I had frozen on my screen again. I had been staring at it for almost 30 minutes and had no clue what the text in the opened Word document read. Hands trembling, heart beating fast, tears struggling to fall, but I quickly wiped them off. No, this wasn’t gonna happen, ‘Blacks don’t crack’.
I knew I was way past cracking, I was having a major breakdown. Each day got harder. I struggled to paste a smile so people could stop asking ‘what’s wrong?’ It’s a part of our culture to be strong, not to cry and to hustle hard. How was I gonna admit that I was sad, not because someone died or because I was ill, but because something was off in my internal system? That I was paralyzed from the inside out. It would sound silly.
Yet the warnings continued.
Whenever I tried to write, dark poems came out like the inevitable blackening of the sky at night. It got crazier by the day and I dreaded writing. I also became mute. Yes, the communications major who could neither write or verbally express what was going on. At this point, nobody could fix me. And I thank all who tried.
This would be the second major breakdown I had in the last year. My body, mind and soul were falling apart. I still rememeber the last one. It was during my dissertation period- I had gotten to the point where I went totally blank and numb. Nothing mattered any more. I became the walking dead. And I didn’t care.
Now that’s something the sane me would hardly say. I think too much not to care. I care way too much even! So you must understand that for me to have gotten to that point, meant there was a huge disconnect in my body, mind and soul. Just as it was happening again.
It’s funny how we don’t pay attention to the mind and soul as much as we do to the body. With the body, it’s clear when you’re falling apart –you can feel the aches & pains and probably even fall ill and get medical reports. But with the soul and mind, it’s different. It happens slowly and silently until you can’t even recall when it first started.
If it’s not bad enough that you’re having a breakdown, it’s worse when you have to keep up appearance. When people don’t understand what’s going on yet they have to walk on eggshells around you. When the things that once made you happy can’t even make you smile. It’s really bad.
So here’s what we can do.
1. Check-up – Just as we carry out medical check-ups for our body and take random tests to be sure it’s not malaria or typhoid, we must also carry out regular checks on the health of our mind and soul. Notice when you lose excitement. Notice when you lose the zeal to wake up in the morning. Take note of the little things. Take note of the things that trigger a breakdown –stress, dehydration, uncertainties, fear, anxiety etc.
2. Take some time out – pull away from the triggers. You can leave the environment or things that are causing you stress and lack of peace. Find new things that can make you happy.
3. Draw closer to God –yes, my list wouldn’t be complete without this. He’s the one who literally sees the mind and soul and can help us fix what’s broken. I felt guilty at first when I would fall into that ‘mood’ where it seemed my joy was completely gone. But it really helped when I honestly told God about the way I felt and how I couldn’t do anything about the situation. My prayer was ‘God, help me’. No long sentences, just a simple cry for help (and lots of doodles in my book with the phrase ‘help me’). Trust me, he answers.
This is a serious topic for me. Thank God I get to even write about it, because I know there are many out there going through the motions without any way of expressing how they feel. Know you’re not alone and you’re gonna get through this.
Lots of love,