No Longer Hiding my Emotions

Over the years I’ve become extremely good at hiding my emotions from others.

I grew up with the belief that sadness & tears made me weak so I did my best to never cry in front of people.

I believed that my problems didn’t matter because out there in the world there was someone else with bigger problems than mine.

I believed that people wouldn’t care about what I was going through or that I would be considered a burden.

These beliefs have stayed with me up until this very day. While I’ve gotten more & more comfortable sharing my emotions & problems with others, it’s still something I struggle with today.

This has probably been one of the most difficult habits for myself to break because it’s become natural for me to just hide my emotions & bottle them up never sharing with anyone.

My entire life I’ve done my best to remain strong through all the difficult situations I faced up until now. I didn’t let others see or know the true pain I was in. There were periods where I would spend many nights crying myself to sleep at night. I didn’t want to dump my own problems on anyone else because I didn’t want to be a burden. I ended up not only carrying my own weight of problems, but the weight of those closest to me as well. I put off working through & healing my own issues, to help the ones I loved most.

It’s taken me up until now to realize that it’s important to take care of our own selves first. I neglected my own healing & stuffed my emotions deep down inside of me. In order to be of service & help to others in our lives, we must heal ourselves from within as well.

Because of the difficulties & pain I’ve faced, I never want others to feel alone or feel like they’re a burden. I am here for anyone and can be that shoulder for you to cry on. Never feel like you are a burden to others or that your problems don’t matter because they do! No matter how big or small the problem you’re faced with, it still matters.

Confronting Your Shadow Self

“There is no light without shadow and no psychic wholeness without imperfection.” – Carl Jung

This last month I stumbled upon something new called shadow work. It was something I’ve never heard of before and it intrigued me. Shadow work is when you take a closer look within yourself at the parts of yourself that you hide. The “dark side” of your personality; the negative parts you might be ashamed of, fearful around, or feel guilt around. It’s something we all have inside of ourselves, but it can be hard to acknowledge and address it.

The psychologist Carl Jung was the one who coined the term “personal shadow.” This is the part of the psyche a lot of people tend to neglect and pretend that it doesn’t exist. Even when you pretend it doesn’t exist your personal shadow can operate on it’s own without us being fully aware. It’s when the unconscious mind assumes control while our conscious self goes on autopilot. The longer you repress your shadow the more you start to see those qualities in the others around you.

At the beginning of the year, one of my resolutions was to work on my self-awareness and to heal myself from within. I spent the last three years focusing on my physical health; I didn’t spend as much time on my mental health and inner work as I should have. Something I’ve learned through my journey is that the mental transformation is just as powerful if not more powerful than a physical transformation.

Shadow work is for everyone, as humans we all have parts of ourselves we like to hide or feel embarrassed to share with others about. Throughout my childhood and early adulthood I’ve had to overcome numerous obstacles like the abuse my mom put me through for almost 18 years. All of those painful memories & experiences I had growing up, I pushed so far back in my head wanting to never think about them again.

When I stumbled upon shadow work it made me realize that I need to stop pretending that the memories don’t exist. Yes they are painful and I’m embarrassed about some of them, but they are going to resurface at some point in time so I can fully move on and continue my growth. Diving into the shadow work and committing to the process was a little scary for me. What scared me the most was fully addressing all those memories & allowing myself come to terms with them.

One of the first steps of shadow work is addressing the memories or emotions you’ve hid from for so long. You also must figure out and identify possible triggers that cause certain emotions with those memories. When you’ve identified the memories & triggers you can start to work on moving on from those to create new beliefs that will bring positive light into your life.

For me this is just the beginning of my own shadow work and bringing awareness to those dark parts so I can bring in new light. If this is something that does intrigue you I encourage you to look more into it as well. It’s something that everyone can benefit from and will only bring in more positivity in the long run.

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The Pain of Self-Harm

I was inspired by the ruler of this blog’s recent post about his self-harm story so I wanted to chime in with mine.

