When You Feel Trapped in Your Skin

anxiety depression ptsd Aug 06, 2018

You know that feeling of an endless pit in your stomach filled with sludge? It's heavy and deep and you can't lighten it or clear it no matter what you try? You know rationally that there's no reason for you to feel bad, but emotionally you can't shift it. Yeh, me neither.

My mother taught me that I had control over my emotions. It was as simple as choosing to be happy. "Turn that frown upside down." "Pull yourself up by your boot straps." "Wallowing in misery is self indulgent." This way of thinking came with many messages: You're weak if you're upset. You are only worthy of attention when you're happy and accomplished. When you feel bad, you should shove it aside quickly.

So I learned that if I couldn't snap myself out of a bad mood, that there was something wrong with me, that I was deficient, weak. I was ashamed about my lack of control. I carried this through my adulthood, believing that we could be happy most of the time. We just had to try harder to control our focus. 

This was reinforced by what I learned from Tony Robbins, a strategic intervention life coach. He teaches that "Where focus goes, energy flows." He shows people how to change your emotional state in a snap. He further reinforced my belief that I could change how I feel. Along with that though came my belief that if I couldn't change how I feel, I was not trying hard enough, that I was failing.

I've struggled with depression and anxiety most of my life. I went on anti depressants. I did lots of therapy. I was diagnosed with PTSD and I saw a trauma therapist who did EMDR. I read lots of self help books on the subject. I was in 12 step programs for years. I got a sponsor. I worked the program. I got accupuncture for anxiety. I took herbal supplements. I tried essential oils. I followed a guru and learned how to meditate. I got massages. I exercise regularly. Everything helps for a little while and then I default back to feeling trapped in my own skin.

Again, I get it. I know better. I take a nap. I take a shower. I get dressed up. I write in my journal. I play music I love. I talk to my best friend. I say all the affirmations. I think about my worth and the grace of my existence. I connect with my inner little girl. I visualize loving her. I have a conversation with my anxiety, "dance with the devil" so to speak. And sometimes, I return to that deep crappy feeling. It's visceral in my gut.

And then come the messages: You're weak. You're a failure. You have no business coaching others. There's something wrong with you.

Here's what I know for sure: SOMETIMES YOU HAVE TO SIT IN YOUR SHIT. No one will admit this to you. Stop pushing it away, pretending it doesn't exist, altering your state with drugs, giving yourself a guilt trip for feeling like shit, dumping all over yourself for not being able to snap out of it, and trying to commune with your bad feelings!! JUST STOP!

IT'S OK TO FEEL LIKE SHIT SOMETIMES FOR NO REASON. IT DOESN'T MEAN ANYTHING. It means you're human. Forgive yourself for not being able to connect your rational brain with your emotional brain sometimes. Whoever says they're happy most of the time is LIEING. 

As a matter of fact, we need the contrast, the yin yang. Without the darkness, there is no light. Without the confusion, there is no clarity. Without the despair, there is no appreciation. LET IT BE.

I love the serenity prayer. Control what is within your control and accept the rest. Here's what you CAN do: when the sludge comes, let it come. STOP the associations, the messages, the fighting, and the beliefs about the feeling. Let it sit and let it wash through you. Don't rush it. Know that you need to experience the deep darkness to feel the clear lightness. It is a MYTH that we can be happy most of the time. 

Feeling like shit has means one thing only: YOU ARE HUMAN. Reach out if you'd like to connect.



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