When visiting my family last September I suppose I did have a breakdown (I just Googled ‘breakdown’ to make sure I wasn’t exaggerating).
My emotions spilled out at the smallest trigger, making what was a fun family dinner into an emotional spectacle that nobody could walk out on (the table and chairs are so squished together that if you want to leave the table you have to ask a few people to get out of the way first). My brothers and my mum showed concern about this outburst and ushered me into the living room so I could calm down and talk to them.
I completely opened up to them about my depression over the last year, my suicidal thoughts and my inability to live the life that I used to live. That may sound like a brave and healing thing to do, and I suppose it was in some ways, but for the most part it felt awkward and isolating.
The next day my breakdown continued in the hairdressers – which by the way is my nightmare of a place to have a breakdown; the bright lights, strangers and mirrors all around me; not my favourite place on a good day as they bring out the BDD in me. Anyway, I was getting a fixer-upper bleach and tint job done to my hair. When the big reveal came my hair was a mixture of white and bright yellow – if that colour had a name I’d call it ‘fried egg’. It was worse than one of those DIY FAILS on Youtube that you may have seen because a lot of money was being exchanged for such a disaster.
I felt like I should shave off my hair and be done with it. I thought that anything good-looking about me had been bleached off and I may as well kill myself. Yes really, my terrible hair lead me to thoughts of suicide in an instant.
The hairdresser could see I was upset with the results (no shit) and tried to console me, but before that she tried defending herself by putting the blame on the bleaching process etc. I could barely get a word out from being on the verge of sobbing my heart out in the middle of a salon, so we quickly decided on putting another tint on my hair to fix it. I wasn’t feeling hopeful at all – I was completely exhausted with emotion and my depressive thoughts had taken over my mind completely. I just wanted to get out of there and be at home, back in Edinburgh.
As she tinted my hair I continued to hold back the tears. After what seemed like hours I was finally released from the salon, minus £120, still in need of some emotional release. When I got home my mum complimented my hair, saying she didn’t understand why I was so upset. An emotional outburst came pouring out, in anger rather than sadness, and afterword I quickly shut myself in my room.
I cried for a long time and then read for a long time (thank goodness for books as emotional distractions). I pretty much had my head in a book until it was time for me to leave for the airport later that evening. I was so thankful to get home, to be with that person who knew exactly how to look after me when I was feeling so low.
Sure, I was somewhat glad to open up to my family, to let them know how I had been struggling over the past year by letting them actually see those emotions spill out of me. However, for the most part, it only made me feel more isolated, as I knew from what they were saying in order to comfort me that they could not truly empathise.
Sometimes it is really tough to open up about your mental illness, especially when you think those around you will simply not understand what it is you are going through. That’s why services like the Samaritans, SANE and Breathing Space are so vital. They provide that listening ear and comforting voice on the other end of the phone.
I know it can be hard picking up the phone to call in the first place – but trust me, it’s worth it if you just need somebody to listen.
Here are the phone numbers if you do: