Don’t Let the Feelings Choke You

If you are a regular reader of my blog, you know that I have a long, disturbing history with Bipolar Disorder. Through countless hours of therapy, endless cocktails of psychotropic medications, measureless pools of tears, and unfathomable depths of darkness for more than a decade of my life, I somehow found my way to the other side, to a brighter life, to the life I had always wished for. And through this process not only have I discovered myself, but I also learned some very effective coping skills. Being proud of myself for how far I have come in the healing process, I like to share what I have learned in the hopes that it can help make someone else’s life a little easier.

*This post is a collaboration called All Choked Up initiated by Sheela of Sheela Writes and including Eve of The World According to Eve, Debbie of Fashion Fairy Dust, Lisa of The Sequinist, and of course, myself.

I am by no means naive in the world of mental illness. Quite the contrary, I am very well-versed…having lived it and then moved on to study it. I do know quite a bit about the struggle that is mental illness, but I also know quite a bit about the power that lies within each and every person to help themselves through the darkness. I think sometimes, however, we get so lost in the forest that we simply cannot see the tree of knowledge. So I am going to share some of the leaves from said tree…in essence, I am the student who has become the teacher.

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Please don’t think that I am so ignorant to believe that what has worked for me will work for everyone else. Every person has to travel their own path and our journeys are so very personal. But I do believe if something has worked for me that it may work for someone else. I also know that it is damn well worth a try! And if there is even the slightest glimmer of light at the end of the darkness, well then, that is all the hope you need.

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In recent weeks, I have found myself discussing this topic with a few different people and it struck me that I need to write about it. I know that I have mentioned in previous posts about the importance of “feeling the feels.” But I want to go deeper. Deeper into the power of feelings.

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Our emotions are like women and their hormones. They have power. Like a lot of power. And if we refuse to give a particular feeling its moment in time, its moment to be recognized, that feeling will become angry and vengeful. For real. Like a downright royal bitch to be exact. And it will perpetuate and grow in its anger. And then it will choke you. Figuratively and literally. Anyone who has ever had a panic attack has experienced the literal choking by an angry emotion ignored. So my tip is this…do not ignore your feelings. They don’t like it. And they are mean little buggers.

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So what do you do with this information? You do this…when you have a horrible, miserable, negative emotion set upon you like a thief in the night, let it in. Welcome it like a beautiful, disturbed, mysterious woman. But let it in with the knowledge that it is just visiting and while it may try to overstay its welcome like an unwanted guest, you have the power to ask it to leave. But not before you give it its moment. When an unwanted feeling comes knocking, open the door, welcome it, but draw your explicit boundaries with it as well. Let it know that it has as much time as it needs, but no longer. You will not play host to misery forever.

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And it kind of works like this…you feel totally depressed and self-deprecating. Feel it. Humor it. Wallow in it even. But all the while talk yourself through it. Yes, talk to yourself and to your emotions. Say things like, “Okay, I feel miserable right now and I am hating myself. So I’m going to sit and feel that way. But when I have felt this way in the past, I have always come back around to feeling better again. So go ahead, you miserable thoughts and feelings, and have your moment. Take your time. But know that you will not break me.” I swear this works!

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The same is true of anxiety and panic attacks. Recognizing them is 90% of the battle. Talk to the panic. Tell it that it’s okay to visit for a brief time, but then it must go. By allowing it to wash over you rather than resist it, you are essentially taking away all of its power. Once I learned how to do this…in the middle of an anxiety attack…the attacks became shorter and shorter in duration. Like minutes. This method worked in half the time as popping an anti-anxiety pill. And eventually, the panic just stopped. And the need for medication has ceased. I can’t even remember the last time I had an attack. Or taken a pill. It has been that long.

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Just to keep it real, I want to share this quick experience. A few weeks ago, I woke up in the morning feeling utterly worthless. I am no stranger to this feeling, for sure. In fact, I spent years living like this. Which in hindsight is a blessing because when it came upon me again a few weeks ago, I was able to recognize it. And in my head, I said, “Well, hello, old friend. I haven’t seen you in quite some time. And to be frank, that is okay because I don’t really like you. But if you must be here, then be here. But I know you will tire of me just as I will tire of you. And then you will be on your way again.”

