Have you ever witnessed someone lose control of their thoughts and emotions? These Redditors had front-row seats to some of the most upsetting breakdowns ever. From triggering events to uncontrollable panic attacks, these stories are more than just a sensational read—they are cautionary tales. Take a deep breath, tend to your mental health…and try to avoid triggering situations at all costs.
1. Pencil Texting
Back in high school, I had this very weird French teacher. She was usually very nice but could snap at the slightest of things. For some reason, everyone messed with her in the class, we weren’t allowed phones in class, so we pretended to text on our pencils. She would call us out and we’d just show her the pencil. We thought it was hilarious…until it wasn’t.
One morning, my friend Adam got called out on his pencil texting. Our French teacher stood up, screamed loudly in complete gibberish like some demon and ran towards him, snapped his pencil in half, threw it at him, and then ran out of the classroom screaming about cats and pushing students out the way. She never came back. I think maybe she had some underlying mental issues, but it was the craziest breakdown I’ve seen.
2. The New Boyfriend
I was hooking up with a guy when I was about 16 who was suffering from an undiagnosed mental disorder. Looking back on it, I’d guess it was bipolar disorder or schizophrenia. He was older and going to college in the city, so I’d visit him whenever I’d take the train down. In the beginning, he was pretty okay, though he’d always walk around wearing plaid pajama bottoms and a big, puffy, mustard yellow parka and had some “quirky” personality traits.
The school he was attending was filled with weird art kids, so I dismissed it as him being eccentric for some time. I remember, after hanging out with him for a day while he was disheveled and sleepy, he told me he had an event to go to. It was a movie premiere his dad had invited him to. It was a really fancy, Hollywood movie premiere.
He rolled his eyes, explained that his dad was making him go, waved goodbye, and just attended this black-tie event in his PJ bottoms and parka. But that was just the tip of the iceberg. Every time I visited, his dorm room became more and more disorganized. Over time, he became increasingly erratic. He started to become obsessed with New Age/Eastern spirituality and was convinced he was some kind of a shaman. There were candles everywhere.
He only talked about third eye, his “psychic abilities”, summoning spirits, etc. He had a very sweet roommate this entire time who was acting as his caretaker. He was so nice, just humoring him and shooting me sympathetic grimaces, entertaining me, and acting as the host whenever my friend disappeared to go suddenly pursue whatever thought had just popped into his brain.
I was too young to really be able to handle that situation well, so thank God he was there. I’m not sure why I didn’t break off the situation, I wasn’t invested, but I think I didn’t want to cut off ties with a person who was clearly spiraling. His parents eventually caught on to the fact this was psychological and far more serious than an eccentric personality. They came down and collected him.
I only saw him a handful of times after that. He was always “quirky”, but never got as bad as that period of time. He actually gained quite a bit of weight, so I assume he’d been put on antipsychotics. Poor dude.
3. Security Blanket
My father was in the hospital for four months total due to brain damage among many other issues. When he finally got to come home he completely lost it a couple of times over really trivial things. One of the worst times was over a blanket. He had thrown out a white blanket about a year before. He came into the living room and started screaming about the blanket.
He threw things, flipped the couch over, and had a crazed fit for over an hour. He just wouldn’t hear anything anyone had to say to him. Eventually, he almost fainted.
4. New Found Land
Back when I was in college, there was a girl in my English class that got into a shouting match with the professor over the correct pronunciation of the word “Newfoundland.” This girl was screaming and calling the professor an idiot because he didn’t pronounce it “New Found Land.” She wouldn’t have it any other way, insisting her pronunciation was correct.
When the professor humored her and asked the class to raise their hands if they thought he was pronouncing it correctly, everyone around her raised their hands. Utter chaos ensued. She began screaming, calling everyone an idiot and she dropped on the floor and began to roll, begging God to punish her enemies. Campus security proceeded to drag her out of the class, kicking and screaming.
In spite of this nightmare of a situation, my professor continued with his lecture as if nothing had happened. We never saw her again.
5. Man’s Best Friend
I’m a veterinarian and I used to treat a schizophrenic homeless man’s dog for free. He was a good man who loved his dog. One day he came in, asking me to help her—but when I looked at that dog, I knew it was over. He had walked five miles in terrible weather, and he was obviously upset. It broke my heart, but sadly, the dog had passed and was beginning to smell.
He started losing it and saying strange things; radio waves were affecting his brain, he needs to save her and perform CPR. I had a social worker sit with us and finally, he came to terms with what was going on. I was crying, he was crying. It was terrible. He finally got it and seemed to realize she was not coming back. I offered to have the dog cremated, but he wouldn’t let me pay for it, so I told him we would barter and I’d buy a painting from him.
