I had the distinct pleasure and ability to spend some time on a hospital psychiatric ward.
No, I wasn’t a patient. Although some people think I should be.
I was an advocate for a family member who had been put there by her cheating, double life leading, soon to be ex husband.
My family member was put there because of her reaction to this news. It wasn’t deemed appropriate by the person who put her there.
Hanging out on a psychiatric ward is sobering and humbling.
I learned many important lessons the week I spent there watching out for, and loving my family member.
I learned there is a very fine line between sanity and insanity.
I learned that sometimes, the sane people are on the wrong side of the door.
As children, we are taught to be strong. We are taught to suck it up. Don’t be a sissy. Get over it. Pull up your boots by their bootstraps and get back on the horse.
In other words, don’t show emotion.
So we suck it up, keep it in, and go through life.
As we age, the emotions try to come out. A baby is born and we cry. It’s okay to cry when it’s a happy occasion. That shows what a great emotional human you are. You can cry when you show love. You are allowed to cry at a funeral.
But cry and show emotion when the person you trusted, loved, honored and were vulnerable for leaves after a few decades of living together. That will get you driven to the psychiatric ward.
Cry when you go to war and see people blown up in front of your face and you will be thought of as weak.
Cry when you see another human die in a tragic way and you’re told to get over it.
Cry over a childhood lost from physical or mental abuse and you’re told to take medication so you don’t feel the pain.
We spend our lives running and hiding from the emotion that life inflicts on us.
Where does that emotion go if we don’t release it?
Emotion changes and morphs. It gets angry and frustrated. It eventually comes out as the emotions we shoved inside and is released as emotions we can’t control. Usually anger or self inflicted pain.
It’s like a match in a trash can that smolders then sets a curtain on fire. It starts small and grows. When it isn’t put out, it gets out of control.
Showing emotion should not be a bad thing. We should not be criticized because we are human. Humans are supposed to have emotions.
Emotions are a human experience.
Hiding our emotions is harmful to our health.
Emotions are energy. If the energy isn’t released, it stays with us. In our bodies. Our bodies know, they remember.
Drugs (or medications) don’t release the energy. Drugs bury emotional feelings and temporarily make them go away. They bury the bad emotions. They bury the good emotions. Drugs aren’t picky, they bury all emotion.
Medication can be helpful to get over the trauma of a given event. Long term use doesn’t make emotions disappear and solve the problem. It creates more problems that need to be dealt with later on, mental and physical.
I used yoga to rid my body of the emotional pain and agony it felt when my 24 year marriage abruptly ended.
Yoga became my vice. The harder the better. The faster the yoga, the more anger was released. The more strength I gained, the more anguish disappeared. The louder the music, the happier I became. The more yoga I practiced and the more sweat I dripped on my mat, the quicker I healed my mind.
I owe yoga my sanity.
Painful emotions are physical. Heartbreak hurts. Betrayal hurts. The loss of trust hurts. Emotional abuse is as painful, sometimes more painful than physical pain. Physical pain can heal. Bruises go away. Cuts leave scars but skin repairs itself.
Healing mental pain is much more challenging.
My family member was criticized for getting emotional after her marriage broke up and her family was broken. My Ex told me I had to get over it. He couldn’t understand why I was upset. He told me my emotions were out of control and I needed help.
Upset emotions do need help. For me, I went and got help. I was a lucky one.
People who don’t feel any emotions also need help.
Feeling no emotions, or the inability to have empathy and compassion for others is a far worse way to live then feeling life. Emotions are part of who we are. Emotions are life.
Feeling emotion is sanity.
For me, living without understanding the struggle that others live with, being compassionate for the emotional fear that humans experience daily, and trying to do what I can to help relieve suffering, would not be living.
Questioning the emotional response of a painful experience when an emotional response is valid and normal doesn’t make the human having the emotional experience insane.
It means the person doing the questioning is on the wrong side of the door.
Don’t run and hide from your emotions. Express them . Let them go. Feel them. Own them. Know that feeling emotions are normal.
Release your emotions when they need to be released so you can keep them coming. The good, the bad and they ugly.