Living on the Brink (of Insanity)

by Sierra September 7 months ago in coping

What it means to live on the brink of insanity, fighting for your freedom, day after day

Living on the Brink (of Insanity)
Photo by Ricardo Gomez Angel on Unsplash

Hello everyone. After long contemplation and a lot of self-analysis I have finally decided to present, in full detail, my personal experience of living on the brink of insanity. Before we get into the How's and the Why's, I want to talk about what the brink of insanity is.

The Brink of Insanity

What is the brink of insanity? The brink of insanity is when you are in that place where you understand that your worries and fears are irrational but you feel them anyway; you know that your anger and paranoia are misplaced, but you can't help your reactions to the extent that you'd like; you make mistakes and take them severely to heart, because you want to be a better person even though sometimes it feels like you're incapable. The brink of insanity is simply when you understand your shortcomings but you can't always control them.

You constantly feel yourself slipping.

Picture a precipice. On the flat plain you have a forest, or maybe a village (however you picture it yourself), and to simply walk away from that steep drop you can live a happy, normal and confident life—knowing your decisions will always be made rationally and with only conscious fault of your own. On the other end, you have that deep, black drop into the abyss of your shortcomings.

Some things that can be found here:

  • Anxiety, depression, stress, and paranoia
  • Anger, bottled frustration, and envy
  • Self-centeredness and narcissism (narcissistic tendencies)
  • and so on

Now, picture that for whatever reason you can't move from the edge of that black nothingness. You're mere millimeters from falling in, and the stench of the darker parts of your inner consciousness drift into your nose like a sickly sweet burning of bad potpourri.

For me, there are two main reasons: First, I'm simply dumbstruck by fear of losing control and constantly feeling myself slipping down and trying to drag myself back up. Secondly, what calls to me from the deepest darks of myself is almost hellishly enticing. Sometimes it's hard not to give in to your temptations, and who knows your temptations better than the inner you?

This is where I internally stand every day, hoping that today I can move just a little farther away from that awful place. But everyday I end in the same place I began. It's a constant struggle, and I know I don't face this struggle alone.

My Personal Insanity Index

To truly understand if this blog will help you to understand yourself, your thought processes, and if the advice I have to give will help you, you should know a little about me and my experiences on a somewhat personal level.

As a student of psychology and neurology (pre-med), I understand that to truly believe that someone can relate to your experiences in life and to believe that their advice will work for you, you first should know something about them to connect with them on a deeper level. I'm more than happy to oblige.

Growing up I was raised by someone who suffers from paranoid schizophrenia (which had not been diagnosed at that point) and someone who suffers from severe depression, mild psychopathy, and Munchausen syndrome by proxy. Needless to say, I grew up with a pretty distorted version of reality and an array of mental and emotional scars.

I won't get into my life experiences, but I will tell you that it was one traumatic experience after another from the time I was three until the time I was fifteen. By then, I was completely self-destructive and began creating my own trauma.

I spent six years as an addict and jumping from one bad decision to another. Most of my family had given up hope that I would be anything other than what I already had been grooming myself into. Miraculously, I shaped up at the age of 22, after the birth of my second child, and have been building up from there.

Coupled with this, I had been diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) at the age of 10, and CPTSD (chronic posttraumatic stress disorder) at 17. I developed social anxiety disorder at the age of 21, after having been "locked away" by an abusive partner. When I say locked away, I simply mean being unable to have communication with anyone whatsoever or they'd make your life a living hell.

It's been a huge struggle to learn how to live, as I hope you can imagine.

The stress in my life didn't abate any, really, until I turned 25. It's just now starting to put itself back together.

I'm sure you can also imagine my immense shame and embarrassment when it comes to my peers and how they live vs how I live. Even though I have worked and tried to force myself to stop caring, to stop worrying, to stop wondering and assuming, it still is there. And, social pressure will probably always be there for all of us to one extent or another. The only thing we can do is get used to it.

