The Importance of a Breakdown


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, much to everyone’s surprise, including our
own, we break. 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 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 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 it is in flight from or there are desires
it sweeps 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: ‘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 an insistent
call to rebuild our lives on a more authentic and sincere basis. Thank you for commenting,
liking and subscribing. We also offer, books, games, homeware and therapy sessions. To find
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100 Responses

  1. The School of Life

    April 10, 2018 11:32 pm

    Thank you for watching, be sure to subscribe and turn on notifications so you don't miss out on future films. Get our app here:

  2. NewYorkOutdoorsman

    October 2, 2019 1:35 pm

    Thank you for this video. This just really helped me a lot. I’m on my second breakdown in my life and this video just validated my moves. I’ve been thinking to myself I need to and have been shaking the etch a sketch of my life and starting from scratch. I’m glad I didn’t just rush to the meds. I almost did.

  3. EC

    October 3, 2019 12:07 am


  4. Retro Gaming World

    October 3, 2019 5:04 am

    very good video the points mentioned here are far better than what most psychiatrists can prescribe to cure this illness .

  5. William Eckman

    October 4, 2019 4:18 am

    I am graduating this year and I am extremely scared and I don't know what to do and I keep making it worse, I have ppl i can talk to but I counter that so much so that I don't even know how to ask for help. I don't know to "be an adult" I am too paranoid I don't know how things work and I wish I could ask why but I sincerely don't know what to do. I panic on a daily basis and its exhausting

  6. 김휴민KimHyumin

    October 6, 2019 12:07 am

    I always get a breakdown whenever weekend comes, I am so busy during Monday to Friday that, when weekend arrives I have nothing to do and things I would usually enjoy don't even itnerest me…

  7. M. K.

    October 8, 2019 4:57 pm

    I think I understand more about a song called "Heart Democracy" (Mikito P) after I listened to this video.

  8. Viking626

    October 13, 2019 4:41 pm

    I feel like people have “breakdowns” a little too often too give a true breakdown any credibility and it’s harder to take seriously

  9. chissstardestroyer

    October 14, 2019 10:54 pm

    What you're talking about could well be the essence of a midlife crysis as it turns out… that may be why people undergoing such a problem often do what amounts to teenage things as far as foolishness goes.
    So, if they medicate it, it only gets far worse, and possibly becomes permanent as a problem; interesting, and to cure it it proves vital to remove the medication and go with what works, in cases like mine, the socialization that hospitals require only does incredible harm, whereas isolation allows the time needed to study, which does good to my own case., and allows for self-perfection.

  10. Joey

    October 21, 2019 7:14 am

    Think you’re having a bad day? Think again. I can’t focus in school which caused me to get my first F (in eighth grade) but not just one F. No. All my courses have a big fat F on it. I have a project that was due in September I was just working on TODAY and I had a mental breakdown and lashed out on it and accidentally submitted the project. Now I had to lie and say my computer acted up when in reality now all my teachers hate me and I have worse grades.

  11. Beni Venetta

    October 23, 2019 3:17 pm

    U have a point, I've had 3-5 breakdowns in the passed weeks, but now I didn't understand why I feel like I'm stronger

  12. Auntie Patika

    October 23, 2019 11:52 pm

    did u just really say revolutions have no good outcome? we wont be watching this video in comfort if not for the french revolution lmao yall wildin with propaganda

  13. Foggy Pebble

    October 24, 2019 11:17 am

    I went through this. I ended up changing a very toxic method with which I had been brought up to processing things. I’m so glad the bad things happened because I’m better off for it now.

  14. AziPiToPki

    October 24, 2019 9:35 pm

    If someone didn't get the point.: The point is that you should listen to yourself( your feelings, body and mind) and then do something about it. The opposite that we do, is that we ignore what we feel because it's hard to be mindful. (Mindfulness is all about accepting your feeling and not trying to avoid them). So your breakdown happened because you didn't do anything about it so it had to go on a hard way. Now you gotta learn a lesson think about what caused your breakdown, how you are gonna grow bigger because of it and what will you do in future to be constantly growing without breakdowns.

