by Kate Fitch
This can be one of the most frustrating things to hear from people in your life when you’re recovering from a mental health condition and you’re experiencing a strong emotion. I get it, I really do. Strong emotions are part of a crisis, and if someone has seen you in crisis, they might believe you’re there when you’re experiencing strong emotions again. However, strong emotions are part of the human experience. Sometimes there is a fight in a relationship, and you become overwhelmed. Maybe everything in your life is just going right, and you’re feeling on top of the world because of it. Occasionally, a particularly emotional movie gets to you and you’re in a funk for a couple of days. These are normal parts of being human. We are emotional creatures, and emotion brings richness and meaning to our experiences.
So what do you even say to this when someone asks? Of course, I’m assuming here that you are taking medication. If you aren’t, that’s another discussion for another time.
First, I would explain why I’m experiencing such strong emotions. “When [event] happened and [person] did [action], I felt [emotion].” Particularly in a situation where there is conflict between you and the person asking, it’s important to not blame anyone for the emotions you are feeling.
That said, own the emotion. “I am feeling [emotion] as part of my normal human experience. It’s okay for me to feel [emotion].” State this for yourself and for others around you. You are allowed to feel sadness, anger, elation, frustration, and anything else that comes up. You are human.
Finally, ask if they are concerned and why. “Why did my feelings of [emotion] prompt that question? Are you concerned that I’m in crisis?” This can be helpful for a couple of reasons. First, they may be seeing signs that point to crisis that you haven’t noticed yet. In that case, you’ve received from extremely helpful feedback for getting back on your wellness plan before things get worse. Second, regardless of whether or not you are nearing crisis, this can help the other person feel reassured. They feel that you are listening to them, and are receptive to their concerns.