I am now the proud owner of an amazing painting that I cherish. It’s painted on cardboard and has a beautiful inscription on it. I will never forget the man or his sweet little dog.
6. Atomic Trail Mix
I haven’t thought of this in years, but it’s one of the wildest things I’ve ever witnessed. I’m in the second grade, our desks are arranged in cubes of four. Across from me there was a girl, and I think her name was Ashley. I don’t really know her that well, but she seems as normal as any other second grader to me. It’s the middle of the afternoon, and we’re doing an art project.
She has some kind of snack in a gallon-size Ziploc bag, I think it was trail mix. Ashley finished the snack but left the bag out. No big deal, right? However, our teacher takes exception to this and tells Ashley to either put the bag away or throw it out. Ashley refuses both options, so the teacher pulls the adult card and takes the bag from her. Bad move.
Ashley loses it instantly. Screaming, crying, protesting in spurts of syllables that might have been words had they come from someone who wasn’t now convinced the world is over. I’ve never seen someone lose it like this in my short time on this planet and now I’ve got a front-row seat in the Thunderdome. Ashley is scream-crying, and our teacher looks like she just stepped on a landmine.
Ashley wails, flails, and tries to rip the bag out of the teacher’s hands, but the teacher somehow hangs onto it. They seem to stalemate for several minutes until the teacher remembers that she’s way stronger than a second grader and seizes the bag, which she then tosses in the trash. Another wrong move. If the previous tantrum was bad, the ensuing fit was apoplectic.
We had now entered the atomic age of losing your mind, and Ashley was our Manhattan Project. I think she’s trying to speak, but it’s just wailing and crying at this point with the occasional flash of fury directed at the teacher. Our whole class has come to a standstill as we soak in this incredible sight. After about 20 minutes Ashley is finally sent to the hallway to calm down. She grabbed the bag out of the trash on the way out. No one tried to stop her.
7. Jump Rope
I was in fourth grade when this happened. Our class, along with two others, were in gym class; we were all practicing cool tricks on the jump rope. The teacher calls us over and we all sit and watch her show off some cool tricks. As this is happening, a kid wraps the jump rope around his neck and pulls it tight, choking himself and turning dark purple in the process.
And the worst part of all? He kept screaming “I HATE MY LIFE!” through his coughing and gurgles. Obviously, our teacher stopped him, and the school had to issue a letter to all students about what happened and that parents should watch out for their kids. This kid went on to do more stuff like that, but that first mental breakdown he had was, by far, the most traumatizing. I can still see it in my mind plain as day.
My ex-boyfriend smoked a lot of pot, which is fine, but it made him so paranoid and anxious that he couldn’t fully function. And then it got to the point that the paranoia and anxiety started to happen when he wasn’t using it. He hid it well, in the beginning. Then I got a call from his best friend, asking if I knew where he was because he’d done a no-call no-show at work that day.
I stopped by his house, the door was ajar, and his cat was wandering around in the hallway crying. I went into his apartment, but he wasn’t there, and neither was his car. I started looking around, and what I found was utterly disturbing. I noticed there was a knife on the counter, and his phone was smashed on the floor. He also left his wallet behind. So I called his friend, called the authorities, sat down, and waited.
Once all of that was over, I went home and waited to hear something. Eventually, I heard from him and found out that he had had a paranoid episode, became convinced that he had AIDS, drove to the hospital, and started screaming and trying to fight in the hospital lobby. He ended up in four-point restraints and had to get to the point of normalcy before they could let him call anyone since he had no ID and was acting completely insane. But the nightmare didn’t end there.
The hospital set him up with a therapist, and in the next coming months, he became convinced he was the son of God and left all of his apartment sliding doors open for “the snakes.” His mental health continued to rapidly decline. Turns out, he was bipolar and had a psychotic manic episode. He refused medication, we broke up, and I still get text messages and phone calls from all of his random numbers 4 years later.
It was 9/11. My first-period math teacher did not handle it well. I was 14, and we were all stunned and scared. My teacher was wailing, pulling her hair out, running in and out of the room. Her husband had died in the line of duty at some point and his flag was on display in her room. She broke open the display case and dragged open the folded flag.
She began weeping into the flag and hugging it towards her. Eventually, I got another teacher and told them our teacher needed to be removed. It took three teachers to essentially drag her from the room. She was gone for two whole weeks. She always didn’t like me, but after that, she hated me and gave me detention every day.
