1. Cry. Cry. Cry. You need to cry (or scream or shout, anything physical) to get your emotions out there. If you don't get the first wave of emotions out, everything will pile up, and you'll have so many emotions you won't know what to do with them all. So yes, my first piece of advice is to cry until you can cry no more. I cried every few hours for three days, then just when I was alone, then just at night times. I needed to cry, without the crying I would have caused even more harm to myself than I already was.
2. Accept that people won't know what to do while you're crying/screaming/hyperventilating/all of the above at the same time. Some people will disappear during this time, and trust me, the indentities of the ones who disappear will surprise you. Some people have avoided me for weeks now whom I've been close with for years. Yet some of the people who have been there for me every day I hardly knew before this happened. A quote I've been remembering a lot is 'if they can't be there for you at your worst they don't deserve you at your best.' And it's true.
3. Some 'simple' things will be hard for a while, but that's okay. I haven't opened the text message app on my phone for a month now, where as before I was a texting addict. You need to do, or not do, what you can. You don't want to do something? Don't do it. The need and ability to do these things will come back. For a week post-breakdown I barely slept or ate. A few weeks down the line I'm still not eating quite like I was, and sleeping is easier but still a nightly battle. Which brings me to 4...
4. Sleep, if you can. The one sleeping tip I have for you is don't go to bed until you're actually tired. Your bed may be the softest, most beautiful place of comfort for you during the good times but when it's 2am and you're unable to sleep during a bad patch the bed suddenly becomes a cold, dark, hard place of nightmares and uncontrollable thoughts while you're trying to drift off. Try not to properly get in to bed until you can barely keep your eyes open. Do whatever you want to do, read, message friends, watch a film, paint your nails, anything. Try and minimise the time you spend doing nothing.
5. Leave the house. Even during the good times before, I could easily go days without leaving the house and not question it. During The Breakdown and after, I have left the house every day. I go anywhere, to the supermarket, a walk with my niece, my sisters house, the cemetery (where my grandad is buried, I didn't stroll around a random cemetery but hey, if that works for you then you go). I went out in the rain, wind, sun, any weather. It broke up part of the day and I'm sure there's some scientific explanation somewhere about a Vitamin D and being outside and feeling better as well, I'll have to look that up.
6. Distract yourself. It took me a while to work out what distracted me. I'm a big fan of colouring books, and colouring is a brilliant form of distraction. You're using your brain to chose the colours and where to put them, and using your hands to actually put pencil to paper. I also play The Sims a lot as well (I know, I know, please don't laugh), and I can easily lose myself for a while in building a house or something. When all else fails and my brain is really busy I have resorted to watching films. Not happy films though mind you. Zombie films, apocalypse films, alien invasion movies. How ever if you're struggling badly with anxiety this might not be the best thing to suggest for you. One of my fear triggers is ghosts and the paranormal, so I've avoided those type of films. Find something that absorbs your mind and keep doing it.
7. Lastly. Ask for help. I'm lucky that my mum and sister are incredibly strong women who were able to be there for me during this. If you have people around who are anything like them, you will be okay and you should make sure your cherish them. I also had to seek a medical intervention during The Breakdown though, like many other people have, and will continue to do as well. It's hard to get a doctors surgery to understand the importance of mental health so you really need to be quite forceful with them. A day after The Breakdown and I was already in the doctors surgery being given medication and referrals for the things I needed.
Please, if anyone is reading this and feels like I do or have done, please please PLEASE seek out some help, from where ever you can.
Like I said, these are just things are helping me right now. These things could change tomorrow, next week, next month or they might be things that work forever. And remember I am still in a bad place. I'm saying what makes me feel like I can live through the day, not necessarily what makes me feel better or 'normal'. I know some of these points are followed by an element of pessimism, and that shows how much more time and help I still need. Working out these points however is a big step in learning to cope.