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Tuesday, September 18, 2012

the balancing act that is repression and expression

In my first identifiable depressive episode, which also lasted a few years, I self-helped my way to push the depression I always had into remission. One of the skills I learnt then, was how I needed to not keep my thoughts and feelings to myself so much, to learn to talk about them. To validate the emotions I had and realise it was not weak for me to express how I truly felt. Repression is a cause for depression striking, and I did know it rang very true for me.

Recent years, during this current depressive relapse, I put that into motion again. I express my feelings on words, be it here, or in tweets. It isn't easy opening a closed book, but I succeeded.

I felt disappointed with myself though, lately, because I realised I was still repressing. A couple of weeks ago, a sick foster cat who had cancer, died. I am used to death, being I'm the rescue industry, so I was pretty okay emotionally; didn't get attacked by a bout of welschmerz.

But I ended up being even more deflated, exhausted, demotivated about things after that. It has been difficult. Getting work done was impossible. And only when after a couple of weeks had passed, then did I realise that the foster cat's death was the straw that broke the camel's back. I had been broken, burnt out, and pushed into a life-sucking deflatedness.

Why did it take me so long to realise all this? I thought I should have sooner seen that a rescue's death will shake me; cement me in being burnt out, put on another layer of shadows that is depression itself. I asked my psychiatrist this question.

He said that sometimes we may bury certain feelings, but it also isn't all bad. Maybe it should only be opened up and revealed when we are ready to deal with it. Like various things we hide in closets, we should only open them to pack the closet when we are ready to pack. Opening it when when we are not ready to pack yet, will just leave the closet in a bigger mess than before.

This comforts me about my native instinct to repress my feelings. But I will continue to explore my feelings to validate them, and express them in words that are plain and not poetry-cryptic. When long-buried feelings surface, it means it is also time to validate those, and there will each time be a good reason why they had stayed behind for a while. All this said, because I need to learn how to cope with life's downs better, that are hidden within the myriad of emotions that is in my being.

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