I had a friend who was the nicest guy. He was polite, a hard worker, and rarely drank. He never cursed, had a great relationship with everybody, and I don’t think I ever saw him get mad. I was at his place one day with his roommates when he got home from work. He yelled at us to shut up, went to the fridge and grabbed two drinks, pounded those, slammed the fridge, went to his room, and slammed the door.
His roommate goes to check on him to see what’s wrong. His roommate also happens to be a paramedic. He quickly diagnosed the problem as physiological, we zip-tied his hands, threw him in the car, and sped to the hospital. He was diagnosed with a brain aneurysm and put into a medically induced coma. But that wasn’t the most tragic part.
Not long after his family was notified, he passed.
11. The Missing Shoe
A random guy on the street was crying and looking really distraught as he approached me yelling “CAN YOU HELP ME FIND MY SHOE?! CAN YOU HELP ME FIND MY SHOE?!” Sure enough, the guy was wearing only one shoe, though he happened to be holding the other one in his hand. It was one of the strangest things I’d ever seen.
My dad lost his mind after my mum walked out on him, made it impossible for him to see his daughters, and played the system to financially ruin him. The whole thing was a train wreck that unfolded over several years, but one event sticks out from when I was in my early teens.
He came home one night and entered my bedroom, sobbing uncontrollably and smashing his head into my wooden door frame so that blood was pouring down his face. He did this all while yelling, “Tell me what to do, I don’t know what to do…” He freaked me the heck out. Following this bloody debacle, he got me into the car, drove to her house, and left me with her for the night.
13. I Can’t Move
During my first year of secondary school, I had major anxiety. The slightest thing would throw me off, like if I thought I was breathing oddly, was I sitting too straight, if I was too tall, are those people laughing at me, etc. Started off with just a bit of uneasiness, but very quickly it got so much worse. The worst episode I had was when I was in my science class, on the very top floor of my school.
My vision started getting distorted, going black and seeing the room shifting, while my breathing got deeper and quicker. I just dropped onto my desk and wasn’t able to move any part of my body. My ears started ringing and my friends and classmates tried to help me but only made it worse since I then started worrying about how insane I looked to these people.
Two teachers, my own and one from a class next door, had to come in and physically drag me outside. I was taken into an elevator which also made it worse, and everything just shifted. Like my body just dropped. I was taken into a room while I waited for my parents to come and get me.
My aunt has struggled with mental issues her whole life, but when her husband of nearly 40 years left her, she spiraled pretty quickly. The family was notified by a neighbor that they hadn’t seen her for weeks and when they entered the house—they came upon a downright nightmare: She had defecated in several rooms and would only crawl along the floor.
She has been hospitalized ever since.
There’s a phenomenon called “sundowning” where elderly people completely lose it when it gets dark and then become rational when the sun comes back up. I spent several nights trying to keep my 80-year old aunt in her hospital bed while she raved about fire on the ceiling, people trying to come in her window, and the dog under the bed.
All the while, she screamed her head off, cursing me for not letting her get up and do the dishes. I was physically and emotionally exhausted by 6 am, when she calmly turned her head and asked about my children.
16. Same Truck, Different Day
I have bipolar disorder. A few years after I was diagnosed, I had a manic episode. Although I had been taking my meds, I became very paranoid. I had visual hallucinations. Most were just movements out of the corner of my eye. But then I started to see the same truck in my rearview mirror no matter where I was driving. Not a small truck, but a large, menacing semi.
I also heard whispers all the time that I couldn’t quite understand. I ended up in the hospital for several weeks.
17. A Break From The Past
I was the only kid home, probably 14 at the time, and heard my parents arguing very, very loudly. I was fed up with it, so I thought, “Why not confront them?” I burst out of my room and looked down over the stairway and entrance to find my mom screaming at the screen front door, and what I heard made my blood run cold.
I froze for a while and realized that she was having some sort of flashback to the day her father left their family when she was a kid. She was screaming “Daddy! Daddy! Please! Please don’t go!! Come back!!!” in a truly nightmarish wail. That was the first time I witnessed one of her psychotic breaks. Unfortunately, since then, I’ve had more practice than any child should trying to care for her during these episodes.
18. Too Much Work
The desk job I was working was the absolute worst, and no matter what I did, I constantly felt exploited. But it wasn’t always like that. To begin with, my uncle (the manager) scored me the job, and it was a pretty straightforward desk job. My uncle made sure none of the other people in management exploited me by giving me tasks outside of my job description.
