We all watched in horror at footage of Britney Spears shaving her own head at a Los Angeles salon, signaling the start of her much-publicized mental breakdown.
Celebrity breakdowns are buzzed about — even sensationalized — for their entertainment value. We don’t hear as much about real women having public meltdowns, because it’s not as acceptable. As women, we’re supposed to be strong, confident, and in control. But I’m here to tell you that real women do have meltdowns — and they can be just as public as the celebrity kind.
I know, because I melted the other day in the Walgreens parking lot. My modeling agency had sent me to demonstrate a new line of Sally Hansen nail polishes. I wore sleek black jeans, a black vest over a white long-sleeved Gap t-shirt, and high-heeled black boots. My dark brown hair was perfectly straightened; my lashes lush with mascara; my red lipstick glossy; and my nails freshly painted. I felt ready to be a Sally Hansen model.
Taking a deep breath, I reached to open my car door and froze. My arm was paralyzed. Fatigue and anxiety suddenly crushed my body like a soda can. My emotions were suddenly standing at the edge of a cliff — ready to push my logic downward.
Afraid of the powerful force suffocating me, I called my husband, David, and whispered, “Babe, I think I’m having a meltdown. I feel like I’m losing it.”
“Where are you?” he asked. I told him I was sitting in my car at the Walgreens parking lot. I broke into deep, body-rattling sobs as I explained my sudden mental and physical collapse to him.
“I’m on my way,” he said.
In lightning speed, my husband pulled into the parking space beside me. He came around to my car door, opened it, and pulled me outside. We stood in the cold, embracing, as he repeated, “I’ve got you. Forever.” The more he said it, the more I sobbed, my face streaked with mascara.
Customers coming in and out of Walgreens couldn’t help but stare. Who was this sharply dressed woman wailing in the middle of the parking lot, her face smeared with clumps of black? People driving by on the street glanced over, concerned. I didn’t care. All I could focus on was David’s strong arms wrapped around me, and the compassion emanating from his eyes.
“It’s all been too much for me,” I said, realizing I had reached the end of my rope. “Moving, planning the wedding, leaving my job, starting my own business…” (It certainly didn’t help that I was also on my period.)
David agreed that we had been overwhelmed with changes recently. It was all coming to a head at that moment. He commanded me to drive home, call my modeling agent, and rest. There was no way I could work that day.
Later that night, I checked my Facebook page. A friend had seen my meltdown as she had driven by Walgreens. “Are you okay?!” was her heartfelt message. I assured her it had been a momentary collapse. I was just fine.
I’m still a bit embarrassed about my breakdown — but at the same time, it was a beautiful, whole-body release. I felt cleansed of the weight I had been harboring.
Whether it’s in public or behind closed doors, I believe every woman deserves to melt down at some point in her life. So go ahead: waterproof mascara or not, let it all out.