrenia or any number of the other mental illnesses in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. When the feeling strikes that you have a decision to make with no idea what to do, it can be a scary thing. Your mental illness has formed a shroud over your head. You feel temporarily paralyzed.
For instance, anxiety disengages the part of the brain that is imperative to decision making. “Schizophrenia patients with prominent positive symptoms were unable to integrate cognitive and emotional components of decision making which may contribute to their inability to generate adaptive behaviours in social and individual environments.” (1) And we must not forget, bipolar disorder. With the various and numerous mood swings, they make it extremely difficult to nail down a decision. This is especially the case during manic episodes.
Symptoms of the inability to make a decision
- Brain fog;
- Unable to conjure up basic problem solving skills;
- The world does not turn to black and white. Everything is a muted gray so it makes it even more difficult to make a decision;
- Your brain is sawed in half;
- Your brain is asleep;
- Feel wrong making any decision or no decision;
- A heavy weight on you;
- Cannot function;
- Annoyed; and
How to overcome
- Make a list – When I need to make a big decision, I have been told to make a list ever since I was a teenager. Whenever I had a big decision to make like where to go to college, I got out a piece of paper and filled that paper until the lists were exhausted. Taking the time out of the very emotional experience of making a decision, helps to clear our minds, relax us, breathe and see the big picture.
- Cool down the emotions – Like I said before, being mentally ill and trying to make a decision is very emotional. Make a list of the emotions you would feel making each decision. Go to a quiet place and close your eyes. Feel the emotions drain out of you onto the floor. Relax. Once you relax, you can look at the situation in a different light and make a sound decision.
- Sleep on it – You probably heard someone say to “sleep on it”. My husband and I have done this with big purchases like a vehicle or a home. It is as if all the chemicals in your head got together and made a decision for you. Then, the next morning you feel confident in your decision.
- Tell the truth – This has happened to me lots of times where I get caught up in trying to make the decision and I lie to myself. Yes! All these previous suggestions can help you distinguish between the truth and a lie.
- Take your time – Some decisions can take a couple minutes, hours or days to make. If you have the time, take every second. Make your list, sleep on it. It will help you make a clearer choice.
- Talk it out – Find someone in your life whom you trust and has a history of making good decisions. Go talk to them. Take your pros and cons list. Discuss these items and hear what he or she has to say. Remember, their answer does not have to agree with yours in the end.
Call to Action
Share this information with a friend who has mental illness or share it with a friend who you know needs help making decisions.
Tell me how you make your decisions in the comments below. Or you may email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.