If you’ve ever had to wait in a TSA line that wrapped around the terminal 20 minutes before your flight was set to take off, chances are you’ve experienced a meltdown. It can happen in any place at any time to anyone — NASA has an entire division dedicated to making sure it doesn’t happen to astronauts on their way out of the stratosphere — and can take many forms: tears, rage, nihilistic hopelessness and even a moment or two of some seriously fucked-up giggles. At least that’s what we found when we asked a bunch of guys about the last time they felt like they were having a meltdown.
I have this one jolly fucking co-worker who can’t keep his hands to himself. He’s the kind of guy that prefers hugs over handshakes, and he often sneaks up to massage your shoulders before uttering, “You seem tense, everything okay?” A few weeks ago, he crept up behind me and put his moist palms on my neck and startled me the point that I spilled water all over my keyboard. I had a momentary breakdown, and I said some things I probably wish I could take back. But the good news is that he hasn’t laid a finger on me since.
I was a freshman in college when I had my first and last mental breakdown. It was two months into the pledging process, and I was fed up with all the hazing and the chores we were required to do — especially because it made it so that I had to change my schedule around to make time to be tortured. Suddenly everything seemed hectic; I hardly had time to eat. I had 10 minutes to walk all the way across campus (1.5 miles) four times a week between classes. At that point I grew anxious and began to worry about the next semester and whether or not I’d even last long enough to make it through the winter. I called my mom and dad, but that only seemed to make things worse since they could sense the anxiety in my voice and their worry only added to my own. It wasn’t until I hung up the phone that I felt the tension rise to the point where it swallowed me up. I cried for a few minutes — something I never do — before I felt some relief and began to calm down.
A few weeks ago, I was working on editing a video — an imperative next step for the creation of my next film. I encountered a technical challenge that I simply could not figure out. It was a simple thing, but I couldn’t figure out a way to convert an iTunes song so that I could use it in the editing program.
After five hours of Google searches and a series of conversations with Apple’s customer services, I spiraled into a series of cynical thoughts which led to me to thinking that everything was pointless. I wanted to destroy my computer, and sue iTunes. I smoked a cigarette to relax but I was shaking — filled with a burning anger. The cigarette helped and I went back in and settled for another version of the song I wanted to use which was being sold on Google Music. They don’t lock their files like Apple — the bastards. This is something I normally would never settle for, but I said fuck it. I wish I had done it earlier so I could have avoided the flames. I also wish I could say I learned something, but I didn’t.
I’d been on the search for a new job and I’d finally landed an interview at a company I liked and for a position I felt qualified for. The interview went really well. After a couple of days I get the call and they tell me they liked me and my work, etc., but that they’re looking for someone with more experience. The “more experience” line is one I’ve received probably a dozen times which is where the breakdown started because it’s a bit of a catch-22. Employers want to hire people with the right amount of experience, but to get experience, you need to have a job. I felt helpless, like I was chasing a piece of string that was just beyond my reach. To release some anger, I went in my backyard, rolled up a yoga mat and smashed it probably 20–30 times with a whiffle ball bat. I found this to be a very safe and efficient way to let off some steam. More of a temper tantrum than a mental breakdown, really, but for a few minutes there I completely lost it.