Once upon a time, somebody told me that crying was the female equivalent of an erection. Entirely elusive when it would come in handy (you know- funerals or when you’re trying to get out of stuff), but quite likely to show up uninvited at inopportune moments (such as meetings or in the middle of a tryst). Of course, there is certainly an irony that an actual erection would be very useful whilst ‘getting it on’ and would be entirely frowned upon at a funeral. But despite their opposite appropriateness within different contexts, the analogy made sense- a bodily reaction to emotion, that is extremely hard to suppress or subsequently hide.
My first response was to lament the gender stereotyping of emotion, although rightly or wrongly, it is certainly true that within our society it is far more acceptable for a woman to cry than a man and secondly it made me consider my own battle with tears. Reader, I must tell you…I have a lot of ‘erections’.
From two old people on ‘First Dates’ agreeing to go on a cruise together, to running out of orange squash, it takes only the tiniest of twinges on my emotional heartstrings to set me off. I can go from sunny to flood-level warnings in the time it takes you to say “I’m disappointed in you.”
God, that one’s a killer.
As I’ve mentioned before, with a mental-illness diagnosis floating above your head, it’s extremely hard to not become analytical (and critical) of your behaviours. Convinced the habit was both over-indulgent and socially mortifying, crying was near the top of my list of behaviours I ought to learn how to control or suppress.
But a letter from a friend on the opposite side of the world made me reconsider. She rightly highlighted that even if certain aspects of your character are related to you being a little bit mad, they’re still a piece of your personal little jigsaw nonetheless. Should you seek to change who you are, or should you embrace your quirks?
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t enjoy crying, but I’ve come to terms with the fact that I wear my heart on my sleeve. We cry for a reason, it serves a cathartic purpose. Personally, I suffer from such intensity of emotions, that I often get confused and almost delirious. Crying is my way of clearing the fog. I can’t be the only one? I’m not a scientist, but I’m certain that crying is good for you. Obviously, there is only so much debris in one’s eye, that needs clearing out, but it’s benefits go beyond that.
It allows you to unapologetically give way to a biological reaction. A release of pressure, that accounts for the stress relieving chemical released by your brain when you cry. I also read that you are far more likely to survive an encounter with a predator if you react to confrontation by crying as opposed to showing aggression. So essentially, it could also save you from being eaten by a lion.
Whilst we’re on the subject of vulnerability, crying gets a notoriously bad rep for making you appear weak. Does being emotional have to equate to weakness? Have we considered that it takes sheer strength to be willing to be emotionally vulnerable.
Yet, whilst I’ve come to embrace being tear-happy (if you will), my extensive experience of being a cry baby has also made me greatly respect the people who put up with my sobbing. It’s also taught me that certain reactions to my tears are preferable to others. My favourite reaction is awkward people, those who probably only cry once a year and try to comfort me by patting my head. The look of panic on their face makes me laugh and then I feel ok again. The most idiotic reaction is the people that get annoyed- which simply prolongs the crying.
So there we have it, I think crying is fucking fantastic and I award it a solid Four Stars.In fact, the only reason it isn’t five stars is because it makes my eyes puffy (categorically not sexy).
I’m not saying that you should go and pinch yourself until you cry, but maybe indulge yourself next time you feel a lump rising in your throat, I guarantee you you’ll feel a whole lot better afterwards. Similarly, don’t be a knobber if someone cries in front of you, make a joke, give them a hug and swiftly move on. Biology needn’t be a big deal.
In return I will make a considerate effort to stop crying when I think of Alan Rickman, or to not ever cry in front of you.