How does one start an essay about a personal emotional breakdown?

Not with humour certainly. Such a thing would seem trite, even insulting to those who fight similar battles every day. On the other hand, humour is a fundamental part of who I am, and it’s one of the tools I use to heal my spirit when the sadness gets too oppressive.

But of course, humour has always been far more than just a tool for healing. It’s also a shield, a mask behind which one can hide one’s true feelings.

Intellectual integrity and even authenticity would seem to demand that I lay it all before you, in the hopes that in doing so, others in similar situations may discover that while they may suffer in silence, they do not suffer alone.

One moment… What of societal standards? Isn’t baring one’s emotional insides to an audience of strangers (though beloved ones if I may be so bold) considered “bad form?” Is such behaviour not gauche, or worse, self-indulgent? Miss Manners would surely be aghast by such a display.

Ah but there’s the rub dear reader, n’est-ce pas?

In any discussion about our emotional life, people often act as if you had just removed all your clothing in the middle of a shopping mall. There are expressions of horror, amusement and even morbid curiosity.

People Who Understand These Things tut-tut us into submission, arguing that one should keep personal matters to oneself. Everyone has their own issues, what right do we have to burden them with ours?

And so we bury our pain deep within, eschewing help, even from those angelic humans who would love nothing more to have you open your heart and soul. In some cases we seek out “professional” help in the form of psychologists and psychotherapists. In some cases the help provided by the psychiatric profession is both necessary and immensely helpful.

However for many of us, what we need is not professional help and certainly not medication. What we need is the freedom to feel, to be ourselves.

To turn ourselves inside out and reveal the blindingly beautiful light that burns within, without the judgement of “society” or scorn born out of blind adherence to abstruse “rules” of behaviour.

So many of us spend our days feeling ourselves burning up inside, the flame of our being trapped in a shell of “propriety,” hidden lest someone be irritated by the glare.

And so we break down, our inner being scorched and damaged from trying to hold in a fire that wants to blaze into the night.

I had originally intended to write an essay about a personal breakdown I had this week – caused by the combined weight of sadness, imposter syndrome and fear – and one that I’m still working through.

However, my muse apparently had other ideas, and I now find myself, 500 words in, somewhat amazed. Not by my writing you understand. If this collection of verbal detritus makes any kind of sense to another human, that will be a marvel for the ages.

No, I find myself struck with wonder by the effect the act of writing this literary litter has had on my spirit.

Perhaps this is how I turn myself inside out. Through the medium of words, I can let my inner light shine bright, adding a tiny, possibly even significant, “something” to the sum total of the universe.

Imagine if we all just chose to turn ourselves inside out – to reveal to the world the bright light that burns within each of us.

Imagine how much brighter our world would be.

If “society” is going to mutter and complain anyway, let’s give it something to mutter and complain about!

Let’s start a movement encouraging one another to open up and share our light with the world, and to hell with outdated rules of etiquette.

It will happen in the shadows first – that’s where the light is most needed after all. It will be our own little conspiracy.

A conspiracy of love.

A conspiracy… of light.


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