Will I ever feel better?
When experiencing mental and emotional turmoil it can feel that nothing can ever change. That the overwhelming heaviness, the perpetual ruminations, the inner whirlpool of anxiety will never leave and this is just how life is now. Sometimes depending on previous life experiences we might not know what ‘feeling better’ even is and that can be terrifying.
Change does happen. Healing does take place, it might leave a battle scar but healing does occur. Sometimes changes happen so slowly at the time you don’t necessarily notice they are taken place and feel you are trapped in this quagmire forever. Or you struggle alone to force change and push yourself further than you are ready to go at that point and then feel worse. Emotional pain does not disappear all of a sudden. Healing takes place with small windows of feeling okay and the amount of windows where you feel okay gradually increases until eventually you experience more time feeling okay than feeling despair.
Firstly you do not have to struggle alone, there are groups, there is therapy. Look around at what is the best support for you.
Notice the windows. Be aware of how you are feeling right now in the moment. “On a scale of 1 to 10 I feel (the number) right now.” When you do that exercise, how you are feeling only applies to that moment. It does not mean you are going to feel the same later, tomorrow or next week. Check in with yourself regularly how you feel right now.
Express those feelings. Sometimes the pain or anxiety can just build and build until it feels as though the pressure is too much. Write it, draw it, scribble it, play it out in music, in any way that suits you get those feelings and thoughts recorded so you don’t have to keep thinking about them and some of that pressure gets released.
Be kind to yourself. It can be frustrating to find yourself suddenly unable to concentrate, remember things or be unable to do things you previously found easy. These are all potential effects of depression, anxiety, PTSD, grief, stress. If you metaphorically beat yourself up about what you cannot do at this moment it can make you feel worse. Imagine the obstacle is a brick wall, if you try to plough through it, you will hurt yourself and you will not conquer the obstacle. Maybe it is better instead to figure out a way of temporarily living with the brick wall and work out how to manage the things that are currently difficult.
Healing takes time. Allow yourself to go slow. Pick up a flower and examine the colours, the texture, the shape and if you feel nothing, numbness, indifference, that is okay. The next day, listen to a piece of music, the rhythm the high notes the low. The following day taste your favourite food noticing the flavour and texture. You might feel numbness, indifference, hurt for a long time. Just trust that every day you can take that one slow step that is you reaching out beyond the pain because one day a positive feeling will break through.
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About Jacqueline Karaca
Jacquie Karaca is a psychotherapist and author. She practices individual and relationship counselling in Alsager.