From Emotional Health to Mental Healing

“I don’t understand why we don’t consider emotional health as important as mental health!” Maggie would say to me.  “Honestly, it is just as important – if not more so.  If people were able to talk about their emotions they would perhaps be less inclined to experience better mental health.  Don’t you think?  When I ask you how you feeling, what would you say?”

“I’d say I feel fine.” I replied.

“There you go.  Fine is not an emotion.”

Right.  Fine is not an emotion.  So, how did I feel?  What are the words from which I could draw:  happy, sad, angry, depressed, anxious… I felt none of those.  At least, I didn’t think I felt any of those.  So seriously how did I feel?

“How are you?”  So often we ask one another this exact question.  And what is the reply? Fine?  Not bad.  I’ve been better.  And do we listen for the response?  I’ve come to think that how are you is really code for hey – I acknowledge you are here, but I really have to go.

What would happen if someone really gave a true answer?  “I’m sad.”  If they answered, that would require the person who asked the question to stop and engage in a conversation.  And that isn’t always the desired outcome when one is rushing off to work, or rushing to get home to cook dinner, or when one is exhausted from running around doing errands.

Furthermore, how would we handle the answer if it came at us?  “I’m sad.”  Then what?  I think the inevitable response would be, “why?” And if that came – then hold onto your hat for the story.

It seems to me then – we ought not to ask the question if one is not prepared for the answer.

Or maybe when asked the question, the response ought to be, “Do you really want to know?”.  That may just seem like an odd response though.  It could be considered highly indignant, almost rude, like you are insinuating that the person who asked didn’t really care.  That may be true – but how rude to challenge one’s integrity.

Ask me how I am.  Go ahead.  I’ll tell you.  I am frightened.  Yes.  That is an emotion.  I am lost.  No that’s not an emotion – but I feel that way.  I guess the reason I am frightened is because I am lost.  I sometimes feel that I have no direction, no purpose.  I don’t know what tomorrow will hold.  None of us do – but it seems cancer sharpens the word tomorrow to cut just a bit deeper into the darkness of the unknown.  Make plans for next year?  Ha!  I cannot.  I guess that’s what older people mean when they speak about tomorrow, next week, or next year with such uncertainty. I’m frightened I have lost my purpose.  Yes, my son still needs me to be around for him.  He needs to be loved, hugged, cuddled, and cooked for. The other two – well – they have found lives of their own.  I know they love me, as does my husband, but they don’t need me.  I’m a Mom – but the meaning has changed.  I’m a wife – but the meaning has changed.  I am not a teacher – at least not a classroom teacher.  I am not a daughter.  I am not many things.  Yeah – I’m frightened and a bit sad.  I think that’s part of cancer . There are many losses and grieving those losses is translated in so many ways.

Ask me how I am.  I am thankful.  No, that’s not an emotion.  Being thankful makes me feel joy.  Yes.  I am also happy.  I am glad.  I have so much to be thankful for and focusing on that makes me happy.  I guess this is a choice – to think about what I have to be thankful for.  My Dad always said, “remember the good times, Stacey and count your blessings.”  He smiled a lot in his golden years.  So – being happy is a choice?

Cancer.  The word is hotbed of emotions – most bad ones.  It calls us to take arm against an enemy (fear?), the fight a good fight (rage?), to think of the future (anticipation?), and maybe it calls us to be thankful (joy?).  And that’s just the beginning.  How many other words can evoke so many emotions.  I guess any chronic illness would do the same.

What happens, though, when we lock our emotions inside us?  What happens if we don’t talk about how we are feeling?  To not express joy, anger, fear… is to deny ourselves of our own humanity.  To stuff emotions causes stress and anxiety – leading to mental health issues.  Can we be poisoned by our own emotions?  We all need to be able to express how we are feeling.  And equally important, we all need to have someone who will not only ask the question, “How are you?”, but will also listen for the answer.  Maggie would call this person a “loving listener”.  We don’t need to solve the emotion. There is nothing to solve.  We don’t need to offer solutions, simply empower the person to find their own solutions.

