When I’m going through a difficult time mentally, I deal with many repetitive thoughts. Regardless of what those thoughts are, my main challenge during this time is to disrupt anything repetitive and try to create original, unique thoughts that are different from each other. One of these repetitive thoughts that occurs is that I say that I “don’t feel like myself.” Though I’ve struggled with this in the past, I’m trying to change what that phrase means to be – and how that can improve my mental health.
Now, I promise I won’t start making posts every time I learn something new about myself in therapy, but this time, it will help explain where I’m at. I’d been talking about how I never really feel like myself when my therapist asked a simple question: if you never ‘feel’ like yourself, do you think that might actually be who you are? And even though I thought it at first, this idea isn’t as galaxy-brained as you might thing.
After a little more reflection, I came to a conclusion. When I say I don’t feel like myself, I usually mean that I don’t like the way I feel. Living with depression and anxiety means that most of the time, something feels off. I know I’m not alone that when I say that I don’t enjoy feeling off – no one does – but I don’t think I always accept the fact that for me, feeling off is considered normal. That feeling is part of me, whether I like it or not. Most of the time I manage that feeling well, but the times I can’t are when I slip into thinking that I don’t feel like myself.
When I hear people tell me that they don’t feel like themselves, I tend to forget about a major caveat: most of the time, people like how they usually feel. When you feel like yourself, you’re usually in a good mood or have a smile plastered on your face. It might always be actively feeling good, but there is typically an absence of bad feelings. That’s one of the reasons that it’s so problematic when they don’t feel like themselves. A person always wants to get back to that good feeling, which is usually their default mood. Since my default is not to feel good in the same way others might, am I really trying to feel like myself again? Or am I trying to feel even better?
I really hope this post wasn’t too confusing for folks – I’ve batted around this post for quite some time, and I finally wanted to take a shot to see how I could explain it. The feeling I have of not feeling like myself is who I am. It’s part of me, my temperament and my personality. Rather that try to sort out my feelings, my thoughts and my attitude, I want to begin focusing on who I am and what makes me, me. And I think that trying to break down topics like this one go a long way toward becoming mentally healthier.