Why having a breakdown can be healthy

A positive breakdown

As we plunge into the colder weather and the longer nights, it’s easy for our minds to drift to darker places. A lot of us may find it a little bit harder to get out of bed or perhaps lack motivation, but somehow manage to keep going about our day to day lives. For others, the struggle is too immense and so they reach a point of breakdown, where it may seem impossible to recover from.

After years of stigmatisation, we have come to accept that having a breakdown is something that should be viewed with empathy, and in a lot of cases is. However, mental illness is seldom viewed as healthy. While the discourse surrounding breakdowns has dramatically improved, an empathic view on the matter suggests that a breakdown is something abnormal, or effectively unhealthy, which isn’t always the case.

For a lot of us, a breakdown is inevitable as mental illness may be a part of our genetic makeup, but for others, a breakdown can be a mental response to external forces that can vary from elements or struggles within a personal or professional life. Although both these forms of breakdowns can be unhealthy, they can also be considered healthy, particularly the breakdown triggered by external factors.

Despite our despair, as rational humans we ultimately accept the status quo of life, the mundanities of our capitalistic and corporate societies which keep us striving for more. We are conditioned to use education systems as a vehicle to prosperity rather than enlightenment, and to pick careers that serve our superficial and manufactured desires rather than our genuine passions.

Our bodies are conditioned and trained to follow the routines of labour as we are thrown into a system we have no say in and which often contradicts our most sincere selves. Careers, studies, and lifestyles demand more than we might be capable of giving, keeping the strive endless and the one conclusive thing we have been taught is that; people are disposable, and nobody is an exception.

Our purpose in life becomes obscure and the direction gets entangled as we are endlessly told to strive for more and that we alone are never enough. As the corporate world becomes more progressive in terms of mental illness, the concept of corporate mindfulness becomes more of a regular theme.

With the likes of the questionable corporate mindfulness, we are encouraged to put more pressure on ourselves to figure out why we aren’t doing so well, focusing more introspectively; as in the problem is ours and not due to any external forces, i.e. being overworked and underpaid.

When we hit the point of breakdown, it is seldom viewed as a healthy reaction. It might have taken years to get to this point, years of enduring life’s pressures and playing by the rules defined by others, but eventually our minds crack to these demands and decide – no more. For some of us, we may fall into a deep depression or perhaps develop an unfamiliar social anxiety, where we might not want to leave our bedroom or maybe we decide to quit our jobs. We may act different, isolating ourselves or becoming unusually outgoing, talking louder or quieter as we rebel from all expectations in a brief moment in time.

A breakdown is very rarely an indication of one’s failures, quite the opposite. A breakdown often is a healthy and natural expression of our true selves, not in the negative sense, but as humans and sentient beings. There comes a point in our lives where we want to break from the constraints of “normal life”. While we act in ways that might seem peculiar to others, our actions and reactions to this liberation from our stressors could actually be a brief moment of self-actualisation, when we realise our true values but accept the challenges and obstacles of life.

Although breakdowns can be healthy, the struggle associated should never be undermined. If you or someone you know needs help, please contact your doctor, or go to Pieta or Samaritans for further information.


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Dara Thornton
Dara Thornton

One comment

  1. Wish articles like this had been available when I was at college. Or anyone who could have understood at all the process you describe quite well.

    Who are you, exactly?

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