Not that F word!
There were a lot of F words that could fit my theme. I have talked about friendship and being “fine” recently, so I was thinking of others; fear, flat, fatigue, frustrated, foolish, frantic, furious. All of these are feelings. So there we go, F is for the other dreaded F word, feelings. Depression encompasses a lot of different feelings…or none at all. It’s a bit of a paradox in that sense.
Feelings are mediated by the limbic system in your brain and the autonomic nervous system in your body. Feelings are systemic. They are a whole brain-body reaction. When you panic for example, you are having thoughts of dread and doom, but you body is involuntarily reacting too; a higher heart rate, quickened breathing, sweating, shaking, etc. Every reaction requires a stimulus. Often the stimulus is self-talk or an external event, but it can be unconscious too. Feelings are also influenced by stress. When in a state of stress, your body is already primed for an emotional reaction. That’s why it takes so little to set you off when you are under pressure.
Feelings are subject to suppression. You can actively hide them or hold them in when you feel they are inappropriate for your current environment. Other times they may be unpleasant and its easier to distract your mind and avoid them than deal with them. The psychologist says that because I don’t express my feelings, I end up tired and depressed. Psych also says that by blocking my feelings I give myself anxiety. So it’s my fault I’m anxious and depressed? Thanks a lot. That makes me feel a lot better. I believe the psychologist is partially right, so how do I solve this problem? Identify and express. Easier said than done.
Often I feel overwhelmed by the intensity of my feelings or lack of. I feel buried with no way out. I don’t like to talk about my feelings. Not only is it uncomfortable, but I don’t know how to express what I’m feeling in words. I think I’ve been able to identify the basic feelings I have trouble expressing; anger and sadness. These are very basic emotions, there are probably a whole bunch of more complex emotions mixed in there, but we’d be here forever if I talked about those. So anger and sadness it is!
I have a lot of anger towards myself. I have discovered that is because I am a perfectionist. I am working on that. I hold in my anger towards other people too. I think it’s because I am worried about hurting them (emotionally) or what they will think of me. This is silly because when people are angry with me, they tell me and I’m not hurt and I don’t think any less of them. I have to learn to be more assertive.
I’m not really sure where the sadness comes from. Maybe it’s linked to the anger somehow. More likely I’m just chemically imbalanced. I do feel less of the sadness when I am medicated.
So I have identified my feelings. According to psych, that is half the battle. So now for expression. There are three ways I can think of to express feelings. 1) Talk to someone, 2) write them down, 3) physically discharge them.
For anger, I’m choosing to physically discharge it through exercise. I have done karate in the past and found that sparring helped. Since I can’t go beating up people on the street, I’m going to start exercising more. I plan to get back into doing cardio and maybe some kickboxing on my own.
Sadness is a bit harder to deal with. Since I am awful and using my words, 1) and 2) don’t really work for me. So how do you physically discharge sadness? Crying comes to mind. Sometimes I can cry, sometimes I just can’t. As you can see, I’m still trying to figure this one out. What do you do to manage your feelings?