Neurodiversity Awareness/Appreciation

Neurodiversity Awareness/Appreciation

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

What We Feel

Wednesday is always a therapeutic day for me. I have one hour of 1:1 therapy, and then two hours of DBT group. It is still helping me a lot. It is actually alarming how much it helps me... it is like someone has finally let me in on a secret that can give me a little bit of relief!

Today in group, the therapist was talking about how emotions come with physical feelings, and that the physical feeling is how you know what emotion you're feeling. So for instance, when you feel anxious, you might have a tight chest, heart beating hard, sick feeling in your stomach, etc. The therapist said that if you didn't feel the physical feeling, the emotion wouldn't exist... because, without the physical feeling of the emotion, all you would have is a neutral thought.

This piqued my interest, because I have often talked about the worst part of depression and anxiety being the physical feelings. The physical feelings that come with my emotions seem to be stronger than what most people experience... at least, according to the people I've talked to.  I have compared them to having flu-like symptoms. My skin starts to feel like it's burning, I feel nauseous, dizzy, can't eat, and sometimes I even get a fever.

I asked, "So does that mean, if you had no nerves at all and couldn't feel any physical feelings, you wouldn't have emotions?" (I know, I ask weird questions!)

The therapist replied that it would be hard for a person with no nerves to know what emotions they were feeling.

That is a little mind-bending to me. It is like the "If a tree fell in the forest and there was nobody around to hear it" riddle. If a person was unable to physically feel the physical feelings that came with emotions, would his emotions still exist? Whoooooooaaaaaa.

We talked about letting yourself feel your feelings, without necessarily reacting to them. For instance, lets say usually when you get angry at someone you usually punch them in the face. If you're trying to work on not punching people, then the next time you get angry, you could instead just let yourself experience the angry emotion. You could even let yourself experience the urge to punch someone in the face. But you could learn not to actually react to it. You could think, "I feel an urge to punch this guy in the face," and then just stand there and think it without actually doing it. (This also ties in with the Wise Mind skill we've been learning. Wise Mind means not just thinking with pure logic, and not with pure emotion, but with a wise mixture of both. It is recommended that when you try to make a decision, you should be sure that you are in Wise Mind first... and this sometimes means waiting until the emotion you feel is less intense. So, in this case, you could say, "Okay. I am going to go outside and take a walk, and call a friend, and have a snack, and after I am feeling calmer, if I still want to punch this guy in the face, I will come back and punch him in the face."

So when I am feeling sad or anxious, a good thing to do is just think about the physical feeling, and let it be there without judging it as a good or bad feeling... and then letting it go away when it is ready. (It is really easy to talk about, but lets see if I can actually do it!)

In 1:1 therapy, meanwhile, we talked about a safety plan for if I start to feel extremely depressed. I have 8 steps I can take.

1. Grounding. (Not like being in trouble and being sent to your room grounding! Grounding, like, centering yourself.) I can do it by naming things I see, hear and smell (like in yesterday's blog post), thinking about a thought train, and checking the facts of the situation I am sad about.

2. Pet my dog or Roo or Odie or Black Cat.

3. Look at a picture of my mom.

4. Color in my calming down coloring book.

5. Watch a movie or TV show.

6. Call the crisis line.

7. Tell my aunt.

8. Call my therapist.

(The reason my aunt is so way down on the list is because I wouldn't want to make her get worried.)

 So... tomorrow I have an actual subbing job... as a teacher, not an assistant! This will be a good chance for me to practice managing my anxiety!

I will let you know how it goes.

In the mean time, I have to start cleaning my room because our friends are coming over for dinner tomorrow!


  1. You know, we say emotions are how we "feel" but I rarely think of them in such physical terms. It makes a lot of sense.

  2. Good luck with your subbing job tomorrow (today?)

  3. This was very interesting! If everyone had the benefit of the "think before you act" counseling, there's be no road rage or regrettable impulse acts of assault. I've had the urge to smack someone before too! Just never followed through!
    Best wishes on your subbing job! I know you'll do really well!

  4. Temperament influences my stress responses greatly. Being choleric, I am quick to anger. It helps me to grip something if I feel like hurting someone. It's my foothold on rationality. If someone tells me to release, I will keep my grip and tell them that I will hurt someone if I do so. When I get to the point that I can go somewhere without hurting someone, I will go. One of my key supine traits is responsiveness to my environment, so, sometimes, I just need a change of scenery to regulate and recharge my lagging energy reserves.

  5. I hope your subbing job went well. I also hope you remember me since I vanished from the blogging world for the past year. I really like your steps to combat depression. I think having things to do to distract yourself and calm yourself down are so important!

  6. That makes logical sense, though; depression, for instance, robs many people of their appetite. So interesting to think about.

  7. INCREDIBLE. You are learning these things so young, woman.
    Much of what you wrote here was either a revelation NOW, or in the last five years or so since my son was diagnosed and then me.
    That's when I started to be able to read stuff about being on the spectrum and relate it to me, like, oh: feelings have feelings?????????????
    Thanks and love,


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