We live in a world where everyone is always trying to keep it together. Our appearance, attitudes, bank accounts, and lifestyles are massive factors in how society views us. We are constantly pressured to be “on,” leaving little to no room to fall apart. Family, friends, and jobs are always relying on us, making the pressures to perform incredibly high.
As we’ve all experienced, life is not simply made up of a bunch of highs. The lows come roaring in sometimes when you least expect it. Life doesn’t allow us time to deal with troubles, physically, mentally, or emotionally, leaving us frantic as we try to put the puzzle pieces back together.
But can you imagine if we were “allowed” to break down? What if we lost control and everyone around us let it happen? We might find resolve much sooner, since, in real life, we find ourselves pushing away the inevitable, as the storm slowly accumulates inside until it hits you that much harder in the face later on.
The School of Life released a video that brings new light to breakdowns. Called “The Sanity of Madness,” it exposes the trouble with having to be on your game all the time. No matter how little sleep we get or what problems at home we are having, mental blockages we are experiencing, or health concerns are bogging us down, we are told we must be at work on time, with our presentation ready, with no excuses given, and a smile slapped on our pretty little faces. It can create a vicious cycle; one filled with energy drinks to wake up, sedatives to calm down, routines lacking time for exercise, home-cooked healthy meals, and sleep, and too much attention given to computer screens.
The video points to the seemingly obvious but the easily forgotten: “No good life can or should go by without a few quite open incidents of complete breakdown. Moments when we pull up a white flag and declare ourselves simply unable to cope or fulfill any of our normal functions for a time.”
When these breakdowns happen, those around us, whether it be colleagues, friends, family, or complete strangers, might think we’ve gone insane; that we have some sort of illness. But the video says it should be seen as a sign of normality and health.
Breakdowns can vary depending on the person and the circumstances. It could be as passive as lying in bed, staring at the ceiling for a long time, unusually babbling on to anyone who will listen about out-of-the-box feelings or ideas, wearing strange clothes, breaking out in dance, shouting at the top of our lungs, letting fits of laughter overcome us, making new friends that don’t seem to fit our lifestyles, and traveling to faraway destinations. We should be able to tolerate these phases, not freak out over them. “We allow our bodies to have moments of breakdown and rest. We should allow similar moments for our minds,” the video points out.
Another thought The School of Life brings up is that we need moments of madness as a corrective for the way we view ourselves in the world: puppets meant to make a certain amount of money by working ourselves to the bone, toxic media clips that brainwash us into believing we should, look, act, and feel a certain way or else we are not worthy of attention or love.
The emphasis should be on how to have a “good” mental breakdown, the video suggests. This entails doing things that help us to reconnect with valuable truths that our ordinary lives are preventing us from understanding. These include: sexual exploration, creativity, contact with our bodies, empathy, a new kind of self-knowledge. “The idea is that we should return from the land of madness and plant in the fields of apparent sanity a lot of pretty valuable seeds that can bear fruit and sustain us,” the video continues. “We are not automatons, but highly complicated, volatile collections of proteins that needs careful and sympathetic administration. We should expect that periods of madness just do belong to every wise and good life.”
View the video below for yourself, and simply take a deep breath and come to terms with the idea that sometimes we have to disconnect to reconnect.