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Inspiring Success on the Road to Recovery

Friday, January 3, 2014

Internal Conflict: Fight it or Feel it?

Feeling different, depressed, lost or alone can come as the result of a stressful life event,  series of events or, seemingly, from nowhere.

If you are like most people, a large part of your pain is the feeling you’re alone and afraid and if you let anyone know how bad you feel and why you feel that way (if you have a clue yourself), you’ll be instantly branded as “crazy.”

So we hide feelings — pretending to be happy, life is good — even though our hearts may be breaking and our spirit is crushed by the darkness within.

When we deny our feelings or cover them up many of us can become angry or exhibit impulsive behavior. Without realizing what it, we lash out at parents, family, friends or teachers all in an attempt to discharge the hurt lodged inside. In an indirect way, emotional outbursts let out pain, in an unhealthy way.

So why not deaden the feelings with alcohol, drugs, sex, gambling or eating disorders, not always realizing what you’re doing and why.

The big problem with these ways of dealing with painful feelings is they will only add to loneliness and depression.

By hiding feelings, people who might help don’t know they are needed  and the opportunity to reach out for loving support is lost.

By covering up painful feelings with angry, impulsive behavior, will not warrant the understanding you need so much.

Running away — either from home or from feelings or situations that need to be resolved simply prolongs the pain.

Finding a Solution

What can you do when you are feeling so low and hopeless it’s almost too much? How can you keep from making things worse for yourself instead of better?
Knowing what you are feeling is an important first step.
It isn’t always easy to know exactly what you are feeling when you are feeling bad. All of us have ways of dealing with pain that keep us, at least for a time, from feeling overwhelmed by problems. Alcohol, drugs, sex, gambling or food may be temporary ways of handling painful feelings for some. Others try to ignore feelings of pain and discomfort by keeping too busy to reflect on what they are really feeling. Still others look to other people or things to distract them: maybe shopping compulsively or partying nonstop, hanging out with friends all the time to avoid those uncomfortable moments alone. Think about how you cope when you are feeling bad. If you have been reaching for temporary solutions that aren’t helping, you are far from alone!
Depression can happen in a variety of ways and for many different reasons. At times, what some people call “depression” is not depression at all. Depression is often used as a sort of catchall phrase to describe a variety of symptoms. It is often the result of a complex mix of social, psychological or physical factors that can trigger sadness, hopelessness and feelings of inferiority, powerlessness and helplessness. While some people experience depression after a major loss or setback — when it becomes grief that just won’t quit— others experience these feelings for reasons that are not clear cut. For some, depression can be a lifelong illness that comes and goes in a recurring cycle.
You may experience a depressed mood suddenly in response to a loss situation. It may be relatively brief — a few days or a few weeks — or it may occur over an extended period of time. But it is usually linked directly to a specific situation and is quite identifiable as sadness or unhappiness.
Maybe you have been thinking that you need to talk with someone about feelings that are interfering with your life: a depressed or irritable mood most of the day, nearly every day; loss of interest or pleasure in activities you have always enjoyed before; the inability to concentrate; a diminished or increased appetite; withdrawal from friends or alienation of them with your outbursts of anger or irritability; having trouble sleeping or the feeling like sleeping all the time; restlessness or being slowed down; persistent fatigue; feelings of worthlessness or excessive or inappropriate guilt; recurrent thoughts of death (not just fear of dying), thoughts of suicide, with or without a specific plan and/or suicide attempts.
All of these feelings— some which are signs of major depression are the very reasons to see a mental health professional immediately.
Needing help doesn’t mean you’re weak. Sometimes the negative thinking in depression can make you feel like you’re a lost cause, but depression can be treated.