themighty logo

The Importance of Processing the Emotions Caused by Illness


Feelings. So many feelings. I am certain there are emotions building up within me because I feel something: I’m just not sure what I’m feeling. I don’t know if I’m angry or sad or any of the other emotions I can’t put a name to.

I have been dealing with my chronic disorders for 13 years, so it’s something I’m well-accustomed to. I’ve managed to accept it as my “new” normal, so generally I’m relatively unfazed by it. Unfazed, in this case, meaning I don’t get too emotional when I have flare-ups or when I remember how much my diseases have taken from me. I don’t know if I’d disconnected from my feelings or if I’d just stopped feeling anything in relation to my condition.

However, recently I’ve been through a patch I have struggled to understand. I’m at a point wherein I am suddenly angry and frustrated and disappointed all the time. I can’t think about anything else. I don’t even know all the emotions I’m feeling. I know why I’m feeling what I am: it’s been set off by a particularly difficult medical patch. The sudden influx of overwhelming emotions has suddenly left me feeling lost and confused.

Am I wrong to be feeling what I am? What changed? How do I deal with emotions that I’ve never had to process before? Where do I begin to break down what I’m feeling?

While life may seem easier when emotions are left out of the mix, they’re not something we can avoid forever. They will catch up with us, no matter how OK we think we are. It’s not a bad thing. Emotions can be scary, but only if we choose to run from them. They need to be embraced and dealt with. It’s time to start facing the monsters in your closet.

Processing emotions is simple in theory, but much harder in practice. It’s also something that gets easier with practice. Oscar Wilde wrote in “The Picture of Dorian Gray,” “I don’t want to be at the mercy of my emotions. I want to use them, to enjoy them, and to dominate them.” We need to learn how not to be at the mercy of our emotions. We need to get better at identifying emotions. Perhaps if I knew how to untangle the mess I’m feeling, I’d know where to start in deciphering it. But identifying emotions alone isn’t enough. We need to take it a step further. We need to process them. Everyone does this in their own way: it may be through talking about it or writing about it or any other form of release. Regardless, they need to be processed. It must be understood. Why are we feeling that emotion? Is there something we can do to ease the cause? If not, what do we do about it?

I don’t think anyone has really discovered the secret to mastering emotions, but there are certainly lots of people who have tried. There are certainly many people who have lots of experience in helping others deal with their emotions. Spend some time tackling your emotions. It will make your life a lot easier.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Thinkstock photo via Delpixart.