Then, he got laid off by the owners and I instantly lost my support. Suddenly, I reported to three different people and had to run around the warehouse like a mad man. But that wasn’t all. One of my bosses wanted me to start doing tax-based stuff, something I wasn’t trained for nor hired in for. He’d ask for graph charts of our stock but not explain what he wanted correctly so I’d have to do the job five times over until he was happy.
No one considered me a friend because they all worked on the production floor, and I was a desk jockey. Anyway, one day I woke up to get ready for work and I just felt off. There was this sense of dread looming over me. I got into work, and it only got worse. It didn’t help that my bosses wanted a bunch of ambiguous reports that made no sense, and at that point, I couldn’t deal with getting grilled.
As the day went on, I got more and more anxious, got the shakes, and at one point the vision in my left eye went out. I knew it was bad when I looked out the glass doors to the extremely busy street full of trucks and honestly considered walking out onto the road instead of being there. I submitted my work only for it to be rejected, switched off my PC, and bolted.
I barely made it home before I broke down. The revelation I had that day changed everything. I came to realize that the job wasn’t worth my life and spent the next few days talking to a doctor and thinking about going back to college. It was perhaps the lowest point I ever got to and I never wanna be that way again.
19. Deny, Deny, Deny
The day that my father passed, we were all emotionally drained and went home to rest. My grandmother decided to take a nap and when she woke up she had no recollection of dad passing away, or even being sick. She insisted that he was perfectly fine, and we were all joking. She had no idea how she got there, or of many events that had happened leading up to that moment.
So on the most heart-wrenching day of my life, I had to reiterate to my grandmother every five to ten minutes that my father was gone and the story of what had happened. We took her to emergency after a couple of hours and everything seemed to be fine. A couple of days later, she was back to normal. This is still the freakiest thing I’ve ever witnessed.
20. Oh Dear God
My school day seemed like any other day until this girl comes in late and announces her presence to everyone. Okay, weird. Then she goes and sits down, and starts scribbling on a piece of paper furiously. While the professor continues his lecture, she proceeds to lie down on the floor; she starts singing, humming, and mumbling louder and louder until the professor notices and walks over to her to ask her if she’s okay.
She says she drew him a picture and hands him the sheet of paper she’d been working on. And then the religious rant begins. At this point, her eyes are wide and frantic, and she seems desperate for people to come and follow God. When the professor decides to end the lecture early, she says something like, “Don’t go just because he says to go! Stay!” and stuff like that. Unsurprisingly, we never saw her again.
21. Who’s Rose?
My mother is currently in a psych ward. We thought she had been talking to someone who wasn’t there, but she’d just say she was talking to herself when we asked. She had a history of mental health issues. Last Friday she started screaming at someone named Rose who wanted to drag her away and she didn’t want to go. Hearing this, my dad took her to the emergency room.
She has been in for just over a week and has shown some improvement but is still talking to Rose. Rose is telling her she’s in trouble and is saying not to tell her family she loves us.
22. A Horrible Monster
When I was 10, my mother had a breakdown that turned her into a monster. She spent an entire night hitting and kicking me, making me tell her I hate her and screaming all sorts of things. She had broken her leg a few months before and on top of a chronic condition, she was no longer able to work. Seeing my mom turn into this horrible demon terrified me.
Later that night, she cooled down, gave me a couple of painkillers, and cried while apologizing. I’ll still never forget how she looked the entire time she was doing that.
23. Out Of Control
When I was 14 I was hospitalized after hurting myself. While I was in the psych ward, I completely broke down. I cried all the time, I could barely sleep, I felt nauseous all the time, I was shaking so hard I remember spilling water in my lap just trying to bring a Styrofoam cup to my lips. I even refused to eat for a little while, in the hopes I would just fade away.
When it was visiting hours every day, I couldn’t control myself. I remember crying and begging my parents to either take me out of that place or just let me die. Normally I have fairly good control over how I express my outward emotions, but there, it was as if I completely regressed in age. I remember screaming at the nurses. But that was only the beginning.
I would hyperventilate when they locked the door to my room at night because I was shut in there alone. I despised the lack of human contact and the utter loneliness I felt at night. I would just lay awake in bed, crying, hyperventilating, shaking, and begging for them to just unlock the door so I could sit in the hallway. I just wanted to be able to see another human being.
It was, without a doubt, the worst time in my life. It scares me to know how awful my personality can get when I’m trapped like that. I wasn’t myself. I had no control. Eventually, I faked a “recovery” and lied and tried to only cry at night when I was alone so they would let me out of the hospital. After only two days, the gig was up. I had another explosive panic attack and they found me out.
