I've come to realise that my mind uses crying like currency. 

Over the years I have fought desperately to control when, where and with whom I cry. It could be that I'm with my family and watching something on TV (Christmas ads, long-lost family reunions etc.) and even though I feel the hot press of tears behind my face, I refuse to let them fall. 

Then there are the times when I want to have a cry just for the cathartic surge of feeling something - so I stick The Notebook on or Hillary's concession speech, or something like that. Then I find, surprise surprise, that nothing comes. I'm focusing so hard on something that feels like it should be so easy and simple but yet is so elusive.

This is something I haven’t really spoken to my friends about. It feels like such an odd problem - I'm too uptight to let myself cry. Yet I wouldn’t be surprised if there are many more millennials out there who feel and do the same.

(After all, our generation has a lot to cry about and I'm pretty sure that at least some of you must be weird control freaks like me. The joys of being a young person in 2016, eh?)

Oh, and aside from all the political, social, environmental and cultural disasters currently raging on out in the big bad world, there’s also that funny little thing called life ticking along in the background. And all the myriads of crises and catastrophes that that brings.

Yet we're still very much in the mindset of "keep calm and carry on" and "man up" and all that jazz. And it's just not healthy or helpful, for anyone. 

Last year, as I started my MSc, I suddenly felt as though I’d lost my ability to think. I was simultaneously getting ready to begin my PhD the following year and so was having lots of in depth conversations with academics about theories and studies and applications. I was handed a huge data set from a previous study that my supervisors wanted me to comb through and analyse.

A standard task that I had been well trained for during my bachelors degree. But my mind could not handle it. Information would come towards me in meetings and then just bounce off my ears. I would just sit there and nod vacantly and pray they wouldn’t ask for my opinion. At home, I stared at the data set in despair, unsure of how and where I was going to start.

In short, it felt as though my brain had gotten a cramp. Why was this happening? Was it just the stress of starting postgrad life?

And then, one day, I started thinking about things. In particular, thinking about what had happened a few months earlier, something I had managed to pretty much entirely block out.

I thought about the terrible, terrible months of sitting, watching and waiting as Michele’s father died. Of being absolutely incapable of doing anything to stop the slow and inevitable car crash of events. Of feeling so powerless to help these two people that I loved so much whilst the stream of friends and family members would pass through the rooms, touching my shoulder and telling me not to cry because I had to be strong for Michele. Of being 1000 miles away from my home and feeling so alone. Of bottling it up and finally coming back to England feeling like I was full to burst of something I couldn’t let out. Of not actually talking about it whilst my friends and family carried on as everything was normal (and then, annoyingly, being treated like I was the neglectful one because I wasn't quite myself and hadn't been as supportive as usual. Soz about that...)

Surprise, surprise, as I sat there and thought about everything that had happened, I cried! I didn’t try and stop myself for once and I didn’t force it… I just let it go through me, organically.

And it was glorious. And I had a whole evening of binging on this wonderful feeling of actual emotions rising up through me, radiating from my chest and pouring out into the world. I wasn't a robot, who the hell knew?!

The next day, I was switched on and engaged in my meeting. I opened the data set up and began to pick through it, looking for a solution to the problems we’d identified and turning it into something we could analyse and use.

Now that I've had this experience, I can look back and see that this happens with me quite predictably. Something truly devastating happens, I lock it up and try to control my response and instead become this emotionless vessel that’s hardly able to function.

So I guess the point is… it’s good to let it all out. We’re told to put on a show, man up, keep others happy etc. but it only serves to reduce our capacity for living.

I haven’t learnt to be completely free in my crying but I hope I’m going to get there. I hope I can learn to just have a little cry in front of others, even if it means being vulnerable and showing them just how soppy I am when it comes to films and Christmas adverts.

And on that note, here are some of my top tear-jerkers to get the ball rolling...

1 The 2016 Waitrose ad

This isn't even remotely sad. But there's something about a) the kindness of that fisherman and b) the determination of that robin that makes me well up. Just the end shot of the two robins chirping around their mince pie and I'm gone.

2 The 2015 Edeka ad

This one from German supermarket Edeka is absolutely brutal. But (*spoiler alert*), it isn't the loneliness of the old Grandpa that makes me sob, it's the reaction of his family when they arrive at the house and see him walk into the room. The idea of finding someone you thought you'd lost and getting a second chance... the way they burst into tears... oh God it's too late for me and I'm not even watching the bloody thing! (Maybe this is why I've always fought to control it because if I didn't it would never end.)

3 The 2016 parody of the John Lewis ad

No explanation needed.

What are your thoughts? Do you struggle to let it out or struggle to contain it? And what are your fail-proof comfort-sob triggers?