ALL FEELINGS ARE VALID

We all experience life with different perceptions. We go through life’s struggles and each person’s journey is different. What may seem like a minor bad point in a person’s life may seem like a major one in another person’s life. Someone may feel sad about a situation, while another person may feel happy. No person on earth experiences life the same or feels the same emotions as another. Everyone’s feelings are valid even if we don’t feel the same or understand them.

Feelings are a tricky thing especially when it comes to mental illness. It is so hard to understand why a person with a good life could fall deep into sadness. It’s even more difficult to understand how a person could feel so hopeless and depressed that he or she would want to commit suicide.

A friend’s aunt came in my line at work. I told her that her nephew was really struggling with depression.

She looked at me and said, “What does he have to be depressed about?”

I was taken back by her response. It was like she couldn’t understand her nephew’s feelings of sadness. This happens a lot to people with mental illness. Many don’t understand those struggling and they shrug them off like their feelings are not important, when they are very important.

After my mastectomy I struggled with grief for the loss of my breasts. Many of my friends told me that I didn’t need them anyway and I should be happy they were gone. Some said they were envious of me and would love to get rid of theirs. I felt like they didn’t validate my feelings of grief and depression.  This made me feel even worse. It’s like my loss was a joke to them, and it wasn’t. I lost a part of my body, a part that made me a woman, and yes at times I wished I didn’t have them, but when it came to having them removed, it was like a piece of me was stolen from me. The hardest battle for me with breast cancer was dealing with my loss, and having friends who didn’t take my grief seriously made me feel even worse.

This has happened with my mental illness too. I had lived two years in recovery from mental illness. I had friends, I was living in an apartment with a friend, and I had a boyfriend. Then suddenly I fell down that hole of depression. I felt hopeless, depressed, useless, and worthless. Some people didn’t take my feelings seriously. It didn’t make sense to them that I would feel those emotions when it seemed like I had a good life. To them I had no reason to feel bad. This made me feel even more alone. The more my feelings were not taken seriously, the worse my depression got.

     Years after I recovered from mental illness, I went to a friend’s house for a dinner. There was a group of us. They talked about a girl we all knew. The girl got upset and locked herself in the bathroom during a party. The girl told them her life was hopeless and she felt like she had nothing to live for. The group of girls who told me about it said that she was doing it for attention. They didn’t take her feelings seriously. They thought she was a joke when she was crying for help. To the girl her feelings were real and very overpowering. By locking herself in the bathroom and telling the group her feelings she was begging for help, and they didn’t listen. By not validating her feelings and noticing her call for help they made her feel more depressed, and she injured herself.

When I was in school there was a girl who kept talking about taking her life. I knew nothing about mental illness or that I was suffering with it. I thought she was telling us that for attention. She told me she was sad, and I thought she was a spoiled child craving attention. The teachers at my school never took her cries for help and feelings seriously either. She never got the help she needed because no one would listen to her or validate her feelings. I found out many years later she struggled with mental illness and was never able to get the proper help she needed. She has been living in an inner hell since she was a kid and it led to a very rough life.

     Everyone’s feelings are real and valid even if we don’t understand them or find a good reason for them. With mental illness the darkness, the feeling of hopelessness, the worthlessness, and inner anguish is very real. Not recognizing the person’s feelings and letting him or her know you acknowledge how they feel can be detrimental. It can lead a person deeper into his or her mental illness and can lead to suicide attempts or suicide.

When a person turns to you and tells you he or she is feeling depressed, that person is confiding in you and asking for help. Say you’re there for him or her, suggest he or she gets help, and listen to him or her. Don’t brush the person off or ask them, “What do you have to be depressed about?” Never assume the person is just trying to get attention. Don’t turn that person in to a joke you can talk about with your friends. Those feelings the person has been struggling with are very real, and if he or she is telling you about them then it is to ask you for help. Don’t ignore him or her. Validate his or her feelings.

Many years ago, when I confided in my mom my feelings, she went out of her way to get me help. Because people who care about me, friends, and family, validated my feelings, I got help and I dance in the light of recovery.

4 thoughts on “ALL FEELINGS ARE VALID

  1. Aimee, this needs to be shouted from the mountain tops! When I was young I was very sensitive to the moods and attitudes of those around me. I saw too many people unwilling to acknowledge the validity of those feelings… Not out of spite or meanness but that they had no point of reference and no personal experience. As an adult, I know how devastating that kind of attitude can be. Education is the first step to understanding, that leads to compassion and empathy!

    Like

    • Murisopsis,
      You’re so right, education is the best way to tell people that all feelings are valid even if we don’t understand them. To many times people hurt themselves or commit suicide because they feel like no one takes their feelings seriously. Everyone’s feelings are important. Thank you for reading and commenting.
      Aimee

      Like

  2. Hi Aimee,
    Thank you for continuously educating your readers. This was an excellent post and a great reminder to people to listen, something we do not do nearly enough.
    Amy

    Like

    • Amy,
      Yes it is very important to listen to everyone even those without mental illness. Feelings are important and we should always listen to those who want to share their feelings. Even your feelings about your situation are important.
      Thanks for reading.
      Aimee

      Like

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