One of the great problems of human beings is
that we’re far too good at keeping going.
We’re experts at surrendering to the demands of the external world,
living up to what is expected of us
and getting on with the priorities as others around us define them.
We keep showing up and being an excellent boy or girl
and we can pull this magical feat off for up to decades at a time,
without so much as an outward twitch or crack.
Until, suddenly, one day,
直到 有一天 突然地
much to everyone’s surprise, including our own,
The rupture can take many forms.
We can no longer get out bed.
We fall into a catatonic depression.
We develop all-consuming social anxiety.
We refuse to eat.
We babble incoherently.
We lose command over part of our body.
We are compelled to do something extremely scandalous
and entirely contrary to our normal selves.
We become wholly paranoid in a given area.
We refuse to play by the usual rules in our relationship,
we have an affair, ramp up the fighting –
or otherwise poke a very large stick in the wheels of day-to-day life.
Breakdowns are hugely inconvenient for everyone
and so, unsurprisingly, there is an immediate rush to medicalise the problem
所以 毋庸置疑 尽快就医
and attempt to excise it from the scene
so that business as usual can restart.
But this is to misunderstand what is going on when we break down.
A breakdown is not merely a random piece of madness or malfunction,
it is a very real,
albeit very inarticulate, bid for health.
It is an attempt by one part of our minds to force the other into a process of growth,
self-understanding and self-development
which it has hitherto refused to undertake.
If we can put it paradoxically,
it is an attempt to jumpstart a process of getting well,
properly well, through a stage of falling very ill.
The danger, therefore, if we merely medicalise a breakdown
and attempt to shift it away at once
is that we will miss the lesson embedded within our sickness.
A breakdown isn’t just a pain,
though it is that too of course;
it is an extraordinary opportunity to learn.
The reason we break down is that we have not,
over many years, flexed very much.
There were things we needed to hear inside our minds
that we deftly put to one side,
there were messages we needed to heed,
bits of emotional learning and communicating we didn’t do.
And now, after being patient for so long, far too long,
the emotional self is attempting to make itself heard
in the only way it now knows how.
It has become entirely desperate
and we should understand and even sympathise with its mute rage.
What the breakdown is telling us above anything else
is that it must no longer be business as usual
that things have to change or
( and this can be properly frightening to witness )
that death might be preferable.
Why can’t we simply listen to the emotional need calmly
and in good time, and avoid the melodrama of a breakdown?
Because the conscious mind is inherently lazy and squeamish
and so reluctant to engage with
what the breakdown eventually has to tell it with brutality.
For years, it refuses to listen to a particular sadness,
or there is a dysfunction in a relationship we’re in flight from
or there are desires we sweep very far under the proverbial carpet.
We can compare the process to a revolution.
For years, the people press the government
to listen to their demands and adjust.
For years, the government makes token gestures
but shuts its ears.
until one day, it is simply too much for the people,
who storm the palace gates, destroy the fine furnishings
and shoot randomly at the innocent and the guilty.
Mostly, in revolutions, there is no good outcome.
The legitimate grievances and needs of the people
are not addressed or even discovered.
There is an ugly civil war
sometimes, literally, suicide.
The same is true of breakdowns.
Yet a good mental physician tries hard to listen to
rather than censor the illness.
They detect within its oddities a plea
for more time for ourselves, for a closer relationship,
for a more honest, fulfilled way of being,
for acceptance for who we really are sexually….
That is why we started to drink, or to become reclusive
or to grow entirely paranoid or manically seductive.
A crisis represents an appetite for growth
that hasn’t found another way of expressing itself.
Many people, after a horrific few months or years of breakdown, will say,
‘you know, I don’t know how I’d ever have gotten well
if I hadn’t fallen ill’.
In the midst of a breakdown, we often wonder
whether we have gone mad.
We have not.
We’re behaving oddly no doubt,
but beneath the surface agitation,
we are on a hidden yet logical search for health.
We haven’t become ill;
we were ill already.
Our crisis, if we can get through it,
is an attempt to dislodge us from a toxic status quo
and it represents an insistent call to rebuild our lives
on a more authentic and sincere basis.
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One of the great problems of human beings is