Emotionally exploding can be dangerous, often we end up hurting those closest to us and we don’t necessarily feel any better for it afterwards. That being said, sometimes I wish I had just exploded. Instead I was imploding. I thought the latter would be safer, only hurting myself but really it’s just as dangerous as the first option. I thought that I could handle everything I was feeling but the truth is I didn’t even know what I was feeling. I couldn’t separate out my emotions. Was I angry, hurt, depressed, frustrated, sad…? If I couldn’t even pin point what I was feeling, how could I explain it to anyone else? How could someone else understand what I couldn’t understand? So I bottled it up inside, trying to deal with it myself. Anxiety started to become the overriding emotion and once a week I would implode. Panic would take over my body; I couldn’t get out of bed. Simple tasks would fill me with fear and make my heart race.
I tried talking to a friend about it a couple of times – they wanted to help and suggest things that I could do to help myself but I couldn’t hear it. The fact that they could talk about my feelings so rationally and offer solutions so easily just made me feel pathetic. I felt that I was the problem – I couldn’t cope with simple situations that other people could easily manage if they were in my position.
It seemed so hopeless until one day I had arranged to see the careers advisor at my work. Before I knew it I was blurting out an incoherent, blubbering, rambling mess of how I was feeling. She was a stranger, sat there listening in silence until I had finished. When I’d finished, she didn’t try to offer an answer, she simply acknowledged that what I was feeling was valid. I wasn’t crazy, just confused and being too hard on myself. She offered me sessions with a counsellor where I could have the space and time to try and get to the source of what I was feeling, identify what was triggering my anxiety, and work on some practical tools I could use to stay calmer during an episode of anxiety. I’m still a work in progress but, a year after my turning point I feel the burden has lifted significantly. I’m trying to keep my family and friends clued in on what I’m working through so they can help spot when I am feeling overwhelmed. When I feel the tendency to bottle it all up and implode I turn to someone I really trust and simply say “I’m feeling anxious today but I’m not really sure why”. They don’t always understand but they are trying to. I think it helps them to know I am not being distant and moody; I’m just trying to stay above water.
Try talking to someone. If you feel you can talk to a friend or family member then give it a go. If it doesn’t make you feel instantly better that’s ok. There are other options out there. If you would rather talk to a stranger, there are great free services through school, or through a recommendation by your GP. If you don’t know what to talk about or can’t put into words how you are feeling then even saying that is a start. Stop beating yourself up for not being able to cope. It’s ok to admit that you feel overwhelmed. It will take time but you can feel better. You deserve to be happy.
Louise is a Research Scientist working in Dublin i.e. she is a massive geek. She is passionate about informing and encouraging young adults - empowering them to realise how awesome they truly are!