I remember when I was a kid I’d hear the term ‘bottle it up’ a lot when it came to dealing with life’s problems. It’s been some time since I’ve heard it (thanks to friends and family who don’t use this approach too often), but it’s stuck with me over the years. One of the most important things I’ve learned on my mental health journey is that it’s extremely important that I let out my emotions as often as I can. Even more than that, it’s important to that when I let those emotions out, it’s in a healthy way that can help me build long-term wellness. Here’s how that came to be.
When I was first experiencing depression and anxiety, I had a difficult time regulating my emotions. I had my ups and downs (common for people with depression and anxiety), but what made it more difficult was that I didn’t have any healthy ways to handle or regulate those emotions. If I was numb, I was numb to everything. If I was going through a crying spell, I’d be teary-eyed throughout the day, not wanting my depression to get in the way of what I wanted to do.
I felt like I couldn’t win. Either I held my emotions in tightly until I burst, or I felt every single little thing and couldn’t function the way I normally would. Even though I knew that I was going through something a lot of people experience, at some point I realized that it isn’t sustainable.
If I wanted to manage my depression and anxiety so that I could live my life, I needed to figure out how to also manage my emotions. It was quite a shock for me to learn that the biggest part of managing my emotions is making sure they get out – even if it isn’t pretty sometimes.
People who live with mental illness carry a lot of emotional luggage throughout the day. As I’ve written before, mental health can be exhausting – and that’s okay. At some point, I break down. I can’t continue without releasing the sadness, the pain or however else my mental illness is manifesting during that time.
Now that I know this, I make sure I’m in a safe space to release those emotions and let out what I need to let out. Thoughts can get dark when you live with mental illness, and I want to make sure that whatever I’m thinking and feeling, that I do it in the healthiest way possible (note the emphasis not on doing the best, but on doing the best I can possibly do). While that sometimes means that someone is with me, it also means that if I want to be alone, that someone knows that.
Sometimes I think about if there’s a better way to manage mental illness, but I also know that for me, it’s important to let out those emotions. It’s the healthiest and most sustainable way for me to live with depression and anxiety, and that will always be the most important factor when it comes to my mental health.
Is letting out your emotions important to your mental wellness? What are other healthy ways that you manage living with mental illness? Let me know in the comments!