Who wouldn’t love a miracle cure that could make us feel better in an instant? In our current times medications are on the rise as a more popular solution to illness or unhappiness rather than lifestyle changes. And while medication can be helpful, there is still a great lack of understanding in our society about the real process of recovery. One pill or one therapy session may start the process of recovery, but the road is often long with many ups and downs for most of us. Read more to hear about Peer Educator Aditi’s personal journey of healing and how she managed the zigs and zags along the way.
FEELING BETTER ZIGS AND ZAGS
by Aditi Sheth
A friend and I were recently discussing a Psychology course that she took that seemed to double as a kind of therapy session for her, and the students that were in it. The professor often had his students share “how they were doing” with the class, and encouraged them to dig deeper beyond the impulse to simply say, “I’m fine,” or “life isn’t great, but I’m ok.” He wanted his students to know that the common impulse that we have to push our feelings away aren’t healthy in the long run for our emotional development and well-being.
It was hard for me to see that at first, as I’ve always had the thought that the best thing to do not just for myself, but for everyone, was to carry on as if everything was ok. It saved people the stress of worrying about you, and If you can tell yourself that everything in your head is ok, eventually you’ll start to feel that way, right? Recently I have found that if you don’t give yourself to really process your emotions, they’ll begin to rear their ugly heads again sooner rather than later.
A few years ago, something happened to me that was extremely difficult for me to process. I was still in high school and I was reluctant to talk to my parents or friends, or reach out and seek professional help. Instead, I found myself attempting to distance myself, to distract myself, to pretend that what happened was unimportant, or didn’t have any real effect on me. The truth is that it did. And I still struggle with the feelings of regret and hopelessness to this day, even after so much time has passed, and even after things had gotten theoretically better, and I had become stronger.
I’m still not sure why I still struggle with these issues. I wish I could give a professional opinion about the various ways I did and didn’t process my emotions, about what I was supposed to do or what I could have done better. All I can say is that there were days that I felt like nothing had ever happened, that I could go days, weeks, months, and feel fine. And then suddenly, it all, very recently, came crashing back to me, and I’ve been struggling with how to reconcile my feelings.
All I know is that whenever anyone goes through an ordeal that weighs on them emotionally, all they want is some way to feel better. For me, the way I did was eventually letting the passage of time help me block everything out. But as far as I can tell, the passage of time isn’t the cure to all problems, even if the old adage goes “time heals all wounds.”
I’d like to share a quote from one of my favorite books, The Mothers, by Britt Bennett. “Grief was not a line, carrying you infinitely further from loss. You never knew when you would be sling-shot backward into its grip.” The process of feeling better about anything isn’t a simple and straightforward. It’s easy to fall into the trap of having to appear strong, about having to tell everyone that everything is always, constantly ok. I know that I’ve done it, and I know that it’s not my truth.
I would encourage you not to fall into this trap. Instead, recognize that feeling better is not a straight line, it’s more like a zig zag.