I can only speak for myself, but i think this is a very deep topic indeed, made more difficult by so many different factors.
Firstly, on a good day, my emotions can be calm, warm and fluid like the waters surrounding a beautiful island resort. On bad days, I can find myself drowning like a tiny ship being tossed around by some of the darkest, cruel and painful seas. Deep feelings washing over me as the pain engulfs me.
Before chronic illness I was mostly a very independent, happy, buoyant and peaceful person. Someone enjoying life and the challenges and opportunities it presented me. That was before chronic illness. Also. I grew up in an place and with people who considered that emotions were a sign of weakness. A thing to be ashamed of.
That was then and this is now.
Today, as pain and disability ravages my body, I find my emotions are far more changeable and raw. I think prolonged pain and emotions are very closely linked.
Sadly this world is so very ignorant to the link between real suffering and emotions, for those with chronic illness and pain, and those who suffer the most in this world will often be expected to be silent and hide the pain for the benefit of others.
Our frustrations and pain may also be dismissed as depression. It is not uncommon for doctors to regard our emotions and feelings of frustration and loss as depression. They will quickly offer anti depressants in place of listening and empathy.
Why? I really don’t know. It’s a real mystery to me.
The same people that will feel immense empathy and passion for a tv series or movie character will feel uncomfortable and disinterested in the pain of real people and struggles.
The same people that will feel passionately about some of life’s most trivial topics will not feel anything but suspicion and disbelief towards some life changing events.
Why? I don’t know.
I think emotions are very person specific and whilst many sufferers may have become more stoic over time, I feel the opposite may have been happening to me and in my journey.
As a result I have had to withdraw more and more from interacting with others as any of my emotions may not be acceptable any more. My feelings about my life and the changes that have taken place are not things most people want to aware or reminded of or generally interested in.
Conversely, his allows me to distance myself from issues and topics that I personally no longer believe are significant. The trivial and materialistic topics evoke very little responses from me anymore.
I have become very aware how I use my emotional energy and what I spend it on.
A lot of people discuss mental health in relation to chronic illness and some may even be aware of the link that one may have on the other. It may be perceived that good mental health requires that we have tight control on our emotions or endeavor to hide and mask them for others, however, I feel as though the longer I have been ill and the more pain and suffering I witness, the more I feel the real benefit of expressing myself; like a pressure valve for all that is happening inside me. In the moment.
I can allow myself to feel something and then let it pass. Like a storm. And feel release as it leaves. My emotional barometer may change more often these days but it is a truer reflection of my emotional state.
As I said at the beginning of this piece, we are all different. Sometimes we feel for different things for different reasons. But I believe our feelings are what makes us human and can connect us in a world where we are slowly disconnecting and competing more and more.
I like to think that my love and my tears are for the things that truly deserve them these days and I wouldn’t want to mask them from those I care about.