EMOTIONAL EXPERIENCES 

A reference to all

ON DEPRESSION 

Many of us think that being depressed implies constant state of being sad. However, depression is not solely about sadness. It is far more insidious. I think of depression as “noisy-silence.” One might be in a state of silence but that state might be marked by chaos. That is to say, depression is not merely the absence of happiness or the presence of sadness. Depression is synonymous with words such as flatness, evenness, and indifference. It is when one is unable to engage with reality like the way they are used to.
Depression is physical. The physical experience of depression leaves one with marked slowness and exhaustion to the point of impairment. The complaint “not being able to get out of bed in morning” is a physical and mental manifestation of depression. It speaks volumes to how debilitating it can be. 
The mental experience of depression leaves one with a wave of fog that impairs cognitive capacities such as concentration and comprehension. Reading or following instructions might be impossible to execute without repetition. 
The emotional element of depression is clearly experienced. Apathy or the absence of emotion or lack of the variability of emotions might be a marker of experiencing depression. Sadness might be clearly expressed but it might be hard to comprehend indifference when voiced. 
Experiencing depression has social consequences. A person who lives with depression might not not be viewed as socially attractive to others. The uniqueness of the experience of depression leaves a person alone. Loneliness exacerbates depression. Intervention must be wholistic and results are not instantaneous. Therefor, a Mental Health Professional must be aware and sensitive to the current needs presented. Management might vary between comforting and challenging. This variation might help a client from moving through and out of stagnation. 

Trees in Winter

ON ANXIETY 

If anxiety was a sound, it would be loud and screeching! Anxiety has a dominating quality; it surpasses any available emotion to be the most present of emotions. It is baffling how anxiety can be expressed internally and externally. 

Internally, it might be a feeling of being disjointed or an inability to access other emotions. Of course, it is not limited to the absence of calmness. However, irritability, can be the loudest of our internal experience of anxiety.

Externally, anxiety is felt within the body. The body is accurate in registering the presence of emotions; a clenched jaw, an achy neck, or an unintentional fist are few examples of the presence of being anxious in our body. 

There is an after-effect of anxiety. It might be delayed but expressed in our inability to sleep or being distracted while trying to concentrate. 

Intervention of anxiety must consider the emotional, cognitive, and physical aspects. Clients may find comfort in the process of understanding the link between these elements.

Sparkler

ON TRAUMA  

It is that moment when we get submerged under and in between layers of morass. This moment when our being is threatened on a fundamental level is exactly a moment of trauma. Trauma might be present when expressing, witnessing, or being with someone who was exposed to physical or emotional threat. 

In a traumatic experience, an individual may experience absolute or partial absence of control. This state of being under threat activates something primal within us; It is the moment when we lose control presenting a state of Fight, Flee, or Freeze. What happens after that moment is what is clinically named Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD.

An individual with PTSD suffer an ill sense of being. The incongruity of knowing that one have passed the threat but is still stuck in it somehow is painful to endure. The aftermath of experiencing a trauma results in both psychological and physical malaise. It renders us with expressions that might not match daily challenges, namely, avoidance, hyper-vigilance and flashbacks. 

Intervention can be described as realignment of emotional, psychological and physical symptoms. It starts with reinstalling a feeling that was lost — safety. It is important to remember that what is offered in therapy and its outcome is all a Process rather than an event. Therapists do not take pain away; instead, they facilitate a state of catharsis. 

Tunnel

ON GRIEF 

The most intimate of emotional experiences. Grief invites contradiction; it is extremely individual-specific but also universal. When we grieve a loss, we feel exotic to everyone around us. This sense of being foreign is not mitigated by the fact that everyone have experienced grief somehow. 

We might be aware of how the grieving process starts, but we never know the anatomy of its structure because it affects each person differently. To grieve is Not by itself a Disorder, but it is the suffering of chaos and disorder. 

Unfortunately, an individual grieving might be lead to being depressed or anxious, but diagnosis must be diligently wholistic. There is a level of grief in all of us. 

Intervention in cases where there is grief involves exploring meaning and creating rituals of connection. We might not want to forget, but rather remember those who co-created our reality with their love and closeness. A connection is never lost. 

Portrait of Young Man

ON STAGNATION 

Like a stone in a river, reality shapes us continuously. As with everything in nature, we go through changes every single day. These changes occur on a micro and a macro level. A person might be able to witness these changes and developments occurring. At some point, we become able to say “I have changed.” The process of changing is ever dynamic. 

Occasionally, we feel a dreaded sense of stopping. This sense is never described with the concept of clarity, but rather murkiness. We might have been experiencing this sense of stopping because we lack exposure or witnessing from others, or because we might have not been challenged, or because we might be too comfortable where we are. 