  15. JustClark

    October 24, 2019 11:59 pm

    This really hit me cause I had a breakdown once and it really motivated me to change a lot of things in my life afterwards

  16. Janita van der Kuur

    October 25, 2019 10:51 am

    This was more a philosophical approach to a breakdown. I like both philosophy and science and would want to see more of both things incorporated

  17. Foggy Pebble

    October 26, 2019 8:06 am

    This reminds me of the movie Inside Out where Riley had to have that breakdown before she could change internally and get used to living in her new town

  18. Manel Castro

    October 27, 2019 10:46 am

    Thank your for presenting a kind, and a positive take on having a breakdown. A breakdown is very real. While in it, you feel indifferent and anxious at the same time about what you are supposed to be, and who you should be come. I sincerely hope that everyone who's feeling lost right now will find themselves in a better state sooner, or later.

  19. James Duff

    October 28, 2019 3:52 pm

    Can I say that your well articulated perspective on this topic totally blew me away. I've always had a very 'blinkered attitude' in only seeing the bad and ugly, but you have really given me a 'god's perspective' on the purpose of why having a mental breakdown may actually be good for us. Thank you! Keep up the good work.

  20. Hampton Featherton

    November 11, 2019 4:49 am

    I learned I should never freaking procrastinate on homework EVER again. I swear I cried for a good hour about the massive amount of homework I had to do.

  21. General Waste

    November 18, 2019 1:57 pm

    This video is absolute gold. As I start to see the light at the other end of my crisis, everything described here is incredibly accurate, relatable and, unfortunately, also regrettable that it had to come to this. But yes, my mindset has changed so much as a result. I'm a much better person now than I was, just wish I didn't have to lose my ex to learn this.

    Good luck to all those in crisis, at whatever stage you're at. Be strong and be weak when you need. Let the mistakes be lessons, as harsh as they may be, and have hope for the future.

  22. nae

    November 21, 2019 3:19 pm

    Personal boundaries are important .
    Knowing your limits , what you can/cant tolerate and taking the necessary action is Self care .

  23. sandchester

    November 21, 2019 11:57 pm

    Near the end of last school year I had multiple breakdowns, some in school, some during the summer, and the day before school started, and I didn't sleep that day. My parents don't exactly know because it happened at night, and I went downstairs so I didn't wake anyone up.

    I've made some big changes, and my parents keep asking me why, and that they liked the other me better. I don't care, I'm not going back.

  24. Mainak Chakraborty

    November 23, 2019 4:10 pm

    But what if you breakdown, quite severely, and get back to everything all over again by assuring yourself it's gonna be ok? An ultimate breakdown doesn't give the moment for self realisation, the penultimate one does.

  25. Andrea Marr

    November 23, 2019 5:37 pm

    Hindsight being twenty twenty. I see that the breakdown signified a ruptured paradigm and an energetic shift.

  26. roxianna

    November 24, 2019 10:14 am

    Yep. I can relate. I’m not sure if I’m in the middle, the end or the beginning of a breakdown. I’ve been having a series of them since end 2017… small, big, small, big… interspersed with periods of healing. I feel the catharsis. I feel the strangeness. I don’t know when it will end. I’m just going to ride this out, and take care of myself in the meanwhile.

  27. Lachimolala Kook

    November 24, 2019 5:38 pm

    So apparently my adolescent years was a breakdown. I'm entering the adult stage. And I'm feeling like having a breakdown in the near future. Wish me luck.

  28. Deadfox Spirit

    November 24, 2019 9:33 pm

    Me: *sends this vid to chronically depressed best friend *
    He: happy human noises sb cares not caring if it helps

  29. Shen

    November 24, 2019 9:53 pm

    Had an extreme breakdown. However, it completely changed my personality and outlook on life. Im glad i didn't accept the drugs.

  30. Johnny Rr

    November 25, 2019 8:38 am

    This is powerful. I'm slowly getting back up myself right now and this is just another nudge to accept how bad I felt without feeling bad for it or thinking I am a madman. It helps reconciliation myself with my own breakdown and seeming shortcoming when it really was just a means to save me. Good stuff

  31. gRa F

    November 25, 2019 3:24 pm

    Is feeling like I'm not totally in reality to a point that a dream feels more real than reality counted as a break dow?( Usually lasting about a week, and a constant desire to stay in bed, lost of appetite and basically a drive to do nothing)

  32. Mérida Macondo

    November 25, 2019 4:49 pm

    Revolutions have no good outcome???? French revolution – the end of monarchy and led to colonies to get independence. Haitian revolution – ended slavery. Cuban revolution – ended a US dictatorship that was exploiting the locals. Carnation Revolution – brought democracy to Portugal. Revolutions happen because of society inequialities and injustice. The vast majority have a better outcome than was before.

