We are told to “control” how emotions aren’t we? That’s all we seem to hear. Control them or they will control you! Nothing is further than the truth.
When we have an anxiety disorder and/or depression we are tuned into all our feeling state… too much so! We note that we are having a ‘good’ day or a ‘bad’ day. We constantly watch and monitor our emotions, out of fear and because we feel that if we don’t, we will lose ‘control’ of them. I was a master at emotion-watching once upon a time!
I recall chatting to my therapist, Bronwyn, when I was all-consumed in anxiety. I said to her, “I have never liked crying. I’m afraid of it actually, because it makes me feel low and depressed. Can I just cry when I recover?” I recall her kindly chuckling and saying “well, it doesn’t quite work like that.”
What I didn’t see at the time, and what I clearly see now, is that accepting all your emotions and your feeling state IS the recovery. Not being able to experience all your emotions out of fear IS the disorder.
The more you try and push your uncomfortable emotions away, the stronger they become and the more you think something is terribly wrong with you. And the more you avoid triggers (conversations, places, people) is giving those feelings the power and a REASON to stay with you.
It is very important to know that sadness is not necessarily depression, just like worry is not necessarily an anxiety disorder. We are meant to be sad when deemed appropriate, it is a normal feeling state. Worry or fear when appropriate, is a normal feeling state.
I hear many people say that they are very sad about something in their life, that really warrants sadness, and they feel they are going through “depression.” It is not always depression, it just may be sadness about what is happening. If they just allow the sadness to be there, they would find that it will leave once it has served its purpose with them. It only lingers and can be felt as depression when one feels so down and hopeless because they are feeling sad (rather than at the event that caused the sadness).
Same with anxiety. There is normal anxiety… flying on planes or concern about life changes, amongst many other things are normal anxieties. Being frightened of the anxiety only serves to compound the anxiety, thus starting the vicious cycle of fear (disorder). So it is the fear of anxiety that causes an issue, rather than the anxiety of the event/or what is going on.
Accepting your emotions is a huge step to freedom. This is telling the emotions that YOU have the power. Not control. But POWER. Power to let them be there for as long as they need to be, as uncomfortable as it will feel. Only then will they get bored and leave… and they will leave.