The worst part was this wasn’t a one-day-long mental breakdown. It was a full week of never having any moments of peace. My heart was constantly racing, and I never settled down into the environment as the other patients did. I didn’t know that level of panic and anxiety was even sustainable, but it was. Even when I did manage to sleep, my rest was never peaceful. Sweet dreams didn’t exist—only nightmares.
24. Math Is The Worst
A friend of mine who is still one of my best friends had a mental breakdown during math class. She was known for her mental issues but at that time, it was out of control. She cried at the board because she was overthinking everything. And the worst part of all? The entire class was laughing at her. I just wanted to scream out and rant to all those jerks about how they are such horrible people, but I couldn’t.
She is okay now, but that moment just grinds my gears to this day.
25. Tea With The Queen
I take care of an elderly British woman living in the Midwest, and she gets very upset every other day because she thinks she is late for tea with the queen. She’s very sweet so we usually just take her back to her room to get ready and dress her in fancy clothes for tea. By the time we are done she’s usually forgotten about the queen but is still vibrantly happy that she’s decked out in fancy clothes and shoes.
26. Chilled To The Bone
My ex-boyfriend had a severe panic attack one night and went outside in just boxers in the middle of winter. He lay down in the snow in the fetal position and cried his eyes out. I had never experienced this before and it freaked me out as I wasn’t sure how to deal with it. He didn’t seem to recognize me or his surroundings.
I managed to get him into the house and after some time he snapped out of it. He didn’t remember any of it happening!
27. Another Roommate
One day, my roommate in college just snapped. She got really paranoid and started lashing out at me and our other friends. She’d plant herself in other dorm rooms and refuse to leave. But that wasn’t the worst part. She also refused to sleep because she was afraid someone would break in and try to take advantage of her. It got to the point where none of us knew what to do.
Trying to talk to her was really unnerving because there was just a disconnect that is hard to describe, and the stuff she was saying just didn’t make sense. Her mom eventually came down and began making a scene with her on campus. Campus security showed up and she ended up getting in a fight with them and kicking a window out of one of their cars.
This all happened over the course of a few days. She was hospitalized for a while and had to leave school. She was always a little emotional and had some family problems but this was all pretty shocking and unexpected. I really think it was a combo of drinking and too much recreational Adderall that brought it on. She was always a bit of a partier and had been doing it right before it all started.
It was pretty scary and sad. I never saw her again and I’m not sure how she ended up.
28. He’s About To Blow
A buddy of mine had a serious temper issue, but his freakouts always came in these weird 10-second bursts. They were short but intense. He’d completely lose control: yelling, throwing tools (or whatever he could get his hands on), cursing to high heaven, you name it. And then, in the blink of an eye, it would be over. Afterward, he’d be really embarrassed about it and apologize.
Even so, I still worry that one day, some innocent passerby will fall victim to one of his inexplicable breakdowns.
29. Attack Of The Mommy Issues
This lady I used to work for once told me about her college roommate who had a childlike regression style breakdown. Apparently, her mom was one of those pageant moms and was super hard on her during her childhood which gave her some serious deep-seated issues. One evening, right before she was about to head out for a night on the town, her roommate had an episode so terrible—it scared the living daylights out of her.
Out of nowhere, the girl began babbling and talking like a little girl about how her mom buys her panties with butterflies on them. They wound up having to call the girl’s mom to come and get her because she was freaking out so bad—like, crying uncontrollably in the corner bad. After that, it didn’t get any better, and sadly, she dropped out shortly after.
30. Seeing Demons
I was about to go into a building for a lecture when I saw a girl sitting on a park bench. Something made me ask her if she was okay and when I said that, she burst into tears. She told me that everyone was turning into demons. For some reason, she knew that I was not a demon. Obviously, she was schizophrenic and hallucinating, but it was interesting to me to observe.
She was probably someone whose religious education was providing input to their hallucinations, which I believe is not uncommon. I helped her calm down and call her sister. I waited with her until her sister arrived to help her home. I had so much respect for this girl. Going to class was so easy for me but she had to struggle through so much to come to college.
31. A Stressed Out Mess
In one of my classes, at the end of a lecture, my professor asked if anyone had questions. One girl decided this was the perfect opportunity to deliver the most embarrassing monologue I’ve ever heard. She talked to the class about how, above all else, we should prioritize our health and God, and that that was the reason she’d skipped out on the midterm earlier that week.