At the age of 25 I am a mother, a caregiver, a nanny, a sister, a daughter, a friend, a counselor, a housekeeper, and a teacher (among other things) to a household of five people. And, most of the time, I really don't mind the responsibility. In fact, if I could totally control my insanity, I'd be perfectly content with it. I enjoy taking care of others and helping them solve their problems. I enjoy cleaning and teaching.

However, I'm only one person—and a person not completely used to normal, everyday responsibilities yet to be completely honest with myself—and that amount of tasks has a tendency to burn you out after a while.

How Does One get to the Brink?

Photo by Ehimetalor Unuabona on Unsplash

Speaking purely hypothetically—which is really all one can do on a case such as this—I think that it takes a lot of self-reflection, determination, strength and courage to get to the brink. And no, that is not me tooting my own horn.

You can only be on that brink if you understand your own thought process to the extent of understanding what you're doing while you're doing it and why (or figuring it out as the situation is unfolding). I think that's what causes the brink of insanity and makes it so dangerous.

Psychopaths, for example, have a very good understanding of their own thought processes (seemingly superior to normal individuals). Perhaps the brink is similar to that.

Insanity, in its technical terms, is acting in the same way over and over again but expecting a different result. So, what if there was an individual who understood that their actions wouldn't produce different results but there was a part of them compelled to act on it anyway in the hopes that it might?

This has made many a genius and many a fool over the years of history.


If you've gotten this far, I'm assuming that you've decided that you might feel some similarities between you and myself, and that you're probably looking for some advice now that you've decided you, too, are on the brink of insanity.

However, there are so many different facets to this—the intense feeling and reactions from emotions both good and bad (and how to deal with all those separately and differently), the thinking processes, the reactional responses, etc.—that I couldn't give you all the tools necessary to work on every problem even if I wanted to!

But how does the tree grow on the edge of the cliff?

Photo by Yuliya Kosolapova on Unsplash

To answer this, I will provide some pointers and broad advice that I hope you will find helpful. Be sure to check back each week for new topics on self-help and mental health. I will also be sure to try to cover as many facets of the brink of insanity, in detail, as I can.

1. Take massive amounts of time for introspection for a while. When you begin trying to understand your own thought processes and ideals and motivators, it can be frustrating. Especially when you truly believe that you understand yourself. But, until you take the time to analyze yourself, you'll never actually know if what you know is true, or just what someone else told you is true.

2. Attempt self-calming measures when you can. When you feel yourself start to slip into that negative behavior and want to stop it, try and find something that will completely distract your mind. For me (and it doesn't work 100% of the time, so don't disappoint yourself by expecting perfection), it helps to close my eyes, take a deep breath, and visualize one of my kids favorite television shows from PBS Kids.

As silly as this sounds, it really helps me to visualize what my children want, need and expect, and to take lessons from Caillou, Daniel Tiger, or even Curious George really isn't all that bad of a thing.

3. When it gets to be too much, force yourself out of the situation. When you're starting to feel out of control, you need to force your way out of whatever situation you're in. For example, when I get overwhelmed my ears feel boxed, my vision gets blurry, my body tenses up, all the noise around me blends together, and my brain feels like it's stuttering or shaking. When I feel that coming on (which took me months of tracking before I could identify the warning signs) I know it's time to take a minute.

It helps to have someone you love and trust that you can turn to in these times. Whether it's a code word or a simple glance over, it's good to have someone on your side—though, not necessary. Try asking trusted family and friends if they would be willing to help you in those times and have your back.

They can make sure no one bothers you or they can follow you and be a shoulder to lean on while you're exhausted or a person who will listen to you vent and yell without judgement (it also helps if they can understand that most of what you're saying you don't mean if you're one of those people).

This is the only advice I can give you for now without getting into the smaller, more distinct and detailed characteristics.

I hope you found this helpful—even a little. I'm always eager to hear fan success stories and opinions on what I can do better to help/topic suggestions, so feel free to email me at [email protected]

Happy Self-Care <3

Sierra September
Sierra September
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Sierra September
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