It is helpful and despair work to realize that going to pieces or falling apart is not such a bad thing. Indeed, it is essential to evolutionary and psychic transformation. For the individuals who, in confronting current anomalies of experience, allows positive disintegration to happen, it can bring a dark night of the soul, a time of spiritual void and turbulence. But the anxieties and doubts are creative, not only for the person but for society, because they permit new and original approaches to reality.
What "disintegrates" in periods of rapid transformation is not the self, of course, but its defenses and ideas. We are not objects that can break. We are open systems, whirlpools in a river of the ever flowing water, patterns that perpetuate themselves.
We do not need to protect ourselves from change, for our very nature is change. Defensive self-protection, restricting vision and movement like a suit of armor, makes it harder to adapt. It not only reduces flexibility, but blocks the flow of information we need to survive. Our "going to pieces," however uncomfortable a process, can open us up to new perceptions, new data, the responses.
From World as Lover, World as Self, by Joanna Macy, www.joannamacy.net