How often do we advocate mental health yet nobody talks about how vulnerable one has to be to be in good mental health. Our upbringing and our society over time has reinforced the idea that emotions are directly related to being “bad” “weak” “regressive” “unproductive” which has reduced our ability to face and tolerate the pain. As we grew up, we received no guidance on how to deal with or talk about how we were feeling and hence we face difficulty today identifying and expressing emotions.
What is bottling up emotions? When due to our inability to process our own feelings, we choose to suppress them, we believe in facing challenges instead of sulking over them, and let the uncomfortable feeling just disappear — this is bottling up. Imagine it like a stack. Every time life gives you a situation where emotions comes into picture, instead of processing and handling them, you simply choose to push your feelings into this imaginary stack and concentrate on dealing with the situation practically. Problem being, the stack isn’t organized and can pop or shuffle up without prior warnings.
Your feelings do not magically disappear. They brew up inside of you as you suffer emotional build up without even realizing it. That is the heavy feeling we have in our head and heart all the time. And here are 5 signs you can identify with if you bottle up emotions-
This is the most prominent sign of bottled up emotions. When you start to feel uneasy from within, when your insides are knocking to let things out, you distract yourself because you understand what is happening to you and it just doesn’t feel good. Engaging in activities like smoking, drinking or any other form of substance abuse — even high amounts of caffeine and tea are problematic signs. You also avoid confrontation. This creates a mesh of thoughts inside your head. You feel powerless over your life and instead of finding the cause of this negativity; numb yourself to the discomfort and call it pain.
This is a bit different from avoidance though both share similarities.We avoid our feelings when we know about them. We escape from them when we don’t know what is stuffed inside the bottle and we’re scared of opening it. Avoidance has realization, escapism doesn’t. Mindless scrolling, binging TV, oversleeping, binging over a show that we don’t even know why we’re watching, non-stop video games, etc are a few commonly known forms of it. There are other non-visible ways to run away from what you feel. These include vaguely joking around, unwanted sexual arousal, no eye contacts with people and a forever feeling of fatigue (tiredness).
Do you rarely yell or cry but out of nowhere a very small issue can make you erupt? These are called triggers. Something that wouldn’t bug us normally, can cause us to outburst. We become sensitive to the smallest things happening around. Even a very minor inconvenience or issue can cause sudden boiling, overwhelming anger or breaking down into tears for no reason at all. These are signs of deeper, suppressed troubles.
Do you feel like the glue holding your family together, or holding your friends together? Do you watch your life from a 3rd perspective rather than being present in it? Do you find yourself observing the fun around but never actually being a part of it? These are feelings of self-detachment and lead to existential crisis. Not being able to feel things in the moment is a rather common symptom yet again for someone who bottles up their emotions. Since we refuse to feel the negative emotions, with time our body adapts itself to not let us feel positive ones either. Not wanting to feel pain ensures we’re teaching the body to not feel happiness as well. Which can often lead us into a deep hole we’ve dug for ourselves where all we can do is sit and stare.
Since our own emotions are a personal stigma to us, we associate the feeling of resentment and irritability towards someone else’s emotions as well. This includes but is not limited to being uncomfortable around emotional people, viewing crying, screaming and other forms of venting as a sign of weakness or emotional instability.
The constant thing that is hurting you on the inside, the choked feeling in the throat, no you weren’t born with it, you’re not mean to be living with it for the rest of your life. It is just the walls of your bottle telling you that the pressure inside is immense and you need to pay attention to release it at the earliest. We need to understand that “not wanting” to handle/face our emotional self will gradually change into “not being able to” handle them. Feelings do not have a snooze button.