THREE: When’s the Right Time to Cry?

Showered? Check. Brushed Teeth? Check. Phone on silent? Check. Sobbed into pillow for 15 minutes about dropping my sandwich 3 years ago? Check.

My nightly routine

Please, please, please, someone validate me. Surely I’m not the only one. Well I sure hope not, because I’m going to say it. I’m putting it out there for your consideration, exposing myself (metaphorically, at least buy me dinner first). Alright, here goes…

I don’t know about you, but the older I get, the bigger a sook I am.

I laugh at myself sometimes, especially when I’m fighting back tears at some stupid cheesy rom-com (that I can quote from…damn it). The things that never phased me as a kid get me all choked up in my mid-twenties. Videos of armed servicemen and women returning to their families? Lump in the throat. A poor, neglected dog being adopted and brought into a loving home? Waterworks. Hagrid receiving a standing ovation at the end of Chamber of Secrets? Drowning in tears.

Sob. Sob. Sob. I’m a hot mess.

When you think about it, those kind of things don’t phase you as a kid, because you don’t really understand them. They’re not as relatable because, in a lot of cases, you’re yet to have certain life experiences by which such stimulus could trigger a certain emotion within you. As a kid, the epitome of devastating was watching Stone Cold Steve Austin lose his WWF title, or running out of lives on Crash Bandicoot. Those were my biggest concerns as a boy, that and trying to decide whether I should go out with Makaela or Rochelle. They were best friends, 4th grade me was an A-Grade hustler and home-wrecker. I mean, I don’t mean to brag, but we used to write full A4 page letters to each other.

A. Grade. Hustler.

But let me tell you this. I’m bringing the mic closer for emphasis. Get your ears real close to the screen, because I’m about to blow this shit up. If you ever feel like you need to let it out, break the dam, flood the gates, and you’re wondering whether or not you should. Uncle Tim is here to tell you;

YES. YES YOU BLOODY SHOULD.

Why? Because if you need to, then it’s the best possible thing you could do. Whether you realise it or not. We don’t always need to know why we’re crying, sometimes it seems the silliest things tip us over the edge and we breakdown. But I absolutely refuse, REFUSE to tell anyone or be told that whatever reason that has been cooked up for the current sob session is not valid.

My journey towards understanding and managing my mental health issues was gruelling. I don’t sugar-coat it, I don’t beat around the bush, because that gets me nowhere and helps no one. I had a lot of sleepless nights, I cried at home regularly, sometimes I would drink myself silly if I was home alone. It was exhausting. But the times I felt at my best were after those breakdowns. Why? Because I wasn’t bottling up my feelings, I released them. And if I was bottling my feelings, it was strategic, because I treated it like the last slice of cake and picked the right moment to get the best out of it. I got it allllll out of my system. I was a big ol’ bottle of cola and one passing remark, one dog video, one fight with on-screen girlfriend Emma Watson and BOOM, like someone dropped a Mentos.

Sob. Sob. Sob. I’m a hot mess.

In my humble and unqualified opinion, crying is the absolute healthiest and most beneficial thing a person who is struggling can do. In fact, I would still recommend it to someone who doesn’t feel like they’re struggling. Even when I’m feeling at my best, every now and then I’ll have a little cry. I’ll flush out any negative energy, no matter how big or small it is, and start afresh. Learning this was one of the biggest steps forward I took in my journey that I took.

How on earth does crying solve any of this?

Why? WHY? I’ll tell you why. Because crying became my best friend, once I learned to use it strategically as an emotional release. I stopped crying in places I didn’t want to be seen crying; the office, the supermarket, the park. Why? Because I harnessed crying as a coping mechanism, it was my superpower (I declined an invitation into the Avengers, not the other way around), I began to strategise with it. Sometimes I’d hold off a day or two when I felt it coming on so when I was ready, whether that be in bed, on the couch with a movie, even in the shower, I’d let it all out. However I needed to. It would range from a quiet couple of tears and a sniffle, to a an ugly, Kim K-esque wail, sprinkled with some toddler-having-a-tantrum. Next day? Right as rain, ready for action, I was a WORLD BEATER.

So let the Mental Health Messiah preach this to you, boys and girls (especially the boys who have been brought up by toxic masculinity that tells you that you can’t cry. We will talk about this another time, young man), tears are your friend. You cry as much as you need to, wherever you need to, whenever you need to, over whatever it is that makes you feel that way. It doesn’t have to make sense, it doesn’t have to be “rational” in someone else’s eyes, you don’t have to explain your feelings to anyone. Let it out, let it all out. Cry until you don’t feel as strongly as you do, then sleep. That would be my advice to anyone.

Honour yourself by not criticising, judging or denying what you feel.

Iyanla Vanzant

Mental Health

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