I watched a Youtube video by Russel Brand recently where he discusses this topic and I found it resonated with me.
No-body likes the word breakdown as it has such negative connotations with it. It is linked with mental health, not coping, not being yourself and being in a very bad way.
There is no doubt you are in a bad way and it effects your mental health and therefore you may not cope with the day to day things you used to be able too, but I argue that it does not mean you are not being yourself.
Russel says that in his very colourful life he has “shed many skins” he talks openly about having 5-6 breakdowns/breakthroughs and says that at first they seem and feel like a break down and over time are then recognised as a break through.
The mechanical definition of a Breakdown is: breakdowns could totally disrupt production.
Disrupt production is the key part. This is used in terms of a car or heavy machinery but I think this is pretty on point for a personal breakdown too. Once you’ve broken down, it definitely disrupts production. It effects the way you eat (more or less), whether you are active or not (can’t get out or have the energy), be creative or bring energy to your job or friends and family.
Back to the “not being yourself” part, I see it as the old/current you has been broken down. Like a wall that was built wonky, or stood on unstable foundations or was in need of serious maintenance, we would take the wall down to build it back up again.
Family and friends may not recognise this new behaviour as “being yourself” but I really believe it is the true self showing up after being suppressed for so long. It is begging you to listen and learn. There are lots of Psychological theories to back this up.
In Japan, when china breaks they repair the cracks with gold, this is known as Kintsugi. Therefore the object is stronger than before and represents embracing damage and change. Once the china has been repaired the weakest parts of it, now become the strongest and it shows there is real beauty in the painful parts.
The part that takes it from Breakdown to Breakthrough is when you recognise the parts of your life that have led you to it. You recognise them, accept them and then change them where necessary.
This is not easy, you have been a certain way or had certain habits and personality traits for as long as you remember, so removing them entirely is not easy. Some don’t need removing, but they need managing and maintenance.
Russel explains that by shedding his old skin, he was allowed to step into the person he really was. Without the breakdown, there would be no permanent change.
Sometimes it takes a big deal for big change. If there was no real consequence, there would be no incentive.
So what I want to get across is this is normal, millions of people go through a breakdown/breakthrough and make it out the other side. It is necessary for growth. Sit in the pain, accept it for what it is and trust that you have what it takes to feel happy, fulfilled and energised again. As the Buddha says “This too shall Pass”.