When Every Day is Groundhog Day: Strategy for Recovery

CompassionateLove Blog: Displaying compassion for those who struggle with mental illness  (c)2017  Nancy Virden, Always the Fight Ministry

Bill Murray is not the only person to feel helplessly trapped in a cycle not of his choosing. To some degree, as creatures of habit, we all repeat behaviors and thoughts. When these behaviors and thoughts hurt us, we can feel hopeless to change.

Murray’s character in the movie “Groundhog Day” (1993), is stuck in a 24-hour time warp. Each day starts exactly the same, and he has to make the best of a life that never reaches day number two.  His friendships are superficial because, let’s face it, people meet him for the first time every morning. Eventually, he learns power to improve his lot and relationships depends upon strategy .

Sound familiar? If you struggle with depression, anxiety, addiction, eating disorder, self-destructive behaviors or other mental and behavioral health challenges, your answer is yes.  You have endured long periods when nothing seemed to change, and you feared it never would. 

The answer for Bill Murray is the same for us. Strategy.

  1. Deal with the immediate.  1-800-273 TALK is the number to call if you are worried about suicidal thoughts. If suicidal ideas have become a threat, go to your nearest emergency room or call 911.  Do not wait!
  2. Consider looking to God for help. My power has never been enough; I need his loving support.  You can ask him to guide your steps too.  
  3. Next, reach out for human help. Talk to safe people (those who will not discourage or ridicule you). Tell a safe friend or family member that you are starting out on a new course and you want their support. Tell them specifically what support looks like to you. If this person is difficult to find, that’s ok! You will meet others along the way.
  4. Gather information. We have to admit we do not have the answers. If we did, our lives would be manageable, right? Check out the resources on this website. Look into NAMI.org or call 211, a first call for helpline. They will point you in the right direction.
  5. Find a licensed therapist or psychologist and get a diagnosis. A diagnosis is not a label stuck to your forehead that defines who you are. It is simply a guide for finding the best treatment options. If you go to your physician for flu symptoms, you want a diagnosis so you do not end up taking medicine for a toothache! The same process is true for mental health concerns. Just as you are not the flu, you are not depression, or anxiety, bipolar, schizophrenia, psychosis, or addiction. 
  6. If a psychiatrist is recommended, make that appointment. They are not shrinks, and they are most often not therapists. A psychiatrist is a medical doctor, a specialist in brain disorders. They will prescribe medication.
  7. Continue with the therapist or find someone you like better if need be. Talk therapy combined with medication is the treatment that works best for many people. It is also generally long-term. Those of us who have lived Murray’s Groundhog Day often need continued counseling to maintain a healthy mindset. 
  8. If a treatment center or any higher level of care is recommended, go.  Take advantage of it.
  9. Whether in talk therapy, under a psychiatrist’s care, or in a treatment center, work hard. This is your chance to escape Groundhog Day. What you have always known, always believed to be true about yourself and the world, how you have always thought, can be exposed and challenged. Is it true you are worthless? Is hopelessness a fact? Will you forever be a victim?

Hopelessness and worthlessness are illusions. Like all illusions, once they are exposed you can know how to protect yourself from the lie.  

Lat comment: Remember prayer. Jesus Christ gave up his life in heaven to make a way for us to know God personally. Confessing wrongdoing and surrendering to God’s process of healing lays the groundwork for a new forever. 

Today’s Helpful Word

Psalm 71: 1,2, 3a

In you, Lord, I have taken refuge; let me never be put to shame. In your righteousness, rescue me and deliver me; turn your ear to me and save me. Be my rock of refuge, to which I can always go…



NOTE: I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I speak only from personal experiences with and observations of mental illness. In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental health care.

If you are struggling emotionally today or feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Hope and help is yours.

 *pictures from rgbstock.com

¹Martin L, Williams S, Haskard K, DiMatteo MR.  The Challenge of Patient Adherence. Ther Clin Risk Manag. 2005 Sep; 1(3): 189–199. Published online 2005 Sep. Retrieved on January 8, 2017 from  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1661624/

²Mental Health Treatment. Mental Health America. Retrieved on January 21, 2017 from http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/types-mental-health-treatments

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