Feeling fragile? Crippling social anxiety, or off your food lately? All-consuming exhaustion or general apathy meaning you can no longer get out of bed? Or maybe you feel an overwhelming sense of doom, making your life lose meaning?

Don’t worry – you’re probably on the edge of a nervous breakdown.

I mean no sarcasm or distasteful dismissal by this. If you’re really in the throes of a nervous breakdown, it is most likely exactly what you needed.

The problem with perseverance

Perseverance is both humanity’s greatest strength and its downfall. We buckle down and push forward no matter the impact on our emotional and physical wellbeing. Sure – this is how we made it this far. But as any body-builder knows, adequate rest and nourishment are just as important as the grind when it comes to building strength.

As a result of this widespread workaholism, an increasing number of us are cracking under the pressure. Indeed, this fierce determination to succeed can only last so long. It may take months, years or even decades, but eventually, if we forgo appropriate rest and self-care, we eventually snap.

What they don’t tell you about having a breakdown

Although “nervous breakdown” is no longer considered a medical term, it’s still used by many to describe a period of intense mental distress, during which you’re unable to function in your everyday life.

And despite the stigma, this phenomenon is worryingly common. Though many will hide behind ambiguous terminology and not specify what exactly is making them ill, it is very normal and even healthy for the body to react in this way when put under too much pressure for too long.

It could affect your appetite, your sleep, give you the urge to act impulsively, or avoid all stimulation at all, it can even lead to neurological disorders.

How your nervous breakdown could help you

A nervous breakdown is a cry for help coming from within ourselves. It is the body’s desperate attempt for the mind to take notice of the strain which it is inflicting. So regard it as a gift from your physical to your emotional self. Sometimes the physical body feels the effect of stress before the emotional self takes notice – by which point much damage has already been done.

Whatever form it comes in, regard your nervous breakdown as a red flag to slow down and take stock: are you taking care or yourself? Are you over-burdened or over-worked to the point that you can no-longer continue productively?

How to recover from a nervous breakdown

This is the result of long-term self-neglect, so it requires a long-term fix. This could be as simple as getting more sleep or meditating for a few minutes a day, or as groundbreaking as a career-change or relationship evaluation. Whatever your individual story, a nervous breakdown is an extraordinary opportunity to learn.

Having a nervous breakdown? What to remember

You may feel like you are losing yourself, or at least your mind. Although a nervous breakdown is, of course, a cause for concern, remember that this is just your body’s way of initiating a transformation. Everything now depends on how you respond to this experience.

Beneath the visible disturbance, you are simply on a subconscious search for health and well-being. You haven’t become ill as it may seem; this is just the first stage of your healing process to start the path to positive change.