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When I look back on the person I was ten years ago, this little visit from Worthlessness would have sent me into a weeks long episode of depression complete with a multitude of booze consumed and pills eaten…and oftentimes a visit to the hospital. But I am not that person. And I allowed Worthlessness to visit. And then it left…just like I knew it would…before I went to bed that very night. I suppose it got just as bored of me as I was of it. Because I would not give it the satisfaction of the fight that it came seeking. So, farewell, Worthlessness, until we meet again. And we will meet again. We always do. Because feelings always come back around. You just need to become more adept at handling them. And better at asking them to leave.

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Never give your emotions the power to choke you. Because they have that much power if you permit it. *(I am not a licensed a counselor. I speak only from personal experience. If you are in crisis, which is totally different, please call your local emergency number.)

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Outfit details:
Top: Target (I bought this a year or two ago).
Skirt: Cato Fashions Lace Maxi Skirt
Shoes: Kohl’s (These are from last year).
Bag: Old Navy (From last fall).
Choker and Bangle Bracelet: I have had both of these for about as long as I have had feelings.
Watch: Churchill Timber Watch.

Now let’s take a look at the fabulous bloggers who have collaborated with me in styling our chokers! Thank you to Sheela for arranging the whole thing!

While you are giving your emotions their moment in time, please stop by and give these gorgeous ladies their moment as well and check out their take on the choker.

Sheela (Sheela Writes) is ravishing in her teal maxi dress!

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And Eve (The World According to Eve) is all about the sass in her graphic tee and camo shirt.

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Debbie (Fashion Fairy Dust) is a supreme combination of sophisticated, chic, and total bad ass. I have a big ole blogger crush on her right now! (Just acknowledging my feelings!)

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While Debbie is badass, Lisa (The Sequinist) is all class. So stunning in black sequins.

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*This post may contain affiliate links which means I may earn a small commission if you click on these links and make purchases. It costs you nothing and supports my website. All opinions expressed are my own and are in no way influenced by any compensation that may be received. Thank you for your support.

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*Photo credit to my friend Amy, photo extraordinaire of 5 Memory Lane. Thank you, dear friend, for putting up with my crazy outfit photo sessions. You are always patient, and kind, and oh so brilliant!

Taking a breather on the edge,

Shelbee

Linking up with These Fabulous Link Ups Where I Link Up

Follow shelbeeontheedge@gmail.com:

I am a 40 something Army wife and stay-at-home mother of 2 boys and 2 cats named Dave and Frankie. I have a passion for helping other women feel fabulous in the midst of this crazy, beautiful life.

38 Responses

  1. Thank you!

  2. So accurate and eloquently stated Shelbee. I have a super bad habit of using anger to hide the real feelings…no, I’m not nasty angry girl on a regular basis. Typically I have trouble dealing with someone hurting me. I’ve always said it’s a true indication of how much I love someone based on the nastiness of my reaction if they hurt me. I can verbally destroy someone if I’m hurt enough. Believe me, I’m not bragging. It’s a heinous habit, but I developed it as a kid to protect myself. And while I recognize it for what it is, I still continue to do it. I handle other things pretty well, just not hurt. When my aunt passed away last month I wrote a post on how I allow myself a period of time to wallow in my sadness, but I always have a cutoff date. Otherwise, it is entirely possible it could drag me down.
    Now, on to the outfit and whatnot. I have a major obsession with butterflies (hence the two tattoos) so I’m dying over your choker. And I love the mix of black and white lace, it’s simply beautiful! And a blogger crush? Awww…I’m blushing! You should know that your blog, along with Sheela and Suzanne Carillo are at the top of my favorites list. I love to see what everyone is wearing and how they put things together, but I also like some meat to the post, something to read and think about and the three of you always deliver. So crushin’ right back at you beautiful!
    Debbie
    http://www.fashionfairydust.com

    • Oh my goodness, Debbie! A reciprocal blogger crush! Gah…I am beside myself!

