“People are constantly not feeling, but numbing themselves, either through medication or playing on their phones. If you start feeling bad, it’s like, ‘Distract! Distract! Put on Storage Wars!’ And I know because I’m guilty of it, too.”
– Mary Lambert
Anyone who knows me knows that I’m the biggest “non” Donald Trump fan that is currently walking the planet. But in this blog, I have to borrow one of his stupidest ideas and use it as my own.
Sometimes, a “wall” really might be the only answer.
And it’s time to rebuild mine.
A few months ago, I made the decision (together with my doctor) to discontinue depression medication. It was not an easy decision, physically or mentally. If you’re not a regular follower of this blog, I wrote once about how “addicted” I was to the medication I was on (see here). It was a timely and difficult process of weaning, but here I am on the other side and all is well, right?
And here’s why: I feel things again.
You know that feeling when you’ve been sick for a very long time and you finally get the inklings of starting to feel better? That the end is in sight? You become so appreciative and aware of how great it is to not feel sick. It’s almost like euphoria.
Well, what I’m feeling right now is the exact opposite of that.
I had a random discussion with someone once who declared himself an empath. As I listened to him talk, I wondered if that was what I am – if I had finally found the right “diagnosis.” An empath feels things. Not just temporarily and not just on the surface, but they feel them. That doesn’t mean they are just sensitive. Being sensitive means that you feel your own feelings very strongly. No, an empath not only feels their own feelings – but they feel others’ feelings at the same level that they feel their own (sometimes even more). It’s actually a fascinating phenomena. But the more I researched it, the more I realized that even though it may be fascinating, and even though it sounds like being this way would be a good thing, it’s actually quite horrible.
For instance. When my children were small, whenever they’d have a tummy ache, my stomach would hurt too. When they had their tonsils out, I could hardly swallow anything for a week. When my son had yet another bout of strep throat in his toddler years, my throat would not only hurt but I could ‘smell’ the sickness on him. Crazy, right?
Well, over time, I just passed all that off as a mother’s intuition. But it just wouldn’t go away.
And it’s not only my children anymore.
In fact, I don’t even have to know the person.
National news; the political firestorm that is surrounding us right now; the constant struggle for equality; the bombing and devastation in foreign countries – I literally cannot stand it. I can’t sleep. My stomach hurts. I cry.
See? I read that quote and it started to make sense to me. Is this what is wrong with me right now?
And you know how I handle all of these feelings welling up inside me? Oh, it’s a complicated, difficult method that I’ve worked hard to hone over the years.
I get pissed.
Yup. I get pissed right off. Because anger is the easiest emotion to deal with, right? When everything starts piling up and I can’t stand it anymore, I just get mad. Those other emotions are hard, but mad? Oh, mad is easy. It’s my favorite.
Does it solve anything? Nope. Does it make me feel better? Nope. But what else am I supposed to do?
Oh yeah. Now I remember.
I sound like I’m joking, but I’m not. That medication is apparently the only thing that’s going to “save” me. I can’t live like this. I just can’t. The medication serves as somewhat of a blinder. It helps me not “see” all that I’m seeing right now. People are so damn cruel. They just are. They are egotistical, they are condescending, they are furious and taking it out on any and every one who is around them. And me? Hell, I’m mad too. I’m so pissed I can’t even think straight. I start having a conversation about current issues or political happenings and what happens? The convo turns to criticizing and belitting me. Simply because the person doesn’t agree with me or doesn’t see things my way.
What the hell, man?
I recently started a fundraiser in my area called Agreeable Disagreers. And even though it has done a tremendous amount of “good” in my little county, I’m starting to realize that everything has a price. Because of the title of the group, I have been personally attacked and ridiculed many times because I engage in controversial discussions on Facebook. The last attack was just too much. The entire fundraiser’s goal was challenged because I, the leader of the group, chose to write a negative review about a local restaurant. Apparently “agreeing to disagree” is supposed to be interpreted as never opening your mouth and saying a word. I was made out to be a liar, a hypocrite, and a fraud, simply because I choose to place a review on a restaurant’s website when they asked for it.
I guess I didn’t make myself clear with the title of the group.
It has the word “DISAGREERS” in it. Do you know what that means? It means we still disagree. People aren’t going to agree on everything all the time. They just aren’t. But when you don’t agree, you don’t personally attack a person. Because this restaurant is in a small town, it was viewed as a “personal attack” on the owner because I wrote a bad review. To me, that is absurd. It’s a BUSINESS. I don’t know that owner from Adam and I personally don’t care who she is. She’s running a business and she has a website that asks for reviews. I gave one. (Incidentally, this “negative” review included how fabulous the food is, but that the wait time is ridiculous. I’m sure I shut the place down with that, right?).
