Allowing Myself to Feel (Happy)

I have never been comfortable talking about any positive aspects of my life, possibly why whenever something good does happen or is happening I only tend to briefly mention it before moving on to the next more negative topics I’m dealing with. In fact any emotion that I am feeling that I don’t have a sensible justification for feeling that way, I often make myself feel like shit for feeling it. If I’m feeling a little too “happy” or a little too optimistic there’s always this suspicious feeling of “is this really my happiness or is this just a hypomanic state. Am I going to come crashing down and look even more stupid for thinking I was okay now?” And when I’m feeling depressed or, what used to be a big one, feeling the feeling of missing someone there follows the thought of “you shouldn’t be feeling this way anymore” and it only compounds that level of shame that I was already feeling beforehand. That might not go away as soon as I’d like it to, but it helps that I’m becoming more aware of it and able to catch it (sometimes) as it’s happening. I actually am happy right now, and I am becoming less afraid to say that and trying to make myself feel less like that’s undeserved and unjustified bragging but instead just a statement of relief because I have, especially in the past year, been extremely unhappy. There were many days where I wanted to hide away and cry because I felt so alone, even when often that wasn’t actually the case. Despite how it might feel during those moments, I am not alone and I have a group of friends and loved ones whom I all love very dearly. It still sure as hell feels like I’m alone a lot of the time regardless, but of course I’m going to feel that way when my immediate response to that “lonely” depression is to cut myself off from everyone. A recurring self-mantra I’ve begun asking myself lately is “What purpose does this serve?” and that question alone has done wonders in helping alleviate a lot of negative habits I had, or at the very least helped stopped that cycle of shame whenever I did falter and rely on an old defense mechanism like social media checking, isolation, etc. It’s a multi-step process when I feel sad, depressed, whatever–

First, I tell myself that one you are indeed feeling what you are feeling. It had kind of been my initial response when I felt something I felt that I should be over by now or just in general didn’t feel like I should be feeling that. When you reject or deny feeling things, to appease your own idea of how “better” or “mentally healthier” you want to be or worse that you should be, you really only deny yourself the ability to understand why that feeling is still there and denying yourself the ability to actually just feel the damn feeling. That’s why my first step now is always to go “yes you’re sad about this. It’s understandable to feel this way.” And sometimes my reasons for feeling sad might seem dumb or, like I previously stated, something I felt I should have been over by now. “Should” had become such an awful and cancerous word in my vocabulary. A huge weight is taken off our shoulder once you go, yeah you’re feeling shitty about this and that’s alright. Now what is it that you want to do about it? And previously without thinking, I would resort automatically to what used to work– even if a lot of these things did not work any more in the new situation that I happened to be in. For example, the one I’m the least proud of (but not anymore entirely ashamed of) was the checking of friends’ social media. And I do not want to go into explaining why I did this as the reason for it has changed throughout the years and I don’t feel like I need to justify it here, but I will say that I had come to learn that while it had become a seemingly “harmless” habit there no longer was a purpose to it. At least not one that benefited me, just one that kept me stuck in that place I was and perhaps maybe that’s what the purpose was but again it was not something that helped me in any way. I think with realizing that and also having such a busy past couple of weeks (a whole week actually with Lilli who in fact kind of helped keep me away from social media in general which helped a shit ton– even if I admittedly was annoyed at first. Now I realize why she was doing it and I’m incredibly thankful) When you go, “this is doing nothing for me” you tend to rely on that less almost naturally because you ultimately want to do something that actually does help.

Then there’s the isolating. What purpose did that serve? Well that one actually did serve a purpose and in some ways it has helped me, but it has a lot more negative effects than positive so when you do have something like this, which in some way has helped you or has protected you before you have to ask yourself. Okay, what else can I do to garner similar results that doesn’t have as many additional negative effects as that habit did. Isolating kept me away from stressful situations when I was going through a depressive phase and that anxiety began to spike, keeping me away from a lot of stimuli that would indeed increase those levels of anxiety and feelings of discomfort. However, it also kept me away from feelings of togetherness, the comfort that comes from talking about those anxieties and having someone understand, and it only validated that growing thought “You are alone and you will always be alone. And when you end up dying alone it will be because you deserved it.” that has tormented me for years. Having already a nice comfortable group of friends and loved ones I’m close with and I know care about me immensely, that thought should seem ridiculous but that is something once that depression takes over is truly hard to not believe. Hard not to let it take over any possible rational thought. It has helped to have people who prove to me over and over again that that just isn’t true, which is why to avoid doing what I used to do and trying to do something at least a little healthier when I feel overwhelmed I have now begun to, instead of fully isolating, to respond more intermittently (whenever I can muster up the energy to respond) and talk more with those I’m comfortable with. If I just don’t have it in me to talk or to hang out that day I’ll just out right say it. My interests, my moods, and my motivation wane heavily (sometimes even on a daily basis) so some might find that strange or hard to deal with, but those who matter. Those who I want to keep in my life, in my “circle,” won’t care and even if they don’t fully understand it they are at least okay with it.

Allowing myself to feel that sadness, that loneliness, whatever it is I’m feeling without having the need to justify it has also helped make things easier. You feel less shameful of yourself when you don’t feel like you have to justify and make yourself prepared for some sort of explanation. “This happened and I felt sad about it” is enough of a valid excuse. There does not need to be a “because” anywhere in that statement in order to feel okay feeling that emotion. After all this, the voice in my head has started to sound a lot less judgmental and callous. I’m not completely cured from that voice in my head which’ll tell me upsetting things that will discourage me from getting better, but using those two techniques of asking myself what each habit’s purpose serves for me and not double checking why I have an emotional response to a prompting event and allow myself to just naturally react to it has helped. I mentioned last post that I desperately needed an extra helping hand because I was in the past months slipping quite a bit, but I was relying on that to be the hand that tipped me over the other side. I do feel like I have more of a grip of things so in some sorts I did get over that hurdle but I’m not relying on the effects of medication to do that for me. I have started medication, and I do have a diagnosis now which is both a little validating and comforting to know that now I have a more specified and personal treatment. The emotion shifts are an immense burden on my life but what the biggest problem wasn’t that I felt intense emotions. It’s that I couldn’t accept the fact I did, and that there’s years of shame ingrained in me because of this. And that I have to work on that myself, with the help of DBT and being able to confide in loved ones. Mostly though, it will be from changing those old habits and those old judgements. They no longer are helpful and some just don’t apply to my current situation anymore.

So today I am feeling happy. It’s not a state of being so that happiness will waver because it’s an emotion and emotions will always come and go but it is super relieving to be able to say that without worry. Shit days are soon to come, but also plenty of good days too. There’s a middle ground that you have to find to understanding that life will have its ebbs and flows but that you still have the ability to get ahead of the game and carve out a path that will lead to more positive feelings compared to if you were to stick on the path you were already taking. Also on a sort of meta note it is nice to be able to write a post and talk about what I’m feeling without feeling like I need to also include an explanation or a backstory to every damn feeling. I felt this way, I learned this from feeling that way, and this is what I’m doing now so I can hopefully feel a different way that is all the knowledge I hope anyone who stumbles upon this to acquire. I hope if random but beloved reader relates to any of this, that what I’ve learned might help you also.

That’s all for today. I wrote a lot more than I thought I was but I was feeling pretty inspired today so fuck it. ‘Til I get the next surge of inspiration.

With Love,