Does avoidance really make it better? Or does it leave a mental mess?
Time, they say, heals all wounds. While I’m not convinced of this, I’m sure there are many people who take comfort in the thought that the passage of time is some sort of healer. Perhaps for some it is. I can see it being helpful when the tides of life are high and things before one make it seem impossible to cope with one’s mental mess.
With that said, from my perspective, it’s not time in itself that makes our darkest moments in life lighter. Rather, it’s what we do in a given period of time that can help facilitate the healing process. Is remaining idle really the best way to move past pain? Or, is this the equivalent to burying it somewhere deep down?
I have always been a take-action kind of guy. I ask myself what I feel to be the most fundamentally-important question: what do I have to do to fix this? In my view, avoidance is not a coping tool.
We modern humans don’t like to feel uncomfortable. Slightly cold? Turn the heat up. Have a bead of sweat on your brow? Blast the A/C. Feel a twinge of mental pain? Avoid, avoid, avoid. Some will do whatever they must to wiggle their way around talking about things that remain hidden and thus unresolved.
I’m inclined to believe that ignoring it has the potential to be devastating.
While opening up about how own feels is undoubtedly very difficult and can elicit very strong emotional feelings, I have difficulties thinking of things in life that aren’t more difficult initially before they get better. Life is messy, and any attempts to clean it up and make it better are always meet with a large challenge in the beginning. Just like the last time you cleaned up that pantry you’ve been avoiding for months. What did that feel like at first? Overwhelming, right?
Despite feeling like an ocean wave is heading right for you, you understand that this task must be done; it’s driving you up the wall. But, as you tackle the clutter, do you feel worse or is the angst beginning to lift?
I’m willing to wager that the anxiety you feel is starting to dissipate as you can see that this tiny fraction of your life’s problems is starting to become less and less chaotic. By the end of it you always feel better and are glad you dealt with it.
So, what’s this got to do with how one deals with their emotional self? Well, let’s replace the challenge of the pantry with the difficulties of mental illness. When one first comes face-to-face with a diagnosed mental-health condition; how do they feel? For me, I was very overwhelmed – it was as though a giant wave was washing over me, I had no place to run. I had two choices: deal with it or ignore it. Would ignoring my diagnoses have been wise? What happens when people do?
Since you are here, check out Post Traumatic Stress Tested In Real Time
I feel that ignoring symptoms makes life difficult. If one has depression for example, calling in sick all the time because it’s just too much is not solving the depressive episodes. Rather, it’s putting your living at risk. So in this instance, is not dealing really working? Considering the consequences of pretending you’re okay can be dire. In fact, I’m inclined to believe that ignoring it has the potential to be devastating.
I will leave you with this: if you deal with what is slowly dismantling your life, you will see a reduction in the overwhelming anxiety that comes with simply living with the mess. If you work on your turmoil, will you see a gradual reduction in symptoms? When you have gotten it straightened out, will you feel a sense of accomplishment or will it feel worse? Of course, it’s for you to decide but I do know that you’ll never know unless you confront your mental mess.