*I don’t want anybody to read this then get the urge to self-harm. If you’re not mentally up to it at the moment, don’t push yourself. Do whatever is the safest thing for you.*

Self-harm became a comfort for me.

Reading that you may wonder how hurting myself can ever be comfortable. But let me explain.

There’s some science somewhere that says cutting releases endorphins in your brain that make you feel good even just got a little bit. I used to hurt myself over and over and over again until I felt that my internal pain was manageable again.

I would hurt myself when I felt like total shit. When I felt that the only thing to make me feel better was to hurt myself. But once the endorphins were done swimming around, the pain begins.

At my lowest point I didn’t care that I was hurting myself on a daily basis. I didn’t feel guilty and the pain that it caused gave me something to feel instead of being numb.

At other times in my life I would feel immediately guilty. I would beat myself up about it, “Megan you shouldn’t have done this! What were you thinking doing this again?”

Hiding the fresh cuts was always the part that I hated most. It felt like another way that I had to cover up my pain instead of talking about it with someone.

As of today I haven’t self-harmed in over a year! This is a huge accomplishment for me because I don’t think I’ve ever gone this long since I began hurting myself when I was 18 (I’m now 25, almost 26). Writing that makes me feel strong!

I know that I will always struggle with the urge to self-harm. Using positive coping skills plus the power of distracting myself have been my keys to success.

The scars that I have all over my body are a reminder of how far I have come in my mental health journey. If you have scars too, let them remind you of how strong you are and that you have made it through many difficult times.

Stay strong everyone! — Megan x

The Dark Days

I’m in a dark place and I don’t know how I got here.

Honestly, I feel like I’ve been hit by a train. Only a month ago I would said, “I could handle a depression, that’s fine, I know depression.” Oh, how the ignorant spout! It turns out I can’t ‘handle’ depression. It hasn’t handled me so much as drowned me.

Three weeks ago today I made an attempt on my life. I will write about it one day but right now it feels too soon. And yet I want to write, I think I need to, but not about that. Not yet. Right now I want to talk about the repercussions which I weren’t expecting and which have hit me over the head harder than I thought possible.

Work is impossible; the idea of going to work like normal is just insane. The job I used to do with such ease (and sometimes enjoy!) feels very far away. I’ve dreamt about work several times and, in each one, I find myself standing still, staring blankly at everyone around me working and getting on with it and thinking, why the hell am I here?  So at the moment work is a no. Luckily I live in a country where my sick pay is good and my employers are supportive, so I mustn’t dismiss that blessing.

But my hobbies…I never thought I’d ‘lose’ writing. The flame was always burning: even when I wasn’t actively writing, my brain was still turning over ideas and imagining scenarios for future scenes. Now I just…I can’t. I’ve stopped and started on this post more times than I’d like to admit. My writing doesn’t seem to have a point anymore. Before, I used to work towards the ultimate goal; publication. Now the motivation is gone and, with writing being such a solo sport, there isn’t anyone to fan the flame. It’s gone out until I feel in a place to relight it.

Other previously enjoyable activities have lost their appeal too. I can’t say I’m interested in anything at present. I’ve said this to many of those who are trying to support me, and for whom I am grateful: I feel like a part of me was lost that day. The vital part of me that believed in myself and knew who I was. People tell me it’ll come back, with time, which I admit I dismiss. It’s easy to make promises about the future but they hold little weight in the present.

I think I’ll stop here. This entire post feels like a jumble but then I don’t feel my writing is up to its usual standard. Some days I wonder if it ever will. Thank you for your time. Perhaps, hopefully, I’ll be able to do an update in six months’ time, proving current me wrong. We’ll see.

Dispelling Emotional Darkness

Alien Mind

A poem, by Chelsea Walker

Within this crypt,

This coffin deep

The real me gone–

Dead, fast asleep

I dwell inside the doorless keep

of my alien mind.

Shadows darken

All I view

Gloomy yellow

Light imbues,

Scenes of horror to confuse,

In my alien mind.

Bony fingers,

Cold as ice,

Tons of pressure,

Like a vice,

Squeeze with agony inside

Of my alien mind.

