If our emotions were M&Ms, my box would mainly be the one colour. Don’t get me wrong, it would certainly contain a range of colours to reflect my rather broad emotional vocabulary, but there is one which is well out of proportion to the others and that is anxiety. I have felt it so much and for so long now that it’s just become my “normal” state, and to be relaxed is a privilege. After having little luck with various therapies, relaxation strategies, and anti-anxiety herbs, I’ve just about given up and accepted that I will take this anxiety to the grave with me. But while reading Heller and LaPierre’s “Healing Developmental Trauma”, I came across a different perspective on chronic anxiety which might explain why it’s so ingrained and difficult to change in some people. Continue reading “Chronic anxiety: a reflection”
I would like to start out by expressing just how deeply grateful I am for having been allowed the opportunity to write on this blog. However I find that I am nervous and unsure as this is my first time writing anything on a blog like this. Nor am I a wordsmith by any measure so I hope that I can deliver as expected.
My name is Ned. I am 26 years old and live in the Dandenong ranges. I recently had my very fist experience with depression. It started about a 3 months ago and lasted for about 2 and a half months. I understand that two and a half months is not a long time nor was the severity of my depression, knowing people with long term depression of a much harsher nature, so I do not mean to come across as being petty or attention seeking. However being the first time that it happened I felt very confused and worried as to why I felt so different all of a sudden. I normally feel as though I could take on the world. Even on my off days I can muster the mental fortitude to discard my worries and carry on with a positive outlook and a smile. But I found that I had lost my ability to do so. That was how it started. I would come home form a difficult day at work and would find that there was no resurfacing. I felt as though I was perpetually flat and no longer had any excitement in my life. I was over everything. All the things I would normally look forward to seemed to no longer interest me. Even the things I didn’t look forward to, such as working on Sundays, I would often be able to march into with a confidence and a ‘get it done and get out alive’ attitude all started to seem too much. I began to feel isolated and alone despite having numerous and close friends. These were all things that I had never felt or experienced before.
Setting and maintaining boundaries is an issue that comes up a lot for me. It is something I have struggled with for a long time and still struggle with but I have come a long way and would like to share what I have learnt in this post.
I like this definition of a boundary which I found on the internet:
A boundary is defined as “the invisible line that separates the participants in a relationship and allows each to maintain a separate identity” (source: The Shack).
Boundaries are a very important, but under-valued, part of relationships. In healthy relationships we can be together and also apart. Boundaries are especially important for HSPs given it takes less for us to become overwhelmed. For me setting a boundary such as a time limit for when I see a friend has made the encounter seem more manageable and I have experienced less dread about it the night before. It has helped me enjoy the time we spend together more.
Anger is a difficult emotion for many HSPs. While quickly dismissed as a “bad” emotion, I feel there is a place for negative emotions like anger. They’re the starting point for doing something about the injustices of this world. While anger has become associated with aggression, violence and destruction, as an activist I observe far more dangerous and destructive states, such as apathy. I’d like to re-post some words of wisdom by Michelle McClintock (psychologist) which I read on the ADAVIC Anxiety Disorders Association of Victoria’s Facebook page and often find myself coming back to.
“But the imprint is always there. Nothing is ever really forgotten.”
Evanescence ~ Understanding (Can’t Wash It All Away)
Discovering John Bradshaw’s “inner child” work has been a big part of my own healing journey and is something I am passionate about sharing with other HSPs. In this post I would like to share how his work resonates with me and I will provide some links to his videos for readers who would like to explore this rich territory themselves.
On the Ophra Show, John introduces the wounded “inner child” as that thirsty, needy part of himself which comes out in relationships. It’s the part of himself who needs constant affirmation he is loved, who misconstrues things, who’s quick to feel abandoned. And while John’s conscious mind seems to know he’s being “irrational”, the feelings, the urges, the fears are still there. This is something I too experience but I’ve found very difficult to articulate. There are many psychology tests out there which ask people to rate their agreement with a series of statements (e.g. I am a good person). I always struggle with such an exercise. I am aware of a conflict within my being, between my conscious and unconscious, between my beliefs and my feelings. As I’ve tried to explain it’s almost like there’s two selves who would answer the question differently. I now understand that second self as my “inner child”. The inner child is essentially a semi-independent entity which is subordinate to the waking conscious mind. Continue reading “Healing the inner child”