Sometimes I fall into the bad habit of running on empty until I sputter and break down on the side of the road. I cried recently while recounting some of my story of anxiety/depression from the past year. I wanted to let her (my sister) to know that she wasn’t alone in her feelings and that she needed to reach out during her hard times.
When I hear others’ problems I feel the oldest child weight of responsibility to manage, repair, and mend. And then my immediate reaction to that is to turn an “off” switch in my mind. (i.e. I pull out my phone to numb after a difficult experience and avoid an uncomfortable feeling).
I need to be connected to the fact that I feel heavy sometimes. I’m trying to change the bad habits of pretending, ignoring, and numbing. In the moments where I feel most week and weepy, I have pushed myself to reach out to friends and family who love me and know me. And I’ve pushed myself to spend time reflecting (whether that means to pause and be quiet or to spend time journaling). It has been such a comfort to find the acceptance, encouragement, and prayer from my loved ones. I have experienced such freedom in being truly known and seen. I feel a sense of wholeness and authenticity when I connect with my emotions. Because to label and process my feelings is not to wallow and identify with them. My emotions should inform me, they do not have to dictate my life. Sometimes I act like there are only two alternatives: to be completely overtaken by any negative emotion, or to completely space out and avoid and uncomfortable feeling.
My emotions should inform me, they do not have to dictate my life.
Sometimes I feel tempted to despair. I am a witness to pain at work, in my family, and in my friendships. And it feels like I’m swimming in the disappointment, hopelessness, fear, anger, and feelings of being trapped. This pushes me to numb. And I’m challenging myself to move beyond the stark choices of wallowing or escaping.
If I am upset about others’ problems, is it so bad to be burdened for others? (Lord help me to bring these requests before you and become a committed intercessor)
Am I so selfish that I can’t bear to be bothered by other people? (This past year of mental health struggles has chiefly taught me about your faithfulness, God)
Has numbing really been working for me? (Father, you gave me emotions for a reason, and I want to help myself feel and turn to you)
2 Corinthians 4:8 says, “We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair.”
I will cling to that.