Mental Breakdowns and Happiness- Why you don’t have to be scared of your tears

I remember the first time I realized that a “mental breakdown” could have a positive impact on my mood..

I had just left my little brother’s high school graduation ceremony and was feeling especially…crappy. My whole life I just wanted to be normal: to live in a normal house for a long period of time, to be well-liked, to be well-adjusted, and to have opportunities that the American Dream promises- a bright future. By the time I had gotten to my high school graduation, I had done more than my fair share of drugs, drove recklessly, and didn’t give a single, solitary shit about myself. I had plans to party really hard on my graduation night. I wasn’t worried about what university I was going to, or what I was going to study. I wanted to get really, really messed up. 

What I saw in my little brother was…excitement and confidence in his future. He has a good head on his shoulders and his parents trusted him enough to let him leave on his graduation night and to just…..go out. My mom waved reluctantly as I drove off in her car, ready to make the night my bitch. My happiness came at the cost of my parent’s peace-of-mind and I never understood what exactly that meant.

When I realized that my younger, half-brother and I were two very different people at his age, I had a little bit of a jealous, angry melt down. Looking back after a few months, it’s clear to me that my brother has probably earned that trust and that my assumptions were premature. During that time though, all I could do was be resentful over how different our lives had been and later that night, I had a breakdown worthy of reality TV. I was lucky enough to have a girlfriend that gave me a shoulder to cry on. I was sweaty, make-up smeared, and overwhelmed. I had a cry session in my vehicle prior to getting to her house and luckily was done with most of my ugly crying and incomprehensible sobs of despair.

I sat there with my friend and told her about how I was so done with how hard life was. “Will it always going be this hard?” I asked her. In that moment I couldn’t deal with the way life always seemed to be an uphill battle. I have struggled my whole life and it felt like there was no light at the end of the tunnel. Would I be poor forever? Will I always have to fight against my natural instinct to quit? Will I always struggle to find love for myself? There was so much struggle involved with just getting through the day and making ends meet. I had seen everyone in my family do the same thing my entire life and in that moment, I just couldn’t deal. I couldn’t handle the imagined weight of a fruitless future.

What happened next was even crazier.

My friend began to cry as well. She began to open up about her struggles and the things in her life that were overwhelming her. She released all of her stuff too. In that moment, I got the opportunity to listen to someone else and to lend my listening ear that she was probably craving. I was able to provide another person comfort when they needed it. Looking back, the event was pretty well-rounded: I was able to release and to give. To stop, liberate myself from negative feelings and later, proceed with my life. I was also shown that I was not the only one with problems.

In that moment, I guess you could say I was living in fear and guilt. Fear of my future and guilt over my past. What I wasn’t doing was enjoying the fruits of the labor that I had already put in and reminding myself that there is this thing called the “in-between” which is all the stuff that happens after you start and before you reach your goals. I wasn’t thinking about time being an essential ingredient in the process and I sure as hell was not aware that it was okay to not have “arrived” yet.

That’s where this mental breakdown comes in

Looking at it in hindsight, it was an essential part to my process. I got overwhelmed. Getting overwhelmed happens when you make changes and slowly but surely become more successful. This newfound success feels crazy and good and sometimes that’s scary. I’m one of those people that, when things get good, I start to fear the loss of it. For obvious reasons that is stealing the joy out of the good thing that is happening. I also get overwhelmed when there is a lot of change happening. Even if it is good change, the uncertainty makes it scary. I’m convinced that every human gets overwhelmed even with all the effort one can put in to “having their shit together”

When I release all of that fear, guilt, and anxiety in a mental breakdown, I’m able to begin again the next day. Typically, I have a new resolve and I am still on my path. Had I bottled all of that in, who knows where it would go? I would explode in anger on an unsuspecting  and (very likely) undeserving victim or drive like a maniac and get in a bad accident, or have sex with a weird guy that’s vegan and wears sandals made out of leaves. With all of that in mind, why not just allow myself the breakdown?

I’ve come to understand the necessity of these breakdowns and the beauty of allowing yourself to be human, to have feelings, and to momentarily show that you do not, in fact, have all of your shit together all of the time.

 

With love,

 

The Curvy Broke Girl

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