Sunshine through the rain

I’ve been crying a lot lately. So much that I even caught myself crying on camera. But the shocking thing to me is not that I cried. It’s that I allowed the camera to keep rolling, then posted it online. I pushed myself so far out of my comfort zone that I showed my vulnerability, my emotions, to any stranger who cared to watch.

You see, there was a time when I went years without shedding a single tear. Throughout my teens until I was 21, I became extremely successful at blocking my emotions through bingeing, with a side of alcohol. So successful at burying all my pain that I ended up with my first episode of depression in my final year of university.

Even then, when I had learned that crying was a necessary evil, it was done in private and as little as possible. It was something I struggled to do, something I continued to avoid, something I swallowed down. Because crying was a weakness, a vulnerability. If I showed I was weak, that gave others power. And that was something I could never allow.

But over the last few weeks, I’ve noticed how often I’ve laughed. Over the tiniest things: social media posts, puns, something a friend said, even physical comedy, which I never found funny before. I’ve noticed how I have felt happiness, joy, as easily as sadness, anger, and pain.

Then I realised. In blocking out my sadness, negative emotions, and vulnerability, I’ve also blocked out happiness, positive emotions, and sensitivity. I didn’t allow myself to be sad, but doing that meant that I didn’t allow myself to be happy either. By not crying, I missed out on laughter.

Don’t get me wrong. There have been times when dulling those negative emotions has been necessary to keep me alive. I’m not ashamed of taking antidepressants when I had suicidal thoughts. They helped me stay alive, they helped me through the pain of therapy and early stages of recovery from BED. There are times when feeling those negative emotions is a very bad idea.

But at some point in recovery from BED it’s important to learn to accept and live with emotions. And I wanted to share that when that happened for me, it gave me the freedom to enjoy those good emotions, too. Bright lights of joy shining on tears of sadness: a wonderful, miraculous emotional rainbow. I’m hoping for a pot of contentment at its end…

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