Break the silence behind bad breakdowns

Because we think breakdowns are an exhibition of mental exhaustion and instability, we don’t tell anyone when a normal night turns into a cry fest. I am not referring to breakdowns caused by breakups or bad friends, but instead the gut-wrenching, jaw-locking academics-induced turmoil of “I can’t handle my life.”

With tons of tests, future careers to worry about and feeling tired to the point of impaired motor skills and dazed interaction, the widespread yet little-talked-about student breakdown is often only suffered in the company of oneself and one’s pillows, hidden from sight, with the courteous intention to not make anyone else uncomfortable.

Sometimes, we freak out and lose sight of what really matters. We’re cruel to ourselves, and we can’t seem to let things go.

I have let this phenomenon massacre my nerves many times, and if you’re done pretending to be perpetually poised, let’s go ahead and admit now that you have, too.

These wet-eyed, red-faced episodes are seen in such a taboo light because of society’s desperate desire to quiet down chaos and promote higher order. The assumption is that if one person acts out, displaying dissatisfaction, everyone else might start screaming their heads off, too.

Yet if you’re bawling in your room, and then dutifully splash your face and go to class, how can you ensure that it won’t happen again? I don’t believe in the notion that having “a good cry” gets out all the poison and makes everything better. If you’re in a wild fit of despair, there’s probably a serious reason behind it that you couldn’t throw out with the tissues.

Using the Social Adjustment Rating Scale, researchers have found that when undergraduate college students rank various life events in terms of stress, “Had a lot of tests” is second only to “Death (family member or friend),” while “Parents getting a divorce” is ranked No. 19.

Basically, what you might have thought to be the most horrible event in your life is actually far overshadowed by something that should be considered more of a nuisance than a severe stressor. Because we’re quick to view regular measures of comprehension as regular measures of intelligence, the pressure to prove ourselves quite literally keeps us up at night. But this is absurd.

You don’t offer a GPA to the world. You offer amazing qualities, like work ethic and creativity. We bring pain upon ourselves when we choose to give something of little meaning such high a place on the shelf, instead of honoring our true assets. Your grades cannot measure the capacity of what you’re capable. Nothing really can, because there’s no limit.


Hunter Wright is a sophomore majoring in creative writing.

April 2, 2014


Hunter Wright

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