Ooph, what a way to start a week. But, let’s talk about it anyway. First and foremost, how was everyone’s weekend? We had a fun one over here! My sister was in town from NYC and Saturday was spent with her and my family running all over town. We did the farmers market, playground, main street shops, a walk, lake time, and dinner at a local brewery. If all that didn’t wear James out it certainly had me wiped! I have been forgetting that I write a blog lately, which is why I have almost zero pictures to show for the weekend…no good. So let’s start the week off by talking about our feelings instead!
In therapy I have basically one task. Identify my feelings in every situation and interaction in life. It sounds easy, but is actually very hard to do. For me at least. I am given an extensive list of feelings both “good and bad” although my therapist does not like to group feelings into categories. From that list, she has me slow down, stop, and identify. I will easily get carried away with venting to her, to the point where I forget to breathe sometimes. She is different from any other therapist I have been to, because she doesn’t want to hear me ramble on about all of the things on my mind, she wants me to go a step further. She stops me mid-conversation and I have to look over this list of feelings to try and figure out how I was feeling in the situation or conversation that I just told her about.
It usually feels annoying to have to do this. Like she’s cutting me off from our conversation which is really just me word vomiting all over her. I would rather just spend the hour venting, so that I can get everything out before emotions start building up in me again. I don’t get to talk about a lot of things in therapy because she’s got me so stumped on my feelings all the time. I have a hard time identifying my feelings, but I am beginning to understand why it’s important.
I’ve learned through therapy process that our amygdala in our brain which controls the fight or flight response, is overactive in certain people’s brains. I am one of those people. Because I can’t put a name to how I am feeling, my body assumes it is in danger and therefore activates a fight or flight response. Warning signals are then sent throughout my body alerting signs of danger with an unidentifiable threat, I immediately feel overwhelmed and anxious. The threat that my body is responding to is a feeling that does not have a name. Kind of like how everything is scarier when it’s dark outside (or inside) because our vision is impaired. My brain has a lot of darkness in it right now, and I am working to light up my frontal lobe so that all of these emotions can be easily seen and identified, making them less fearful.
As I learn more about the frontal lobe, it is startling how important it is and difficult to consider the diagnosis of an impaired frontal lobe considering all of the functions it performs. I am sent home with homework every week and I have not been very diligent about doing it because it seems almost pointless. Every day I am supposed to take one interaction from the day and write down how I felt about it. By doing this I am forcing my brain to stretch into the frontal lobe and strengthen those muscles, rather than staying in it’s current comfort zone of the amygdala (which is really the opposite of comforting) ready to activate fight or flight at the drop of a dime.
I used to think that I was a feelings person, but I’m beginning to learn that I’m not. I would rather avoid feelings in life, especially negative ones. I have a number of coping mechanisms for doing this, none of which being healthy ones. The idea of sitting with my feelings makes me extremely uncomfortable. I feel like I need to have my guard up at all times. I don’t know what I am so afraid of, but maybe it’s a combination of everything I have mentioned above. Feelings are difficult for me to identify which makes them a threat. And a threat in any situation is something to be taken seriously. You can’t just sit back and relax if there is a threat on the horizon.
Long story short, this is where I’m at with therapy so far. Blindly staring at a long list of feelings wondering what the heck I am feeling. I admire those of you that can so easily identify and express you’re emotions in any given situation, you are amazing! And for those of us struggling, it will get easier over time, especially if we work on it (like me doing my homework…). Feelings will come and go more easily if we can just put a name to them. Right now I’ve got an army of unidentified prisoners in my brain, identify their crime and they can be set free. Because let’s be honest, a feeling is just a feeling and we are strong enough to get through even the worst feelings in the world.
Lot’s of heavy talk for you on a Monday morning. If this was too much to read at the start of your week, I totally get it! Thanks for stopping by, we’ll talk soon 🙂