Feelings Can Be Illusive With Mental Illness

Feelings Can Be Illusive With Mental Illness

Emotion is a chimerical beast. I’m still learning how illusive, variable and disorienting it can be to my own internal sensation barometer.

One minute, I’m angry, only to discover it’s not anger at all; it’s frustration because something isn’t going my way. Sometimes, there is anxious restraint or guardedness but that chameleon dissolves and I see my frightful compatriot, fear. Boredom, listlessness, monotony…surprise! It has nothing to do with motivation but everything to do with unhappiness.

That dirty, deceitful, foul “F” word…Feelings. Identifying them and naming them seems akin to asking a hummingbird to hold still for a picture.

Feelings have recently taken a front row seat in the pageantry of my life as I’ve battled a severe debilitating anxiety disorder. I’ve left my job, dealt with gains, dealt with setbacks, mired through a mess to find a new direction. Life is not straightforward or clear and rarely black and white; usually there is gray. The gray is what’s confusing. It’s in the gray where I get lost.

My former co-worker, Lacy Sullivan aka “Sully,” adds her own unique autograph, if you will, to any office greeting card. Her “Lacy Logo” is a set of brightly colored balloons complete with smiley faces floating by her expressive words of joy. A happy occasion calling for Hallmark, calls for Sully’s balloons.

What better way to showcase the emotion of happiness, merriment and general heartfelt hullabaloo? Balloons are at every party, carnival and street fair so why not in between the paper flaps of corporate camaraderie?

But, not every Hallmark moment is happy or sad or emotionally clear. Again, there is the murky gray that confounds and befuddles one’s internal navigation. It spins your inner compass until you lose direction.

I left my job in the fall of 2016. I cleaned out my desk and walked away from a corporate career of 16 years, 94% of my working life, to pursue recovery from anxiety and depression. Feelings and emotions hijacked my mind and caused mutiny in my heart.

The day after my goodbyes were said and I had walked out the door into a new and different life, that office Hallmark card arrived in the mail.

After a doctor’s appointment, I picked up the post and read it in the elevator as I rode up to my floor. The kind words my co-workers had so dearly written were certainly bittersweet, but disappointment flooded my chest because there was no note from Sully inside.

I entered my apartment, tossed the mail on the table and then I saw them…on the back side of Hallmark’s sparkly “You’ll Be Missed” card…Sully’s balloons! Bouncing next to her words of encouragement were the bright, fluorescent, spirited little airships…and they all had SAD faces! I laughed out loud! Sully hadn’t gone for the straightforward or the clear. She went right to the murky confusing gray. She was happy I was pursuing better health yet sad I was leaving the workplace.

Sully wrote, “These are not happy balloons.” (The not emphatically underlined to stress her displeasure.)

“This news is just unacceptable my friend,” came next but was punctuated with a smiley face. It was the perfect, topsy-turvy, punch-drunk message. It was all sixes and sevens and I was smiling like an idiot getting off the tea-cup ride at Disney World.

Ninety Four percent of my working career had ended by handing in a set of keys. (What the hell was that tiny square shaped one for?) The fog had truly closed in around me. But, when I saw the back of that Hallmark card I thought, “Oh Sully! Thank you! Thank you for those “uplifting” frowning balloons because that is exactly how I feel!”

Shortly thereafter, I received another card in the mail, just from Sully. This time, her balloons were smiling. The card read, “By no means are these happy balloons… they are hopeful balloons. I am hopeful that before you know it, you will be all better and back to your happy self!”

Balloons are rather like emotions; they inflate, they deflate, they burst unexpectedly. They float and bounce and can slowly sag to the floor. Sometimes they escape you altogether. Yet, if we accept them, release them, allow them to drift off into the ether, they re-absorb into the matrix of sensation. I think that’s when the fog lifts and your compass dial makes sense again.

Seriously though, I have no clue. Like I said…chimerical beasts. Maybe someday, Feelings won’t be my “F” word.

© 2017 thejitterbug

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2 thoughts on “Feelings Can Be Illusive With Mental Illness

  1. Jonathan from ChooseFI ( via the facebook group). I just wanted to pop by and say hi and congratulations on taking action:) also I loved this sentence “Emotion is a chimerical beast. I’m still learning how illusive, variable and disorienting it can be to my own internal sensation barometer.” Powerful visual image! Have a great weekend 🙂

    1. Thanks Jonathan! Still working out all the technical stuff but you, Brad and the community pushed me to launch, perfect or not and I’m glad I did. Take care!

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