It sounded kind of like she wanted us to all come together and tell the professor the class was too hard. I think most of us found it pretty funny. She got kind of desperate and more religious towards the end of her speech and then broke down altogether. Luckily, my professor interrupted this sad display, ended the class, and promised to talk to her in private.
He was a super nice guy and sent out a survey asking about how we were all finding the workload. I also think he got the campus security, or someone from the health department, to talk to her about her stress.
32. Nerd Alert
There is a guy in school who didn’t save his work after 10+ hours. In animation, that’s like a lifetime. We have a room at school full of Wacom Cintiq tablets, which are kind of like an iPad Pro. Our room also has a projector and screen. He got up on the tables that had the tablets, and tried to rip down the projector, and then tried to rip down the screen.
He started knocking over Cintiq tablets, running up and down the hallways, and punching walls. The entirety of the school’s security had to be called in to stop him. There’s a guy in our class who is the only one who seems to be able to calm him down. Eventually, we got the situation under control.
I had started feeling super weird—like something was off. I started hearing voices, mostly my own name but other stuff too. As time went on, I felt increasingly strange. In November, I had a nightmarish episode: I was in the shower, and suddenly the walls started melting on top of me, my hair was on fire, and my bones were shattering inside my skin. I couldn’t move for 10 minutes.
As far as I knew, the whole world was breaking into pieces, and everyone I knew was gone. This happened again 30 minutes later while I was driving, but far worse. When I found out the dark truth—it all started to make sense. Turns out, I was developing a severe panic disorder, which was the start of schizophrenia! I’m still pretty high-functioning, but my life is a shadow of what it was before.
I miss it, but I have to learn to like this new way of life too.
34. Teaching Woes
I had a French teacher lose it when a kid said the class made her want to harm herself. Next thing we know, the teacher is sobbing and proceeds to tell us all about her failing marriage, her husband’s opioid addiction, and how she can’t even afford therapy because the school slashed the health plan again. I quietly gave her the card for my old therapist who worked on sliding scale fees after class.
35. Let It All Out
When my daughter was three, I couldn’t get her to stay in her bed. It was just one of those nights where she just didn’t want to go to bed. About the fourth time she got up, I got frustrated with her and put her in bed and sternly told her to “GO TO SLEEP,” and promptly left the room. I was trying to be firm and consistent with my message. It’s your bedtime. Get in bed and stay there.
As I left the room she starts yelling in a voice I’d never heard her use before “Daddy I love you I love you I love you” I turned around went back into her room held her and just cried. I cried like a baby. I hurt SO much at that moment. I was thinking no one ever loved me, my wife hates me, my parents were always mean to me and I’ve tried so hard to be a great dad. That moment just broke me.
I cried and hugged her and she cried, and when it was over, I explained to her calmly how much I love her but how important it was that she sticks to her bedtime. After that, we never had another problem.
36. An Accident
A kid in high school drove his truck straight into a cement-bottom light pole. He was a sports star, valedictorian, and a very popular guy who everyone loved. He and his girlfriend broke up and he snapped. He was out of school for over a year. When he came back he was still a really nice guy, but much more subdued than he had been before the accident.
37. Out Of Body
I’d been struggling at work for a while for a number of reasons and ended up being signed off for two weeks to try and get some rest. I knew I wasn’t ready to go back to work, but I was so terrified that I would be fired that I went back anyway. I lasted a month. On my last day at work, I remember crying on the train on the way in, but it felt like I was outside my body, watching myself.
I remember thinking that I passed two shops on my way to work and could get two boxes of paracetamol in each shop on the way into work and two more from each shop on the way home, so I’d have eight boxes of 16 which should be enough to finish the job. I couldn’t stop crying while I was in the office and eventually, the woman who sat next to me told my manager who took me into a room with HR and they sent me home.
I went to my doctor the next morning and was off completely for three months in total and it took me almost a year before I was able to work full time again. Thankfully I’m doing much better now with the right balance of medication and even though we have a lot of family stuff going on I’m able to deal with it and still function which is a huge improvement!
38. Deployment Horrors
The worst breakdown I’ve witnessed happened when I was deployed. I won’t go into the whole mission because it’s a long story and not necessary to explain what happened to this one person. There was a group of small children that ranged from ages seven to eleven, maybe older. We could only determine their ages by their size.
They were all badly burnt and the skin on their faces had melted. None of them looked human, more like some wax effigy for some macabre art gallery. Anyway…Our medic came up the small embankment and saw it all. I’ve seen people lose the light in their eyes before; it’s as though a switch gets turned off. But this was the first time I saw it happen to someone who stayed alive and well.
