03.31.12 Wellness

Problems with Pain: Learning to Deal with Mental Health Issues

Problems with Pain: Learning to Deal with Mental Health Issues

BY Leah Ly

When I was first asked to write this article, I had no idea how to articulate my thoughts into words for others to see. I had always found my words to be private. However, in recent events, I have found that my words may not need to be known, but I want them to be available for others. All my life, the words of others have affected my own. Now, I only hope to become a link on a chain of effects that will lead to the sharing of more words.

I have been depressed for the majority of my life. For the most part, I never knew what to do about it, so I tried not to feel the pain it left me with. I tried to ignore it. I have a lot of experience with pain of all kinds, despite my youth (I’m nineteen. Wanna fight about it? You cannot discredit my insight due to my length of time on this earth). Pain has always been something I so desperately wanted to forget. However, after a night of worrying about my roommate’s well-being and a few hours finishing John Green’s new book (The Fault in Our Stars is the title, if you are interested. All of his books are fantastic!), I finally realized what I had always known: pain demands to be felt.

The mind tries to protect itself from the pain you feel. We try so hard to escape or avoid pain, but it is there demanding for you to notice it, like you demand to be noticed. It is hard and it will hurt. But don’t we all wish to live in a world where the stronger our pain is, the more it is worth? I know I do. It is worth something, at least to me. It means I’m fighting.

Don’t let anyone tell you what to do or how to feel. If your pain is demanding to be felt, feel it. One day you won’t feel anything anymore, and maybe that is what you think you want right now. But in truth, you demand to be noticed just as much as your pain does. Feel it, and realize that maybe you need a little guidance in lessening its intensity and frequency. You want better mental and emotional health? Go get it!

My years of battling depression left me with pain that I thought I could never live through. So instead of feeling it, I tried to hide it or distract myself from it. That led me to a very destructive first year of college. If I had realized that I should have just felt my pain before proceeding with my actions, I probably would have broken less hearts, had my heart broken less and have a higher GPA. I wouldn’t have spent my days not going to class crying and sleeping. I would have tried harder to lessen the pain I was feeling. Now, I realize that I cannot waste my time saying things that aren’t true.

It is true that you are not alone. It is also true that it gets better, if you let it. It’s true someone cares, because I do. I feel that pain, too. I know it hurts, demanding you to feel it. But, without pain how will we know joy? You will know joy when you allow yourself to do so. Stay strong, because maybe someone needs you.

At my worst, I was in bed almost every hour of the day. I didn’t have the energy to act on the self-destructive thoughts I had. I knew that if I went too far, I wouldn’t care at all. But I knew I needed help because I was feeling my pain for once instead of avoiding it. Now, I’m in treatment to get rid of this depression. I know that some people live with it forever; I spent the majority of my life living with it until I asked for help. I have hope, however, that soon the pain that demands to be felt, will be less frequent.

Without feeling my pain, I would never have known the amazing feeling of being in love. I would not be as grateful for the love I feel if it were not for feeling pain. I would just chalk it up to a different kind of happiness, nothing too different from what I feel all the time in my painless existence. This is why pain exists. It lets you know you are alive and that you have so many things that feel so much better in comparison – things you can’t even imagine.

It is all out there in front of you waiting. You just have to go get it and when you realize how good it all is, that pain seems worth feeling if it means that this good feeling will always feel this good. No one can tell you how to feel, I am simply asking that you do – that you feel.

I guess I am just trying so desperately to say that in life there is pain, and like any other emotion, you should feel it. It deserves your attention. You might not think so, but it wants to be alive and be noticed as much as any human being. Your pain is worth something because you are worth something. We all feel pain, so do not ever think you are as alone as you feel. When you feel alone, think of all the pain you are feeling at the same time as others. Pain is just a side effect. Not of a disease or of some tragic incident, but it is the side effect of human consciousness. It is beautiful in the same way that the miracle of life is beautiful. That may sound like a load of crap, but I’m not saying that it’s all sunshine once you feel your pain. You will always feel pain, no matter how hard you try to stop it. However, it makes way for other emotions that are demanding your attention as well. That is life. That is what it means to be a part of the human experience. Take it or leave it.

So go and feel. Anything. Just as long as you feel something. Feelings are like people – they just want to be noticed sometimes.

Image:   Laszlo Folgerts

Leah Ly is a college student living in New Jersey.  She spends most of her free time reading, writing, watching movies, and being too introspective. She also spends far too much time on the internet and playing ukulele for strangers. You can find her on tumblr at http://ohleahdarling.tumblr.com.


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