  33. themaddiebruce

    November 25, 2019 5:24 pm

    "we haven’t become ill, we are ill already"- absolutely love these videos. At 17 I had a breakdown and it took me a LONG time wallowing in depression and seeking suicide as an option to finally realise that it was an opportunity to grow and learn. Love the explanation of our brain trying to tell us something but as our conscious minds are lazy it takes urgent action. Our brains are so clever in seeking health but often we ignore the signposts given by our body until its too late.

  34. Ken Akabane

    November 25, 2019 9:46 pm

    had a mad breakdown last tuesday. today is the first day i am getting my life together again. needed to change my mind about me and other people. i was too anxious and not honest. but i think i can accept life in general now.

  35. MOP

    November 26, 2019 1:10 am

    Sometimes, medication is still greatly needed. Not all breakdowns are maneagable by introspecting alone. Some are caused by serious condition

  36. Aika Papa

    November 26, 2019 8:21 am

    If we have to get ill in order to get properly well, truly healthy, I'd say we are creating a rather masochistic, paradoxical reality. Why do we need the opposite, the contrast, the lesson, the suffering in order to reach the healing, the release, the freedom, the reward ? Why can't we get it DIRECTLY, what is stopping us? Do we have to suffer to be WORTHY of a life without illness? Is that the message ? Sadistic a bit. We are not doing something right to begin with if we need to collapse or break down first in order to achieve wholeness or a breakthrough later. This SHOULDN'T be the way. Are we punishing ourselves for something ? Why can't we enjoy the positive or "heaven" WITHOUT going through the negative or "hell" first ? Who is stopping us and Why ? Ponder this for a while !

  37. YouTube kidz

    November 26, 2019 10:49 am

    I had one of these when I lost school captain to someone stuttering that only won because of popularity
    I cried for 2 and a half hours

  38. ece devrim küreksiz

    November 26, 2019 6:48 pm

    as i was watching this, tears started streaming down my face. i think someone needs a breakdown

  39. DodgedABullet

    November 26, 2019 9:02 pm

    I had a breakdown at 22, I’m 64 today, and I’m still doing bed in marathons. Ha
    It was the most painful, yet enlightening experience I ever endured.

  40. LuckyCandi

    November 27, 2019 3:01 am

    These are the kinds of deep things i think of in the middle of breakdowns hdbdjbfnf im like. Just getting over the most recent one but im sure ill fall right back into it when i need to poke at what caused it in the first place

  41. Rob Bob

    November 27, 2019 8:05 am

    Had a breakdown on the 11th of February 2018 and lead me to lose my relationship with my girlfriend. I suffered emotionally because I was a jerk, hated my life, felt nervous, scared, anxious, questioned God, hated everything, felt like crying even though I was laughing on the outside, saw 3 different psychologists and the emotional toil has continued throughout 2018 to 2019. Lord please make me be ok and please don't forget my dreams and that I want to be the best person I can be and truly be happy…

  42. Len Hoare

    November 27, 2019 10:55 am

    Im having one and have been for 2 years. Thanks for doing this. All the graphics are true and I find this extremely heartening.

  43. NH4 Ci

    November 28, 2019 5:33 pm

    My God how correct is this video. A few months ago I was going through an extremely tough time and wasn't doing well at all. It continued until one day I just went mad. I went through every single emotion and feeling, from extreme euphoria to extreme sadness in one evening. After that, suddenly I was fine. I'm happier, look at life differently, things I was addicted to suddenly have no meaning. I feel like I'm thriving, and if it wasn't for this video I would eventually believe I'm dreaming because I couldn't understand how you can just get better

  44. infantleatherskinjacket 5thgearpinnedbrapp

    November 29, 2019 8:09 am

    False. The actual importance of a breakdown is to give a part to a song that grabs you by the balls with slow tempos and drop tuned guitars usually in metal songs you uncultured swines.


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