Since my mood episode has passed, we’re back working on grief issues. Specifically, we’re working with my sister’s death. I asked the therapist if she found this repetitive, as we do keep returning time and again to this one loss, but she said we deal with another aspect of it every time we discuss it. This time, we’re dealing with the extremes.
I have a tendency to bottle emotions (gasp from crowd). As it turns out, merely intellectualising my feelings or stating them as fact does not count as actually expressing them and processing. My therapist told me that I’m merely doing circles about them and will have to open them up in order to heal them. Then, we discussed obstacles to that.
Obstacle one is easy to understand: culture. The stereotypical English stiff upper lip isn’t as stereotypical as some might think. I’m not accustomed to overly emotional displays. I’m more accustomed to the quick acknowledgement and subsequent containing of strong feelings. This is separate from abuse issues or any kind of disorder. This is simply culture. Overcoming it is probably a question of pride and modesty.
Obstacle two *is* the trauma issues. I grew up in a cult where people were literally killed for showing emotion sometimes. Funnily enough, I have trouble with that now. Then, Dr Freud, there’s the abuse my mother handed down. On the day of my sister’s funeral, she was kind enough to remind me that, since it wasn’t my daughter, I had no right to be upset. When I was a child, she taunted or hit my sister and me for showing emotion. Again, small reason I have trouble with that. Overcoming this is my biggest challenge. No idea where to start.
Obstacle three is something I’d never considered: bipolar disorder. My therapist pointed out that, given bipolar disorder is a condition of extremes, we spend some time attempting to keep me from giving in to strong emotions. My emotions can’t always be trusted; some result from psychosis or other bipolar symptoms. To overcome this, I guess we’ll just have to be overly cautious about the pace at which we attack the pesky little emotions.
There’s a danger in opening this box. Sometimes, I follow down the path of wanting to be with my sister and follow her lead. I don’t think that is a problem now, though, as I seem to have got a decent amount of control over the suicidal feelings. Self-injury is the more likely problem, but I’ll deal with that when/if it happens. It’s time, regardless of how much my mind fights against it, to at least begin the raw work of true mourning.