Early on in my counseling, I explained that one of my medical doctors told me that I was depressed and didn’t know it. I felt like “DUH” I would know if I was depressed. My therapist looked fairly amused while I recounted this experience. (I learned to be very cautious if my counselor was amused by what I said.) He asked me gently, “Have you ever been angry and didn’t do anything about it?” My reply, “Sure, every day.” He continued, “That is depression. You are depressing your emotion.” Well Crumbs…..we weren’t even talking about the same thing. I really was depressed and didn’t know it. I am the ultimate hider. I used depression to hide anger, anger hid hurt, fear or frustration and finally I dissociated myself from the whole mess and I literally had no idea what was going on inside of me. I was the last to know. No small wonder it took 10 years of counseling to get me to the point I could navigate on my own. Some days, I’m not too impressed with my progress. I am now fully aware I use depression to control my raging anger. My raging anger is hiding a whole bunch of messy stuff. Ten years of therapy taught me the messy stuff doesn’t go away if I ignore it. Like rabid dust bunnies they just keep piling up. Peel away the layers.
One of the techniques I learned about in computers is reverse engineering. Take a result and move backwards to find out what came before that. I feel an emotion. First I need to name it. What is it? I learned that excitement feels a lot like anger. I also learned that I didn’t know the name of some of the emotions I felt. I did a search using Emotion list pdf and came up with a whole stack. The one that appealed to me had all sorts of little pictures going with each one:
Do your own search. Find a list that you like. I don’t agree with many of the lists that label some of the emotions “negative” or “positive” because things like anger can be positively livid. I learned that each emotion has its own role and clues as to what I need to do to increase it or do something to decrease the discomfort I am feeling. If I acted cruelly to someone and laugh about it, that is negative. If I feel remorse and act on that remorse by sincerely apologizing I can work to improve the relationship. There are a bunch of emotions out there. I took my time getting to know them. I learned that more than one project I did was motivated by anger which was fueled by frustration that started in childhood. These emotions are amazing when you get to know them. To me, they add color and diversity and challenges and make living difficult and amazing all at the same time. Saddest thing I am seeing these days is people using all sorts of methods to deaden their emotions thinking not feeling is better. It isn’t. I went down that road. It is terrible. I recommend getting a counselor that can teach how to navigate feelings but suppressing them only builds a lot of emotional pressure that usually messy when it finally finds an outlet. Bring out those emotions and get to know them. It is challenging but worth it.