The life in the doctor’s eyes just went away. As if life said, “And that’s the last thing you will ever see.” Doc walked around aimlessly trying to put the children back together and eventually our first sergeant had to wrestle him down because he refused to leave. He didn’t scream, didn’t talk—he did nothing. It was the creepiest thing I’d ever seen. But even so, the worst was yet to come.
After a few weeks, he starts talking to himself. We all see him throughout the night, walking around just muttering to himself. He would hit himself in the head sometimes as well. Our first sergeant who was the crustiest of the crust type of guy sat down with him and talked to the doc. Doc just sat there with that blank look. No life. They ended up sending him home due to combat ineffectiveness.
39. Chemistry Questions
When I was a sophomore in high school I had chemistry first period. Everyone was tired and nobody was really in any mood to answer the questions. After the teacher asked a question and no one gave the answer after 30 seconds, her face got all red and she started freaking out and screaming, “How am I supposed to know that I’m a good teacher if you guys won’t answer the questions!?!?”
She sat there and cried for the remainder of the period. She wasn’t a terrible teacher, but she was very unstable.
40. Hidden Cameras
My boyfriend’s brother at age 29 had a mental breakdown while he was living with us. He thought that detectives put cameras in our apartment and that they were pointing lasers through the windows late at night. The light switch cover was missing a screw, and he was convinced that there was a camera in the hole where the screw should have been.
He would come home breathless and scared saying that a red Jeep was following him around town. The worst of it came when he barged into mine and my boyfriend’s room at 5 a.m., claiming he had been mugged in the field behind our house. The truth was he had passed out in the field behind our house. Soon enough, we found out the dark truth: He was an addict.
We tried to help him by hosting an intervention and talking to his parents. He just got really mad, called me every name in the book then moved out.
41. Living In A Dream
I had a liver problem when I was pretty young. It turns out, having a messed-up liver screws up your consciousness…big time. It’d hit, I’d lie in bed for two weeks straight, stuck in a cycle of sleeping for one hour with messed-up dreams, waking up in sleep paralysis, barely being able to walk to the toilet, coming back to bed for another hour of sleep.
The catch was, I couldn’t tell when I was dreaming and when I was awake. I didn’t know which of my memories were false (only made in dreams) and which ones were real. I had no sense of time, and I couldn’t tell night from day. I’d feel like I was bedridden for months. Then, as abruptly as it started, it would be over. And all of a sudden, I’d feel so much better.
Except, I still couldn’t tell which memories were real. Every time I got better, it took me weeks to get accommodated to the “new reality”. The doorbell in my house sounded completely different than I remembered; my dog was a different breed; some of the friends I clearly remembered visiting me when I was ill seemed to never have existed.
Yet when I questioned my parents about it, they denied all of it. “We’ve had the doorbell since before you were born,” “we never had another dog,” “nobody else was here when you were ill.” When my liver stopped acting up, I cracked and had a massive, years-long identity crisis. I had somehow convinced myself that I didn’t exist.
I remembered things that never happened extremely vividly; I remembered living in a different house in a different city, all the friends I had there, a different school. I had pretty much no memories of reality. I felt like someone or something robbed me of 14 years of my life. I spent the next two years just going to school, sitting through the classes, barely talking to anybody.
After classes I’d come back home, I would lock myself in my room and usually go straight to bed. At 18, I moved out, got a job, and cut off everything and everyone that linked me to the past I felt wasn’t mine. Soon after, I started seeing a psychiatrist, got a heavy dose of antipsychotics and antidepressants. It took three more years of treatment before I felt better. I have barely any memories of the better half of my life, but I’m okay now.
42. The Girl’s Got Hooks
My dad had a girl who used to work for him and had more of a gradual breakdown. She began to take an interest in him and would call him late at night, asking odd questions, such as what church he went to and what time he liked to go to the gym. He would always see her in those places afterward, and she would act like it was a coincidence. This girl was trouble.
Eventually, she called my dad screaming and crying one day that her dog was attacking her and wouldn’t let her leave her apartment, so he called people to come to her place. When they showed up, she was in the fetal position in the corner of her room and her dog, a tiny Shih Tzu, was just sitting by her door quietly, not doing anything.
She went MIA for a few months then came into my dad’s shop one day and explained that she’d had a mental breakdown and was in the hospital for a bit. She apologized for harassing him.
