Sitting With Feelings That Won’t Go Away

After writing earlier this week about how my mental health catches me off guard, I wanted to build on that message and have some tips and techniques for people to use when the same thing happens to them. But before I could dive into that, I had a few thoughts that were nagging at me. I understood how these things catch me off guard, but I couldn’t understand why. Doesn’t everyone have thoughts that distract them? I’d guess that some of the thoughts and feelings I struggle with are similar to ones that many people have. So why do they have such a big impact on me? Before I can tackle the how, I needed to tackle the why – which is what I’m writing about today.

Dealing with depression and anxiety often involves dealing with intrusive thoughts on a regular basis. I’ll be going about my day, maybe getting lost in a task at work or one of my hobbies, and then a thought will pop into my head. Most of my energy is spent dealing with the thought itself; I do some thinking about whether or not the thought is true or accurate. Sometimes it’s decoding a thought to realize it’s not even rational, or the fear I have is logically impossible.

But what often sticks with me isn’t always the contents of the thought I have. What tends to stick around are the feelings that these thoughts have instilled in me. I don’t always remember the thought process that made me feel sad; all I know is that in that moment, I’m sad. The same goes for times when I’m feeling anxious, restless or depressed. The feeling lingers well beyond these thoughts. If I’m not vigilant, those feelings can fester and grow much stronger simply by refusing to go away.

I think a big part of why these feelings linger, and why I feel so caught off guard sometimes, is that I don’t always accept what’s happening. Even after a decade of dealing with anxiety and depression, my brain’s instinct is still to reject any unpleasant or unwelcome thought that pops into my brain. My first instinct is to try to get rid of the thought as quickly as possible, and to get rid of it on my own terms. It’s a fight-or-flight response that does the opposite of its intended effect. Rather than making the thoughts/feelings disappear, the instinct of rejection allows them to stick around longer than they would have, creating a cycle that feels impossible to manage.

Writing this also got me thinking about the role fear plays into our mental health. Fear of the unknown (which I’ve written about before), but also fear what we’ve already been through. Sometimes, my intrusive thoughts can remind me of an unpleasant or unsuccessful experience with my mental health and it can bring me back to that time. I feel stuck or lost in that moment, and I’m terrified of being back there again. Understanding why things impact us is just as valuable as how they impact us and the more we reflect on that, the more we learn – about our mental wellness and about ourselves.

The Importance of Feeling – From the Experts

I have said it many times on My Brain’s Not Broken – I am not a mental health professional. I have life experience and have discussed the topic with many professionals over the years, but this isn’t my line of work. However, I love to do research and find out what the experts are saying. After sharing my own perspective on the importance of feeling, I decided to poke around the Internet and see what mental health professionals are saying about the importance of feelings and emotions. Here’s a little bit of what I found!

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The Value of Feeling

Several times a day, I’m reminded of how important it is to feel. I don’t mean to be happy or sad, nervous or stressed out. But I mean to feel, really feel, an emotion coming over me or an action that I’m taking. This might sound a little out there, or even simplistic, so I hope you can stick with me for this post. But today, I want to share how valuable it is to actually, really, truly feel your feelings.

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Sometimes, You Just Need to Cry

Here on My Brain’s Not Broken I have a tendency to write blog posts that serve as reminders. Sometimes they’re reminders that would be beneficial for whoever’s reading the post. Other times, the reminders are things I’ve forgotten long ago, and what I need to hear in the moment. Either way, reminder posts serve a purpose; they can help ground us and help us remember where we are on our journey. So today, I come to you with a specific reminder. Sometimes, you need to feel how you feel – and getting that out is the best thing you can do for yourself.

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How to Deal With Feeling Stagnant

Earlier this week, I wrote about feeling stagnant. Even though it’s pretty common and everyone experiences it at various points, I always find this feeling challenging to deal with. There’s a shock I experience that becomes more familiar every time it happens; it’s as though I’m surprised to be in this position again. Regardless of the circumstances of why I feel this way, there are many ways to deal with these feelings that could be helpful instead of harmful. Here are a few reminders for when you’re feeling stagnant, and what you can do about it!

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What Do I Do With My Emotions?

Part of living with depression and anxiety means that sometimes, my emotions are…heightened. I don’t always know the reasoning behind it, but there are a lot of emotions I feel more intensely than I’d like to feel. I know a part of this is my empathetic nature, part of it is life and part of it is just in my personality, but it can be tricky. I don’t always know what to do with my emotions – and in some situations, this can get in the way of being mentally healthy.

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