And here’s the thing – I’m sure people aren’t going to like a negative business review. And I’m sure that business owner has friends who aren’t going to like me now because I gave it. Fine. Be that way. But to publicly humiliate me? Move to shut down a fundraiser that I run because of my “hypocrisy?”
What the hell is wrong with people?
And most recently, I had someone who was supposed to be a “friend” bring this up as well – throw it my face that I set out to intentionally harm another person with that review. Are you kidding me? Me? Set out to intentionally harm someone? Why on earth would I do that?
I feel their pain too.
I would never ever intentionally harm an individual. Ever. Trust me on this. Sure, it might happen – but it is never my goal. And I know I can be a fiery fighter when I feel like someone has been wronged, including myself, but I would never want to personally attack a person for some kind of personal gain. That’s just plain ridiculous.
Unlike some of my other blog posts, there’s no happy ending to this one. There’s no life lessons, no rays of sunshine, no finding the silver lining. No sir, this blog is just pure and simple telling it like it is. People treat each other like shit now, and I absolutely hate it. It hurts me to my core and I don’t think I can stand it anymore.
Time to rebuild. Back up goes the wall, and I’m checking out. You guys duke it out on your own, I’m choosing not to be a part of it anymore.
“Depression is something that doesn’t just go away. It’s just… there and you deal with it. It’s like… malaria or something. Maybe it won’t be cured, but you’ve got to take the medication you’re prescribed, and you stay out of situations that are going to trigger it.”
– Adam Ant
Remember, having enemies means you’ve stood up for something at some point. Fuck em. Having haters is awesome.
Whip It Good.
I love you and the words that come out of your mouth/brain/fingertips. Magical, I tell ya. I may not agree with all of it, but I respect your views.
I always agree to disagree.
I have enjoyed reading your posts and find your writing and observations to be wise for a “young woman” (I’m almost 66!) It can be challenging to be empathic and aware of the many important issues that others can not, do not, or don’t choose to see.
Empaths must be choosy about what/who they expose themselves to. Andrew Weil M.D. recommends not watching world news.
Don Miguel Ruiz M.D. wrote a wonderful short book “The Four Agreements” that helped me understand not to take things personally that others say or do. It’s a reflection of their life and choices.
While there may not be anything to be done personally to positively affect global issues, I acknowledge the initiative you have demonstrated in supporting local community causes and standing up for what you believe to be right.
Being an empath helped me to be a better nurse. It was easy to anticipate my patients needs, and now retired-I am good at providing what my family and friends need without them saying a word…
Empaths do well to surround themselves with positive people and regroup their energy, thoughts and centeredness with periods of solitude in nature, meditation, prayer or joyful activities like gardening, walking, running, etc. A good night’s sleep helps too!
My dogs, with their unconditional love, recharge me-and the peace and beauty of the mountains does the same.
Best wishes Melissa…
Oh, my sweet friend, I’m so sad at this post. You see, I’m an empath too. And it took me a long time to recognize what was happening, and to learn how to separate my own feelings and emotions from those around me. I can’t explain “how” I do it, and sometimes I get lazy. So when I start to feel overly angry, anxious, or overwhelmed I have to take a step back and ask myself if it’s really “me” that’s feeling those things, or is it the people around me. Or even the news, and world events. I thought I was going to have to take days off from work when the Orlando nightclub thing happened. And every time I read about another death, like Freddie Gray, or Orlando Castille, or Alton Sterling, I start crying. I’m welling up as I type this.
I had a terrible two years at work because of difficult coworker. Our personalities clashed from the very beginning, and was an entire year before I realized that not only was I frustrated in my own mind, but I was picking up on her frustration, and my other co-worker’s frustration, and it was all building inside me. However, once I was able to recognize what was happening I was able to detach myself from their emotions and simply feel my own. The second year was still unpleasant, but much less emotionally taxing.
I agree wholeheartedly with what Laurel Dee Snyder says above. Be choosy who you surround yourself with. Choose your battles. I stopped posting political and social justice stuff on Facebook because it was beginning to negatively affect my family, as well my own emotional well-being. I can live all the things I believe and espouse without making it a public spectacle on social media and inviting negativity and misunderstanding from those who disagree or oppose what I’m standing for. And my family is always going to come first, regardless of whether they agree with, or understand, where I fall on certain issues.
At any rate, if medication is what it takes for you to be able to feel only your own emotions, then you have to do what is right for you. There are more people in Ashe county who are like minded on many of the same issues, they just don’t speak up as much, or as loudly, or as publicly, as some. Perhaps out of fear, perhaps because they recognize the likelihood of backlash. Most likely because they recognize that they have to continue to live in the community, amongst a majority that don’t hold their same values. It’s a fine line to tread, and one that I’m still learning to navigate!
Blessings and peace to you, my friend, on your journey, and on your path of learning. Please reach out if you’d like to talk sometime.
Philando Castille…I’m terrible with names…and I couldn’t edit!!