What is the appropriate response to a mental breakdown?
This is a repost from sometime in the year – May, feels so far and so close at the same time. Anyway, I feel like a good cry today so if you don’t mind, let’s
bawl over these words.
Break down! What a word!
Does it encompass all that goes through your mind while you nurse your mental health to full recovery? Will any word ever fully define what your mental state looks and feels like when it is ‘unhealthy’ and rebelling against ‘sound judgement’?
But those are not the questions I’m seeking to answer or pose today. I’m after the response to the breakdown.
Enter a good cry!
I’ve been known as a crier here at home. I don’t know if the perspective changed because I now want to do my crying in secret. And it’s not that they told me ‘don’t cry’. But just the way they said it made me think, I should get a handle on this. It makes people uncomfortable when you cry.
It makes people uncomfortable when you cry.
And I know how uncomfortable crying can be – you heave but can’t seem to be take in enough air, your eyes and nose run to paint a grotesque picture, if you cry hard enough, your hearing could desert you for a while and then you have to walk with red-rimmed eyes for a while. Crying is uncomfortable.
But sometimes, is necessary.
The first thing a healthy baby should do when they are born is cry. To help them breathe! I repeat that – to help them breathe. (At least that’s what my minimal science has told me.) To get their lungs working and take in air. And we are so relieved to hear that first cry then spend the rest of their lives trying to get them to keep quiet.
they we don’t need to get our breathing right once in a while.
But I get it. I have been around wailing children and you can read about that here. There are those moments when you just want them to stop. You would probably do anything; bribe them with what they want most, yell at them to get it together or try to change that expression of emotion into a need for sleep.
After a time, we all grow up with this idea that crying is inappropriate in public or otherwise. Get it together. Why are you crying? Forget that you do have a valid reason that would solicit tears from Hercules. We are uncomfortable around tears. Our own or others.
Tears become a sign of weakness and we never want to be associated with anything that could be considered weak! We frown at grown ups (and for this topic we’ll consider that to run from 5years and above) who cry whenever they feel like. We take them as spineless people because, yes, everybody is walking through their own untold mountains and oceans of pain. And if everyone decided to cry, we wouldn’t see the end of it.
I understand that sometimes we shush people up because we don’t know how to comfort. I don’t know how to comfort. I sometimes say those words that we hear repeated so much ‘Don’t cry. It will all get better’ when my honest response would be to sit through that crying with you. As silent as I can be. But this question of comfort only comes up when we are slapped with the full expression of someone’s pain. We don’t go around everyday prepping for when we need to comfort someone. Something unexpressed can never be met. This goes for most things in life; expectations, disappointments, affections and needs.
And crying is a perfect expression of pain. It lets whoever walks in on it know that you are not fine and that’s OK. And it takes the strain off the body to know that you don’t have to force it all together when they are slips.
Personally, I have found that a good cry let’s me take the time to clear my head and get lighter. Like the burden weighing on my head oozes out in those tears to leave a pressure I can work with (I really do feel much lighter after a good cry) and this frees up some head space for me to give the mess in my life another look, a somewhat clearer perspective since I have unprofessionally let go of those emotions that gave me no peace. I think after a good cry my mind is well aware that I acknowledged those feelings and reacted to them and in good time, I’ll let them go.
Are we so busy focusing on what we show the world that we ignore our own natural response to pain. Now, I’m not starting a ‘Go Cry Campaign’ and not every degree of pain warrants a full breakdown. (Yep there’s that word again.) What are the degrees of pain then? I see that question on the tip of your tongue. I don’t know. What I do know is that we have different levels of pain tolerance. What I cry about may never be what you cry about. And that’s OK. We are different after all.
This doesn’t solve the cracks in your mental health. You won’t magically get a better handle on those things that overwhelm your mind. But when you do need to, and I’m sure you will, this is your invitation to cry.
All I’m saying with this post (and now you are probably wondering why you had to read all that if all I had to say was a paragraph ;D), is that when your eyes tell you they are heavy, it’s perfectly fine to let it out once in a while. Even the rain falls once in a while…or a lot depending on the season. Cry it out, pour it out and move on.
Because it is comfortable for some people, know the circle you cry to. If you think you have got no one, you always have God. The Bible is full of verses that tell you it’s well and good if you cry to Him.