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Posts tagged ‘depression’

Depression and emotions

Some years ago, I started to have phases where I didn’t feel anything. It was really weird because it was new to me. It felt wrong and left me with no motivation to do anything. Emotions are my motivator. Why should I do anything when I neither like nor dislike any of the possible outcomes?

Now, several years later, I am learning to feel again. That sounds really strange. Fact is, I cannot really control whether I feel anything. It usually depends on how stressed I am and some other factors. And even when I feel something, it’s rare that it has the intensity and rich facets my emotions used to have.
Like I said: no emotions, no motivation. I also struggle to remember days (and months, and years :/) when I didn’t feel a lot. And well, you don’t feel good. So I’m trying to get my feelings back.

Step one was the realization that I should feel my feelings.
All of this sounds really strange if feelings are an integral part of your life. But as long as I’ve been depressed, my motivator haven been my thoughts. I am over-thinking and analyzing everything. I am trying to think my way into feeling better. That’s really difficult. And, you know, also not really healthy after some point.
But the sentence “feel your feelings” really helped me because not feeling anything was a sign, I realized, that I was suppressing feelings. – This makes sense, as my numbness started when I felt really really trapped and desperate while still living with my parents. I couldn’t get out so I had to turn my feelings off or I wouldn’t have been able to deal with the awfulness of the situation and the fact that the people who created the awfulness were people, who were supposed to care for me.

So what did “feel your feelings” do for me?
It opened a pit of despair, fear and sadness. – Okay, I know, this does not really sound like you want to go through that. For me it meant, beside some other things, that I felt scared for two straight days without knowing the source. I also cried repeatedly for a long time because I realized just how much I felt left alone and without support from my mother. I was angry and just really sad and infuriated that I didn’t have parents, who were supportive and caring. Instead they were self-absorbed and full of so much fear they didn’t think about anyone else.
At the time, I didn’t know when it would end. But not facing these feelings hadn’t worked so I might as well face them?
As I said, I cried repeatedly and the last time I did, it felt like I would again and again because everything was SO fucked up. But. I didn’t. Turns out, I had grieved enough. (At least concerning this particular topic.)

Feeling these strong feelings did have positive effects. I noticed that the symptoms I had due to stress got at least a bit better. It opened the possibility for me to feel nice feelings that don’t hurt. (Sometimes.) It stopped some of the thought cycles because they were no longer fed by these emotions that desperately tried to come out. And the numbness went away, at least a little bit. You cannot suppress difficult feelings and keep the nice ones.
You can only suppress all the emotions or feel all the emotions. There isn’t really much in between.

I will write about the more nuanced approach I follow now another time. But I want to say one more thing: Feelings are not your enemy, even if they make you feel like shit (like, I dunno, grief and fear). They help you navigate your surrounding in a save way (fear) and help you stay emotionally (and in concequence also physically) healthy (grief). It can be really hard to let them be, but there always is a way through and the way through is what you need to take to get to the other side, feeling better.


Strategy: working

I have a hard time not working too much at once/really taking breaks. I always feel like I could (when I’m not depressed) or should (when I’m depressed) do more. I also don’t manage to choose reasonable times for breaks (they are usually too short/I end up doing something anyway.) So I have a new idea: when I prepare something for uni/do paperwork or anything that’s definitely not free time, I’ll write down how long I have been working on it. This way, at the end of the day, I can look back and have a more realistic view on what I’ve actually achieved. Hopefully, it will also help reduce my anxiety of not doing EVERYTHING NOW and help with taking breaks because I deserve them.

Life in progress

There is this good old problem that, when I feel good for once, I think, “From now on, it will be like this forever.” Nope, it won’t. But I really like to believe it. In order to change this, because like this, disappointment is inevitable and self-blaming is likely to follow, I try to accept that I just am a certain way.
I still have this concept of “being normal” in my head an it doesn’t help a bit. There is no “normal”. There is just a huuuuge range of personalities, bodies, habits, mental states and so on. So now, I try to keep in mind that I am special. I am special in the sense that I, like everyone else, need certain accommodations to help me live my life in a satisfying way. If I don’t eat and sleep regularly, I feel bad. If I don’t manage to control my perfectionism, I am mentally (and physically) running myself into the ground. If I don’t get enough sunlight and exercise, I get even more depressed. All of these accommodations are necessary because I am me. Even if they change, they will be replaced with other necessities and it’s fine. Selfcare is fine stuff. No need to apologize for being your own authentic self.

Aromantic, what is this even?

I’m aromantic. This means that I do not feel romantic attraction. Well, at least I haven’t until now. And I don’t really get what this loving stuff is all about. I mean, I like my friends, some relatives, cute animals 😉 but I don’t understand the urge to be with one person alone (not ‘alone in a room’ but ‘in a relationship that’s based on romantic attraction with only one person’). I know sexual attraction, I know how it is to really look forward to meeting certain people, but I don’t know the feeling that makes you want to spend all your time with one person. Or a lot of your time, or whatever.

What annoys me about this isn’t the facts, it’s our society.
A lot of people say “I love hir” when they mean “I want to fuck hir”. And this is really annoying to me because it’s imprecise. There are a lot of different people on this world, who want a lot of different things, but if you don’t articulate what you want in correct words, you feed into the main (western) narrative about heterosexual coupledom, nuclear families and so forth. This doesn’t help anyone. It works much better if you find your own words for what works for you. Maybe you want a homosexual relationship with a woman, but don’t like kissing. Or you want an asexual romantic relationship with two other adults and raise children with them. Or … you get the point.

Maybe my feelings will change. Maybe I will fall in love with a woman or a man or a genderqueer person. Maybe my feelings will change when I get rid of the remaining depressed feelings. But I will always try to understand what I really want and communicate it as well as possible.

Yeah, okay, feel

I almost forgot I have to feel my feelings. But I tend to assume that I’ll always feel well when I feel well at one moment. That’s why I was confused today because I wasn’t happy. I have been working hard for the last weeks to clear my head and create a healthy daily routine. It worked. I felt better. But the last four days were strange. I didn’t sleep well and I felt numb all day. This afternoon, I came up with a word: sadness. Maybe there was still sadness inside of me that wanted to be felt. Or something else entirely? Anger? Frustration? So I let it out. I felt scared and lonely and sad. And I also felt a tiny bit like myself.

So keep in mind: no nice feelings without feelings which require work.