Evil whispers

Fill my ears

While ghoulish phantoms

Leap and jeer.

No sound of comfort do I hear

In my alien mind.

Curled up–

Full of fear I hide.

Body trembling,

Dark inside.

Hoping visions will subside

And truth will fling the exit wide

That I may leave the darker tides

Of my alien mind.

This is darker than what I would usually write.  My intention here was to describe what it’s like to be in the depths of darkness and pain from depression.  That being said–I have to acknowledge that though this was a reality for me at one time, I have been free from this dark, alien state of mind for a long time.  I still struggle with depression, but not on such an extreme scale.  Because of what I’ve been through, I learned a significant truth:

There is always hope, no matter how deep the darkness.

The thing about darkness is that the only way to dispel it is with light.  This is true in the physical/literal realm as well as the emotional/mental realm.  Ponder with me, as I explore this idea.

There are many different sources of light in our physical world.  Sticking with what is most obvious and familiar, the first lights that come to mind are: a flashlight, a ceiling light in a room that is switch operated, and the sun.  First, properties of a flashlight are that it lights only a single beam directly where it is pointed.  The remaining area will still be dark as before.  It’s sufficient to get us from point A to point B usually, but does not provide enough light to really let us see what is going on all around us.  Second, the properties of a ceiling light in a room include that the light comes on instantly, with the flick of a switch–immediately dispelling darkness.  This type of light is usually sufficient to light the entire room at once.  Lastly, let’s examine the sun’s properties.  Imagine with me how the sun lights the earth–is it just instantly in the sky and it’s suddenly illuminating everything?  Of course not– the sunrise is a slow and gradual process that begins with a grey dawn which eventually progresses to full morning light, then climaxes with afternoon sunlight, which tends to be it’s brightest and hottest time.

Stick with me–this is where I’m going to tie this in to depression.  You’ve heard me say that depression for me felt like darkness.  I would have loved for the proverbial light switch to appear and end that instantly, but this rarely happens in these situations.  So, since the light switch was unavailable, I needed to use something to light my way while the darkness was all encompassing.  Something like an emotional flashlight.  Something to help me navigate this darkness while waiting for the sun to rise.

Because one thing you can always count on, is that the sun will rise.  It’s just a matter of time.

So what would I consider an emotional flashlight?  I would say that anything that gives you courage and strength to go on would be an emotional flashlight.  As would anything that helps you relax, recharge and be at peace.  All of these types of things keep the emotional darkness at bay.  It might only be a small bit of help, but that is what the flashlight does–it’s gets us from point A to point B.  It gives us just enough of a lift to keep going.  Here are some things that were emotional flashlights for me:

  • Guided meditations and white noise
  • Reading
  • Prayer, meditating, scripture reading
  • Attending church
  • Inspirational music, such as hymns–I also loved The Piano Guys
  • Inspirational videos
  • Quiet time
  • Journalling
  • Time outside in the sunshine and fresh air
  • Gentle exercise
  • Medications

The list could go on and your list might be different than mine.

The key thing to remember here is that this time in complete darkness will eventually pass.  The sun will begin to rise.  You will soon see the grey light of dawn instead of the black of night.

I fully acknowledge that even with my emotional flashlights, I could not have made it through the darkness of depression without the Light of the World, my Savior, Jesus Christ.  Is there a way out without Him?  I don’t know, because I’ve never tried to do it alone.  I know that He is the reason I am where I am today.  I wouldn’t have even been able to operate my emotional flashlights without His help.   Because of what I have been through, I know that there is no darkness so deep, that the Savior’s light cannot penetrate.

Maybe you aren’t so far gone.  Maybe this isn’t something you subscribe to.  If that’s the case, focus on the emotional flashlights themselves and hold on tight until the sun begins to rise and depression begins to lift.  The process might be slow, as it was for me.  But focus on the progress you are making.  Keep on moving forward as best you can.  And keep hoping for better days ahead.

Eventually, the sun will rise.