      And I hear you on the ability to verbally destroy someone. Also, something I am not super proud of…but we call it a “dictionary bomb” in my house. It takes a lot to cross my line of what I will tolerate (I am very flexible, accommodating, and tolerant), but when someone does cross my line, it is pretty much over. And the dictionary bomb gets dropped and that is it. I have only done this about 5 or 6 times in my life, but it is quite effective for disposing of toxicity and surrounding myself with all the positive.

      I have also found cut off dates for misery to be super effective, too. We all have feelings and we all need to find the best ways to deal with them.

      On to my choker…although I have had this forever, my love for butterflies is only recent. My husband’s grandmother who passed away 2 years ago adored butterflies. And I sort of assumed this adoration after she passed away. It is my way, I think, of keeping her memory alive. She was a truly amazing women!

      My obsession is more with fairies. Thinking about this now, I find it is sort funny how you and I both obsess over certain winged creatures and live in fear and disgust of certain other winged creatures! Ha!

      Thanks so much for the touching comment!

      xoxo
      Shelbee

  3. So insightful and well-written. So happy for you that you are on this side of your illness. Thank you for your willingness to share. You really don’t know how many people you will help. And your outfit is quite adorable!

    • Thank you so much, Susan. I have this burning need to share my story in the hopes that it will help someone else. Because living your life in that kind of hell is not living at all. And I am forever grateful that I was able to find my way to the other side of this illness that I have to pay it forward!

      xoxo
      Shelbee

  4. Beautifully raw and real. Thank you Shelbee. I think it helps so much for others to know they are not alone in the struggle of self-doubt and especially worthlessness. Oh man, that one is ugly. P.S. outfit it cute too!

  5. Thank you, Shelbee, for being so open and honest with your story. I have personally experienced the many emotions you describe but on the other side as being the parent of a beautiful daughter who has struggled with bipolar disorder. She’s in a great place now as she recognizes the importance of needing and accepting help. You’re a reminder that there is hope!!!
    Vivian

    • Vivian, I am so glad that I could offer that reminder of hope. I think that is so important in this particular struggle to remember that there are people who love us and that the smallest glimmer of hope is sometimes all you need to just hang on. It is a very tough battle, but I know I am only stronger now because of it. I am so glad that your daughter is in a great place. Just keep reminding her of these things. Thank you so much for reading my little blog and sharing your story as well.

      xoxo
      Shelbee

  6. Thank you for sharing and for your realness. Like that outfit too!

  7. Andrea Nine

    Oh Shelbee, you are so HOT!! LOVE the black lace on you darling lady!!

    • Aw! Thanks so much, Andrea! That is such a great compliment! You should see this top when I wear it with my black leather pencil skirt! I will have to share it in a post one of these days.

      xoxo
      Shelbee

  8. What an informative post. I love the way you were able to explain a lot more in depth on dealing with your emotions and not letting your emotions deal with you. I love your black and white outfit too. Very flattering and beautiful on you. Thanks for sharing and hosting the link up as well.

  9. Mental illness is so hard to deal with and sometimes the meds just don’t help. I had depression which is nothing like bipolar I know, but when I got feed up with myself I set a time limit everyday to allow myself to wallow. When my time was up I wouldn’t allow myself to be depressed till the set time the next day. Of course I had years of therapy also.

    • I think we each need to find our own little tricks to deal with these struggles. And that sounds like it worked wonderfully for you. And yes, I always emphasize the importance of a neutral therapist to help get you through it all as well. They can also offer another perspective and other tricks to try until you find the one that best works for you. Thanks so much for reading and for sharing your story as well.

      xoxo
      Shelbee

  10. This was such a useful and clever post to anyone who has a difficult time processing overwhelming emotions, even if they aren’t bipolar or suffering from panic attacks. I’ve had a few panic attacks in my life and I think your strategies would have worked for me in dealing with them. I’m going to give them a try if I have one again, for sure!

    ‘Dictionary bomb’ is absolutely brilliant! I’m also guilty of verbal warfare if anyone crosses me.