Stagnation, or absence of motion can be a source of boredom and disinterest. Stagnation is never synonymous with stability; the former, occurs at a superficial level. The latter, occurs deeply. We are able to change and challenge ourselves when we are deeply rooted and stable from within. In contrast, we tend to fall in stagnation when we feel afraid of what might occur if we branch out.

In therapy, we might experience stagnation. It is when we are unable to move from where we are therapeutically. It is highly dependent on what is presented in the dynamics of therapy, as well as what a client is practicing after the end of the session. Therapy creates ripples in the pool of our being, we need to witness and monitor ourselves as we respond to therapy and communicate the changes occurring at our surface and our depth.

Muddy Shoes

ON BEFRIENDING 

Occasionally -more often than casually desired- we get more busy than what we can handle; meetings, a lunch date, that deadline to survive, or that conversation we must have. It is a feeling of being hyper-focused and productive. We might feel that our life is eventful and varied in wavelengths. Cognitively, one might feel as if they are browsing from one thing to another without stopping. Emotionally, on the other hand, one may feel as if they were estranged from their own self. As if one is deflated and empty. 

We strive to remediate that sense of emptiness. Therefore, we engage in different hobbies or activities that might aid in filling up that void. To sit with our own emptiness may become what we dread to entertain. It is when we are unable to be our own good company. 

For many, sitting with oneself might be considered a form of practicing boredom. It is unfortunate to witness that lack of amusement towards our own mental, physical and emotional bodies. When was the last time one sat to contemplate on our physicality or part of it? When was the last time one had tea with a sense of gratitude to those who picked up each tea leaf? When was the last time we sent an ethereal Thank You note to each body part for handling us without a complain? Practically, for most these practices may seem bizarre. 

For most, the word compassion signifies the presence of someone separate from our being. However, the practice of compassion can be applied to each part of ourself. Think about it as a way of getting closer and more aligned with our own being. We spend a lifetime trying to make peace with ourselves. A truce may not be enough but rather a sense of befriending to our own self is needed. 

Waiting Area

ON LONELINESS 

Generally, the notion of loneliness is met with a level of rejection. One may have been rejecting loneliness due to our perception of what it would be like to be alone. One may think of being alone as a form of punishment and estrangement. However, being alone is not synonymous with being ostracized. There is a spectrum in loneliness. We might be physically alone but emotionally connected. In contrast, we might be present with people around us and feel ostracized. 

Human beings are social creatures. Therefore, we perfected a way to include and exclude others from our lives. We became adept in the practice of explicit and implicit snark and -possibly- mockery. We gage how we fit and how others fit within our social  emotional parameters. 

We learn from an early age how to gage the effect of those around us. This ability becomes what we might refer to as “gut-feeling.” We reject those who might seem like harmful to us. First impressions become the tools of which we base our judgment. We start forming a mini-questionnaire that is applied automatically to assess those we who we come across. We start having strong opinions and oppositions of certain criteria. We start feeling differentiated and form a bubble around us. 

Expectations may lead to resentment. This is an invitation to stretch our thoughts and ideas about what is expected from  others. It is also an invitation to meditate on loneliness and how we we might lock ourselves in a lonely place by building our own walls of rejection. Maybe if we had fewer expectations we might experience people differently. Maybe if we became skilled at monitoring how we build these walls we become more able to peak through our imaginary fences

Utility Pole

ON CONSUMPTION 

Many of us grow learning about a part within us that enjoys consumption. There is a power in the process of purchasing items and having to carry these items from a store somewhere to our own place. This ritual of walking out of a store while carrying a beautifully wrapped body of items is completed by the climax of unwrapping. There is a sense of completion when an item - that once was seen in-store - is now sitting solely on one’s own shelf. There is an implicit look of pride that we address ourselves  with when we see our store-bought prize the next day. A voice that congratulates us on our ability to own items — to consume things.

The ritual of consumption becomes a self-soothing behavior. Slowly we start getting used to carrying scented paper bags that are filled with items that we craved to meet our sense of fulfillment. The allure of finding that tactfully hidden item starts to faint. These layers of paper holding the item become a representation and - possibly- a symbol of burden. 

Items that we crave are not the enemy. In fact, it might be a representation to what we stand for or what we want to represent. Essentially, we want to appeal to our own being. We want to be accepted by ourselves while looking at our collection of items that we consume. We hope for a better us in every purchase. 

This is not an invitation for massive consumption, this is an invitation to spark curiosity about what we are constantly looking for. We need courage to want to see ourselves without being in the shadow of the items surrounding us. We might want to ask ourselves, what are we hiding from? What do we want to burry with each process of unwrapping?

Mask in the snow