Why feeling bad is good

Feeling more normal once again. Just in time for a new group and therapy cycle of distress.

Why oh why am I doing this then? I’m sure this sounds insane to people not involved in this kind of therapy.

It’s processing. I do believe in it, and I believe it’s the only way to change things, and it involves a lot of pain. I’m remembering feelings and, fuzzily, events, from my past. Once I let them out in therapy, they seem to stay out and make themselves known.

Mostly until now my strategy was to push things down. It makes sense, and it’s what most people do anyway. When there’s a vague unhappiness, a pressure, and anxiety, anger that seems too strong – push it down. It seems to make us bad people – that’s what my parents taught me, and I didn’t deeply question it for a long time.

In my case, with parts, I’d simply suppress the parts. They then manifest as voices, saying the same things over and over. Weird, but what can you do. Don’t tell anyone, pretend it isn’t happening.

Right now I have a unique amount of time to myself where I do not have to ‘cope’ – I don’t have to push things away to keep everything going. This contract is undemanding, and I have a lot of time. Because you do have to push things down to get things done in the real world it seems. At least I do.

Now I’m letting parts come forward, so with that come a bunch of really dark emotions. I suppose parts hold those emotions from my past for me, as well as the memories of what actually happened. In the process of doing that, I land thunk, prone on my bed and unable to function for a few days.

I think it’s healing. I don’t think you can heal from abuse without huge amounts of pain and also sheer time spent doing not a whole lot but allowing the feelings to move through. It sucks, but it’s the truth as I know it. The more I have to cope, the less I am able to heal, because there isn’t room for stuff to come up.

I also tend to think that therapies that offer strategies for coping, changing your thinking, meds, little knick knacks for your mood, a little meditation, can simply keep you in one place, because they are offering band-aids when you need the wound opened up and purged so it can heal properly. Lots of therapies trying to cure you fast – they haven’t worked for me, and I have met an awful lot of people who simply stay stuck, going to appointments, trying this strategy and that, ‘thinking positive’. I don’t believe in that. 

For me, the dark feelings lift after several days. I feel relief like after a bad flu, that the world is still there, it is no longer menacing, and things are blessedly ordinary. I’m going to keep doing what I’m doing.

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16 comments
  1. I`m glad the feelings pass and you feel some relief. It sounds like you have found a healing path that is working for you and is very empowering. I hope group goes well tonight.

  2. Ellen said:

    Thanks Di. Hoping you too are on the upswing. Yikes, I'm off to group now!

  3. good luck at group tonight.for me, i had to do some of both kinds of therapy, plus meds.i just wasn't stable enough without learning the coping techniques and taking the meds, i kept either attempting suicide or being so paralyzed with suicidal thoughts that i couldn't function. i spent a year and a half learning how to cope with my overwhelming emotions… (doing cbt and dbt and meditation) and dipping into the hard stuff only every now and then. now that i can handle the intensity of my feelings, i can go deep in therapy, getting at the hard stuff and staying with it. i am glad you are able to really dig into this with ron, and glad you recognized that other therapies didn't go deep enough for you. just think their importance shouldn't be discounted.looking forward to hearing how group went.

  4. Ellen said:

    Good for you for telling me your experience Catherine. I totally do respect your path also. I guess I've met a lot of people in support groups, people whom I was trying to be friends with, who don't do what you're doing. They stick with the first type of therapy, it doesn't work, but they blame themselves, and don't understand voluntarily going into dark emotions, going deeper. For them sadness / depression / grief is simply a very bad thing to be attacked and stopped. I don't believe that and don't want to pretend I do anymore.You're not like that at all, obviously. Thanks!

  5. Ruth said:

    I hope group is helpful tonight. You are right from last comment I did go through deep depression. Counseling was hard but I already been through worse. I am with One Brave Duck. I went deep and I needed to learn the things I didn't learn as a teenager. Life skills that were useless in the crazy world I lived in. My counselor worded it best, being raised in insanity I didn't have time to learn how to live. My new counselor is good at teaching me effective coping skills along with continuing healing. I appreciated the combination as I became healthier. Middle of the deep healing the coping skills didn't mean much to me. Keeping you in my thoughts.