    More superficially, I adore the darkness and lightness of the lace pieces you’re wearing, and I adore the darkness of the choker with the lightness of the butterfly on it. Such a lovely piece!

    xx, Lisa

    • Thank you so much, Lisa! I feel like I have an obligation to share my little secrets that I have learned on my long, dark journey. I so hope they can help anyone with their life struggles, mental illness or not. Living is difficult and any little tricks can be useful!

      And as brilliant as you may find the term “dictionary bomb”, I find the term “verbal warfare” equally brilliant! I guess this is just how we wordsmiths fight our battles!

      And thank you for the very lovely “superficial” compliment! This was a super fun outfit to style, for sure.

      xoxo
      Shelbee

  11. Thanks for linking up to Top of the World Style.

  12. Wow Shelbee! Don’t know where to start except to say thank you for sharing your strategies. This reminds me of the story (Native American I think?) where the elder says “inside me it feels like two wolves are fighting. one is good the other is bad.” A younger person asks “which wolf wins?” the elder replies “the one you feed”. And you’re refusing the feed “worthlessness” for long. You are more than just outfits!

    • I have heard that old story before, too, Julia. Thank you for reminding me of it! It is so great. And thank you so much for this comment! When I set out to start blogging, I never wanted to be just outfits. I wanted to share my experiences and have a little more depth, but I also wanted to show outfits (well, because I just love clothes and fashion!). So thank, thank you so very much for recognizing it! Have a lovely weekend!

      xoxo
      Shelbee

  13. Oh thanks for sharing this Shelbee, we never really know the person behind a blog, but you’ve shown a bit of yourself – well done! Great outfit as well ..xx

    • Jacqui, thank you so much! That was my intention when I started blogging…to share fun outfits and the real struggles of life. Just real stuff! Thank you so much for reading. Have a fabulous day!

      xoxo
      Shelbee

  14. You are fighter Shelbee. I like the way you fight your way to the sun. Thank you for sharing your way how to deal with bad negative emotions.

    Anna xoxo
    http://www.glamadventure.com

  15. Very insightful and I appreciate your honesty and vulnerability in sharing. You are a vision in this black and white lace look. I appreciate the dichotomy of why you selected it.

  16. First, your outfit. I think this is one of my favorites! I love the black sheer top with this white longer skirt and those sandals are sexy! In regard to your post, I suffer from anxiety and I have some days where I am unable to do much, other days were I feel fine. I know these types of problems can be hard to deal with, all one can do is their best!
    Have a great week friend
    Thanks for linking up with Turning heads tuesday
    jess xx
    http://www.elegantlydressedandstylish.com

    • Thank you so much, Jess, for such an honest comment to this post. Anxiety is no joke especially when it has a paralyzing effect. I actually just had a really bad day the other day where I totally suppressed my emotions and finally they came spewing out in very ugly anger and rage. I clearly did not take my own advice and needed to revisit my own post! I hope you were able to find something helpful in this post. I also am always amazed by how many people open up about their own struggles when I just pit mine out there for all the world to see. I find it heals me and often times helps to heal others as well. So, I just keep talking about it!

      xoxo
      Shelbee

  17. Some great advice here. Thanks for sharing, I’m sure it’s never easy to put it out there but it’s great to help others x #FridayFrivolity

    • It definitely feels good to help others, so I don’t mind putting it out there! Plus, I have reached a point in my life where I really just don’t care if people decide to judge me. Thanks so much for reading, Rebecca! Have a fabulous weekend.

      xoxo
      Shelbee

  18. I love the high contrast of your outfit and I want those shoes! I applaud the courage it has taken for you to deal with your mental illness and to share that experience on your blog. Thank you for adding your post to my Fine-Whatever link up.

    Rena
    http://www.finewhateverblog.com

    • Rena, thank you so much very much for this wonderful compliment! Ever since I have found my happy place in the healing process, I have always been determined to share it with others. I am so glad I found that outlet in blogging. Plus I get to share all of my outfits, too! Have a fabulous day!

      xoxo
      Shelbee

  19. Shelbee this look is so gorgeous on you. I love the mix of 2 laces and the choker!

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