What feelings are these…?

When you’re living with depression and anxiety it can be difficult to understand your own feelings.

Depression and anxiety have a tendency to make even the smallest things seem like a big problem. So it’s no surprise that the people around us may, from time to time, get a little confused. Between making mountains out of molehills to our apparent ability to present as quite unaffected, there seems to be an “understanding gap” in the way we perceive ourselves and how others perceive us.

I have to say that I am currently in a really good space. However, I’m now struggling with what are real and appropriate feelings and the feelings manufactured by my out-of-control Amygdala.

For those who don’t struggle with unhealthy depression and anxiety life is a continuous ebb and flow of manageable ups and downs. Apparently, it’s perfectly normal to feel feelings appropriate to our circumstances! The trouble for me is, that while I’m in this positive space, I have an expectation that I’m impervious to feelings and that I either won’t or shouldn’t have a reaction to events that unfold around me.

It’s true to say at the moment that Mr Wonderful is bearing the brunt of what I perceive to be a perfectly natural reaction to something he’s done (or didn’t do). And, in my own inimitable style I’ve sanctioned him with a healthy dose of disinterest and lack of verbal communication, thereby leaving him free to ponder what it is that he might have done (or not done) to arouse my ire. Perhaps to even give him time to formulate the appropriate apology for his offence.

However, my problem is: Is my discomfort to what he’s done a part of the mountain, the mole hill or my inability to “control” my emotions? Am I having a “normal” reaction to his infraction or am I operating out of years of misguided thoughts and feelings?

Interestingly enough, this situation came to life about 15 years ago when I inadvertently drove my car backwards off a small cliff. Well actually, it could be said that the car was driving me as we skidded off the bitumen and down an embankment of about 6 metres. I’d completely lost control of the vehicle in the pouring rain at a speed that was clearly inappropriate for the conditions (evidenced by my loss of control).

Since then, I’ve become a bit of a nervous Nellie when driving in the rain or on unknown roads or around the bendy bits. This nervousness extends to being a passenger in a vehicle driven by someone else. So after a recent discussion about this fear with Mr Wonderful and others, I expected that Wonderful might modify his preferred driving style whilst I was in the vehicle so that the degree of fear I experience might be mitigated.

Sadly this wasn’t to be the case and on a recent outing I was pushed beyond my ability to cope whilst enduring a terror filled, middle of the night, country drive. And, in spite of my gentle hints, Mr Wonderful either didn’t modify his driving or didn’t modify it enough to stop the fear manifesting inside me.   So I rode in fearful silence wishing I could ask him to stop so I could walk home but not wanting to make him mad! (Also not really wanting to walk the 70kms home in the dark!)

What I don’t know; is whether I had an appropriate response to Mr Wonderful’s driving or am I simply being selfish to expect my nervousness to be catered to? After years of defining a way of doing life while dealing with symptoms how do I move forward amid the recovered confidence and the ongoing fear of another fall?

I don’t even know why I’m mad. In the past I’ve been able to rely on “I’m upset because my illness makes me upset” but now it’s like having to be upset because of a real and tangible cause. Not being able to deflect the cause of my feelings to my illness means I’m left with the all too confronting challenge of taking responsibility for feeling something and frankly, I don’t know how!

Somehow, I get the feeling that even when we’re at our best, our illness still defines us.

And from Che Guevara:  Silence is argument carried out by other means.

If you need to talk to someone NOW call Lifeline on 13 11 14.

Deb Shugg is an awarded businesswoman, wife & mother, author and a sufferer of depression and anxiety. To contact Deb click here.

Read more of Deb’s BLOGs about living with depression and anxiety click here.

If you need help to deal with your symptoms see your doctor.

(Abuse of another person is NEVER okay. If you are being abused or, if you are an abuser please seek help.)

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