  6. E, thanks, I totally get where you are coming from. I also know so many people who are afraid to tackle the hard stuff in their therapy. Who drink/drug/self-harm/sleep around in an endless cycle, and wonder why their life is such a mess, without ever thinking maybe they need to tackle their childhood abuse. I think it takes a lot of courage to sit with those heavy emotions, like you do week after week. Like Ruth, I never learned how to feel or express my emotions as a child, so I had to develop that skill through therapy, and tbh, i'm still learning. part of what drives my compulsive behaviour, to this day, is an inability to sit with overwhelming emotions. i get triggered, get overwhelmed, tell myself i'm crazy, and reach for an unhealthy coping mechanism.thanks for listening, c.

  7. It's a process. Whenever I do something that will have the side-effect of letting stuff surface I try to make space for the fallout. Things work through and improve until there is no fallout.Sometimes I think what sometimes counts as therapy only works if you are a little sad that your puppy has a cold. It doesn't always scale to dealing with the heavier stuff in life.

  8. Laura said:

    I don't think I embrace my depression like this, don't see a purpose in it, per se, but I have seen that it passes if I'm not able to hurry it along. (I don't have the trauma history.) Recognizing and allowing whatever you feel makes so much sense, and learning not to be afraid of the waves. My depression is based in self-loathing, so if Ron didn't answer my email (for example), I'd be blaming myself, kicking myself, for that. J guess my goal would be to de-identify with that self blaming voice – I see you there, you are my FEAR… you are not the truth.it's good to hear you sounding feisty and strong.

  9. Laura said:

    Do you sense a distinction between depression and memories?

  10. Ellen said:

    @ Ruth – That makes a lot of sense Ruth. Skills can surely help also. Thanks for sharing your story@ OBD – Sitting with those emotions is the most difficult thing…Glad you shared your experience with me.@ Mike – I find letting things surface takes a huge amount of space. The sick puppy comment did make me smile. Thanks Mike@ Laura – I think there is a difference, and my depression is memories either surfacing or trying to surface, a lot of the time. Other stresses make me more anxious than depressed. From what I've read, it's quite a different beast than clinical depression which simply gets worse and worse….This is more episodic. Maybe more like intense grief perhaps. Because I have dissociated parts getting them back involves a lot of pain. I wondered also what was wrong with my email that it didn't get a response, as well as hurt feelings that he didn't reply. De-identifying with self-blame seems like a good plan. Thanks for the comments

  11. Wondering how group and therapy went this week. Are you having an easier time this weekend.thinking of you,di

  12. Laura said:

    I think of depression as hopelessness, along with self-loathing, and I would think that someone who'd suffered abuse as a child, would have a lot of self-loathing, a feeling/memory of helplessness and hopelessness, and a hopeless belief that one was irrevocably damaged or soiled. As a reader of your journal, your depression seems like a "black box"… it's not something that seeks expression, in your writing. It's hard to know what's happening, what the thoughts or feelings are…It's good to know that you feel better, if you allow it, that's a great indicator to follow.

  13. Ellen said:

    @ attached – Group and therapy were OK. I am late posting about them. I am doing well this weekend, especially today di. Hope you are well. thanks!@ Laura – I kind of think 'depression' is a catch-all term…there are different kinds for sure. Ron says depression is when different forces in a person are colliding. For me, at least in this last experience, it was a cut-off part of me re-emerging. I agree with the child abuse consequences you are describing. I don't know enough about you Laura to be able to guess what your experience of depression is like. Mine is informed by my particular experience. Trying to suppress it, avoid it or kill it off makes it worse for me. Even though a lot of mental health care seems aimed at destroying the dark emotions, for me that does not work and is the wrong path. It's true I haven't written much from within depression…maybe because it's too much effort at the time. Thanks for the comment

  14. Amanda said:

    My process is similar to yours – to sit with the feelings and emotions until they lift. Like you said, it is not easy. It is (sometimes) painful in a way that leaves me with no words.I'm glad that you're continuing on, that you're moving ahead and are headed in the direction of healing.

  15. Ellen said:

    Hi Amanda – I think it's a good method. Good to know you feel similar. I know that 'beyond words' feeling too. Thanks!

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