Broken Souls, Emotional Breakdowns

by Bill Brenner on October 19, 2010

I’ve been in a strange place lately. I’m fine and all, but I’ve been around a lot of broken people, and that has an impact on you after awhile.

Mood music:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3px0m1Y9Tuc&fs=1&hl=en_US]

I can’t get into the stuff that has brought these friends to the brink, but I can say there’s been a lot of crying. Given my own trouble with tears, it’s rather funny that I’d be in this position. But I’ll do anything for my friends, so it’s all good.

The reason I bring this up is because it reminds me of the emotional breakdowns I’ve suffered over the years. I’ve mentioned before that I’ve hit bottom several times, but the emotional breakdown is a slightly different beast in my eyes. Hitting bottom meant reaching a point of stinging clarity that I couldn’t go on as I was. The emotional breakdown takes it a step further.

I experience powerful anxiety attacks to the point where breathing is a struggle. My chest takes on the feeling of burning rubber, and I’m ready to bawl my eyes out. But as I’ve mentioned before, the bawling doesn’t really happen. I feel it in every way except the tears running down my face.

One of the worst breakdowns was around 2005, the week of Erin’s birthday. I was about six months into some hard-core therapy for OCD (though I was still about a year away from the official diagnosis).

It got so bad I had to call my boss. I know Anne Saita is a special woman because here she was, supervising me at work, and despite all my efforts at being the golden boy with ice-cold blood in the eyes of my bosses, I fell apart on the phone while she was on the other end. I did it calmly. But I did something I had never done before: I had confided in a boss that maybe — just maybe — my issues were going to fuck with my work performance.

I exposed the weakest part of me, and I felt it for days. If you read this, Anne, I just want to thank you again. I will never, ever forget what you did for me.

Going back 20 years, there was another emotional breakdown, and this time I exposed my most raw emotions to Sean Marley. He helped bring me out of it. It’s a painful irony, because six years later I utterly failed to do the same for him.

Last December, when I started this blog, I kind of felt the same rawness. I was starting to spill my guts publicly. And I felt a bit unstable and wobbly.

But in all of these cases, the rawness, the wobbly knees and the shame passed, and each time I came back stronger than before. Not perfect. Not healed for life, but better. 

I just felt the need to mention that to my friends who are hurting. You might feel a little ashamed and embarrassed right now, but it’s good. This stuff happens because you were in need of a good humbling, as I was back then.

Whatever happens with your individual struggles, you will get past what you feel now. And you will be much stronger for whatever happens next.

That’s how it happened with me, at least.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Christy October 19, 2010 at 5:35 am

Hi Bill-just came back from the latest women’s ACTS retreat-physically exhausted and spiritually renewed. I have come to see once again that we must be emptied out before we can be filled again. For those friends of yours that are suffering I will be praying that it will be short and to the point and that God will continue to mold them into the child He intends for them to be.

God has blessed you to be able to help these people at this time and to be strong for them. What a gift.

In Christ,
Christy 🙂

Sandra October 19, 2010 at 8:15 am

I’m in 100% agreement that Anne Saita is much, much more than a fantastic editor. She’s a wonderful person.

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