As a child, I was terrified of my emotions.
When I was nine I started having anxiety and panic attacks. They were random panic feelings that seemed to come out of nowhere. I didn’t know there was a name for these events. All I knew was that suddenly I was terrified. I felt like I was going to die.
I couldn’t explain to my parents what I was feeling because I didn’t understand it myself. They didn’t know anything about it either. Thirty years ago, mental health was not as talked about as it is today.
What compounded my confusion was the fact that everyone around me was also afraid of their emotions. They never said so, but just being around them you could tell. Emotions were something to be feared and resisted. It was weak to feel your feelings. Consequently, as a child, I was left do deal with these terrifying emotions on my own.
My experience with emotions is not uncommon. We as a society are also afraid to feel. We like to feel happy and excited but we shun the darker, more fearful parts of ourselves. We are quick to take a pill when we feel sad or anxious.
The use of antidepressants is growing exponentially. We are so afraid of our emotions that we inadvertently numb ourselves to all of them, even the good ones. We label sadness, anxiety, and depression as abnormal and treat them as a disease. It seems like the definition of normal is feeling happy all the time.
I am by no means excluded from this phenomenon. I’ve been on antidepressants twice in my life, for three years each time. I labeled my own more difficult, uncomfortable emotions as wrong, abnormal, and quickly worked to eliminate them.
The first time I medicated myself, I was twenty two years old. I was again experiencing anxiety. I immediately decided there was something wrong with me.
I thought that feeling scared couldn’t be normal so I researched anxiety online and went to the doctor. He diagnosed me with anxiety and depression and prescribed an SSRI.
I took it and felt better. I felt a lot less anxious but it felt artificial, like a drug-induced constant high. I didn’t feel like myself, but they helped me to function in my life so I continued to take them.
I stayed on them until I was so content and comfortable in my daily life that I thought I didn’t need them anymore. Something inside me felt like it was important to stop the drugs. I needed to see if I could be ok without them.
I was, for a short time.
The second time I was on antidepressants was six months after I had stopped the first ones. I was initially fine, but then everything fell apart.
All the emotions the antidepressants had been supressing came up, and with it, a physical illness. I was now facing many of the emotions and parts of myself that I had ignored, all the parts that I had previously been afraid to feel.
I was so overwhelmed by the enormity of my emotions and the physical illness that I felt the only way to survive was to go back on the antidepressants.
I stayed on them for three more years. I don’t judge myself for this. It was appropriate for me at the time and what I needed to do to get through that really difficult period in my life.
After things calmed down a bit, I knew I needed to get off of them. That little voice inside me once again urged me to stop the drugs. I knew I couldn’t push away all these emotions forever. I needed to face them.
When I stopped taking the pills for the second time, I faced the darkest, most fearful, hopeless, angry parts of myself. At least by this point I had realized that I was going through a spiritual transformation so it made it somewhat easier, but by no means easy.
I knew these were parts of myself and emotions that I had pushed away for a long time, the ones I had deemed wrong and hadn’t let myself feel. They were all coming back now to be felt and accepted.
That was all they wanted and that was all they needed. They didn’t want to be changed, fixed or healed. They just wanted to be accepted and felt.
So that’s what I did. It was incredibly challenging. I had so much resistance to feeling these emotions. I was so afraid of them.
Over time, I learned that the more I accepted the emotions, felt them and let them be there, the quicker they would pass through. I saw that if I resisted them and tried to push them away, they would stick around a lot longer. It was becoming too much of an effort to continue resisting.
I was tired of fighting myself.
Many times I didn’t know if I would survive these emotions. The depth of the pain I felt was bone shattering.
Somehow, I always did. There was always a part of me that was untouched by these emotions, simply observing what was happening.
It was my soul, the conscious impartial observer. No matter how much I felt like my human self was being torn apart, that part of me could never be broken or shattered.
I am still healing parts of myself by accepting them and feeling them but now I have a much larger perspective.
That impartial observer is a reality in my life, not just a tiny part of me.
Now when a fearful, sad, or angry part of myself comes up, I have very little resistance to it and it passes through in a matter of hours, versus months when I was actively trying to resist my emotions.
I now know that I am not those parts. I am my soul, my consciousness and those emotions are just parts of me that are coming into my awareness for healing.
I don’t fear them anymore, and so they feel welcome to come back to me, to come back home.