43. Off The Hinges
I have struggled with anxiety, depression, and rage since my teens, but I have never had a full breakdown until about a year ago when I just snapped. I don’t remember what set me off but I kind of remember leaving myself for a moment, getting a first-person view of myself ripping a door off its hinges and throwing it downstairs, and then punching through a wall.
Despite all this, I make it to the living room. Once there, I just started sobbing, drooling, seething through gritted teeth, snot flying from my nose. I started smashing my head onto the floor and tried to tear it open with my bare hands. My wife approaches me, trying to calm me down. She almost touches me and I just remember hurling words at her.
I don’t remember much after that, but while I’m seated on the couch and she’s dressing my self-inflicted head wound, she tells me that my next freak out will force her to send me to a hospital, medical or otherwise.
44. Mass Posting
I watched a casual friend that was schizophrenic slowly spiral when he was off his meds. He posted about once a minute for 18 hours on a site we were involved with. It was scary and sad how fast someone can separate from reality.
45. Detox Problems
My father had detox-related dementia twice, the first time for a couple of weeks, and the second time for a number of months. He recovered both times almost fully, but it was pretty bad each time it happened. Both times we had to deal with it, he had to deal with full hospitalization and stay at a skilled nursing facility.
46. A Challenging Day
When the Challenger exploded, my third-grade teacher suffered a complete meltdown. It was supposed to be an exciting day. They had wheeled in the media cart with that old CRT beauty strapped to the top. When the shuttle blew up and the boosters flew off wildly, even us eight-year-olds could tell, “That really doesn’t seem right…”
Then we heard her crying, and when we looked to the back of the room, she was on the floor. She was crying so hard we couldn’t talk to her. For the next couple of minutes, she kept flipping between being catatonic and crazy. There was one of those phones on the wall that looked like a rotary dial phone without the dial. We weren’t supposed to touch it, but we knew if you picked it up, it automatically called the office.
After some “but we’ll get in trouble” type debating, myself and another kid picked it up and told the office lady, “Our teacher is crying really hard and won’t talk. We don’t know what to do.” They were in the process of getting buses there to let school out early, but a few minutes later the school nurse and the assistant principal came in.
The teacher left with the nurse and the AP sat with us and answered questions until we were dismissed. We didn’t see the teacher again for a couple of months. She had been very excited about the shuttle launch and a teacher getting to go into space. A rumor I heard as I got older was that she had also been in the middle of a nasty divorce and custody battle at that time.
The shuttle was the straw that broke the camel’s back, and she had a nervous breakdown in class. I have no idea if the stuff about her personal life is true, but I definitely think we witnessed a breakdown. She was always one of my favorite teachers and she still was when she came back. I hope life turned out okay for her.
47. Fifteen Again
My current wife used to have episodes of stress-induced amnesia. She’s been treated for the condition and it turns out it’s a coping mechanism developed as a result of childhood trauma. She would have a panic attack, pass out, and wake up a short time later not aware of anything that passed after a certain memory from years prior.
The worst episode reverted her to her 15-year-old self and it lasted for three hours. Thankfully I knew her at 15, so she somewhat recognized me, but she was freaked out to wake up in an apartment, in her pajamas, alone with me. Also thankfully, we had taken her childhood dog to live with us, so his presence managed to calm her down a bit.
I showed her some pictures from our life between 15 and then and then we ate pizza and watched Friends until she snapped out of it. She always gets a sudden migraine like a headache and then she remembers.
48. Chair Flip
I had a teacher in middle school who was basically a huge pushover. He had a sad reputation for not knowing how to control his class, and obviously, little mean 13-year-olds took advantage of that. Anyway, one day he snapped and threw a chair through the window panel next to the front door of his classroom. We never saw the teacher again.
49. First Week Of School
This was still the saddest thing I ever witnessed. It was the first weekend of college. I was a freshman, and I heard this girl outside getting absolutely trashed. I had a soccer game the next day so I was just in my room relaxing but came out once I heard all the commotion. This girl was being transported to the hospital because she was so sick.
She was crying and kept asking if she would be able to see her dad when she got to the hospital. The paramedics were telling her “of course she would,” as they wheeled her away. About a month later, I saw a post on Facebook from the same girl—and it made me sick to my stomach. The post revealed that it was the three-month anniversary of her dad’s death. Never have I ever felt just absolutely horrible for someone.
50. Fast Food Frenzy
Witnessed a complete and total mental breakdown at McDonald’s. An employee got overwhelmed by lunch hour traffic and started screaming and yelling and swearing in front of kids and an officer. The employee even pushed an elderly employee who fell down and she was promptly taken away by the officer. All of it went down in less than a minute.