Emotions & feelings: unclearly understanding the process from beginning to end… with my foggy little brain!
“If at first you don’t succeed, try, try and try again.”
If I’d have given up on my first attempt at anything I do, I’d still be very stuck in that dismal place I was in.
Don’t get me wrong; the world isn’t always bright and beautiful. And I still visit that dismal place every now and then. And it is still as dark and lonely there as it has always been. But you literally have to just keep on trying.
People used to tell me to take things like, one step at a time. “Take each day as it comes” was the most common phrase I’d hear. And sometimes I understood that and could ‘get’ what they were saying. Other times, I’d be thinking “I don’t wanna be here another day feeling like this”. I’d be cursing people, obviously in my mind; whilst sitting and nodding blankly.
‘If you could be me for a day you wouldn’t be fucking sitting there telling me to “just” get through this day.’
It would feel like nobody was listening, or rather, hearing me. People would tell me they understood, that it makes sense that I would feel awful about things, that taking things a day at a time would help. If I could go back to those times; when I was sitting and quietly arguing with people who thought their advice was universal and worked for everyone (breathe..), I would give myself this advice:
Take it however slowly you need to. Maybe you will struggle with the next 24 hours because that’s too much. Maybe try an hour at a time. Sometimes even a minute. Find a way of getting through 1 minute, and you’ve achieved your first step on your journey to something better.
Accept that other people will say/do what they believe may be helpful to you. Most of those people genuinely want to help and support you. Believe it or not, they’re not setting out to piss you off or upset you.
If people aren’t helping, then ask yourself what are you expecting from them? Are those expectations realistic? Are they fair?
So often it was my expectations of others that was the problem with me. Looking back, I expected people to ‘know’ exactly how I felt; thinking that somehow it would take it all away. But I struggled too, to express how I felt, mostly because I didn’t understand my feelings and emotions. Surprised really that it was 9 yrs in mental health services before anybody thought “oh wait a minute, she can’t say how she feels because she doesn’t understand; so let’s teach her”.
With emotions, you think about those first. Feelings just happen, spontaneously. This explained why I would one minute feel absolutely fine, the next I felt so bad I wished I was dead. Bear with me on this… The emotions happen in your mind initially; something happens, you interpret it and the emotion kicks in.
The emotion is your mind’s way of kick-starting your body into action.
The feelings then happen. So as an example… you hear a noise downstairs and immediately think there is somebody in the house (my anxious little mind lol). The emotion that kick-starts your physical body would be fear. And literally within seconds of hearing that noise, you are trembling/shaking, your palms are sweaty, your heartbeat is faster and more prominent. These are all the body’s way of getting ready to either fight the threat or flee/run from it or freeze (play dead really).
That’s obviously a basic scenario that lots of us can relate to. So, in those first few seconds you think. And we all think differently. You might hear a bang and think “oh my god it’s a burglar” whilst I may hear the same noise and think “cat’s are playing again”. You would go on to feel frightened, anxious etc. Your body would react to that by shaking and all those other things we feel. My body will still be relaxing because my thought process meant a different outcome. See how quickly those thoughts take place though? Didn’t even realise that myself until now.
Anyhow it goes; trigger – thoughts – emotions – feelings. These vary so much from person to person depending a lot on their past experiences. Someone may have been in a car accident and associate loud noises with that. They may then hear any loud noise and ‘think’ there is danger, then feel frightened and anxious. See where I’m going?
My point was … ermmm… genuinely forgot where I was going with that so think I’m going to leave it there and write again soon.
In Kerri's words, "I am 30 years old and have only recently learned how to enjoy life. In 2005 I started uni to do a degree in children’s nursing. A combination of low self-esteem, missing family and struggling emotionally with the course led to self-harm and an eventual suicide attempt. Between 2006-2015 I had so many psychiatric hospital admissions, various suicide attempts and ongoing self-harm. It was ‘Structured Clinical Management’ that made a difference and I was discharged from services after almost 10 years, in 2016. I am now engaged and want to help others have the realisations I have had that led to a happier me."