Three words:  how are you

They are the key that could unleash the power of emotional health which could very well lead to emotional health and good mental healing.

If someone were to ask you, “How are you feeling today?” what / how would you answer?

About inmycorner

This blog began as an opportunity to tell my Dad's stories. I sat with him and the computer and together we told stories. It was a wonderful way to get to know Dad. He was 9. He and Mom had a wonderful life together and since she passed away a year and a half before him - Dad was ready to join her. I no longer tell his stories but have found stories of my own. The impetus to resume this blog was the discovery that I had stage 4 ovarian cancer. Since blogging had been so therapeutic for my dad and I to get through our grief, I felt maybe this would be a good outlet to process my situation. I also hoped it may serve as an outreach to anyone else who is facing this very ominous journey. So far, so good.
This entry was posted in mental health, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

14 Responses to From Emotional Health to Mental Healing

  1. AnnaAneetaClement says:

    Emotional health is an aspect of mental health , it’s not only IQ widely known as Intelligence Quotient which moves life but also Emotional Quotient which makes someone a good wife , soulmate, a best friend .I am so glad to see a write up based upon a content which I was longing to read from someone else’s perspective ☺

    • AnnaAneetaClement says:

      And if someone asks me how are you ? I will choose a synonymous word which clearly depicts how I feel inside, this write up is reframing a thought 😊 Thank You Stacey ☺

      • inmycorner says:

        Oh – thrilled that we are continuing to think about the language of emotions. First step is learning the vocabulary. Good for you! You are welcome. I feel joyous! grin

      • AnnaAneetaClement says:

        I will blissfully look forward to learn anything which makes things better as well as create an emotional binding 😇

    • inmycorner says:

      So very true,AnnaAneeta! Love the notion of an emotional quotient (EQ). Love also the work of Daniel Goleman. How did you come to understand about emotional intelligence – a subject that is so terribly misunderstood / neglected?

      • AnnaAneetaClement says:

        The word emotional intelligence actually attracted me during my student life , we also have some psychological test which measures the emotional intelligence and it’s constructs such as Self-awareness, self-regulation, social skill, empathy, motivation. There statistical surveys studies which significantly confers that how expressed emotion of a family member affects the prognosis of an Ill being .

  2. AnnaAneetaClement says:

    Yes , widely misunderstood or as you mentioned neglected may be much more straight point .I am aware as I have learned about it, as my core subject in master’s was psychology .We also have some journals which provide significant results which states how expressed emotion such as Overinvolvement, Hostility, Critical comments really affects the prognosis of an Ill being and the positive emotions such as positive comments , warmth, positive regard .You can go through the journal “Indian Journal Of Psycho’logical Medicine ” by Medknow Publications”.To make it short and sweet you can also search a video titled “Two Robots were created to do nothing but feel emotion.Now watch them fall in love” which was uploaded the YouTube channel Omeleto ☺.I am sure that you will like it .

  3. I don’t know that I could ever answer with a one word answer. Seldom am I ever feeling
    “A” feeling. Even when I am overwhelmingly one thing, other things are still there. When my father died I was predictably sad, but that isn’t to say I wasn’t feeling happy for what I had, and shocked, and grateful, and so many other things. I hope that makes sense.

    • inmycorner says:

      Absolutely – I wonder if some of the problem associated with expressing our emotions is that they are difficult to unravel – to identify in isolation? That would make a lot of sense to me. We are rather complicated creatures, oui?

      • We are indeed. And I learned as an adult, that many of us can’t actually separate and identify feelings. Often times using “angry” instead of “frustrated” or vice versa. I think we have a very wide range of emotions we don’t exactly know how to pinpoint.

    • inmycorner says:

      Makes me wonder if we are really prepared to speak to the question, “how are you”? And if the question itself ought to be different?

  4. Judy says:

    I think that when people say, “How are you?” they are really wanting to say, “Hope all is well with you.” You’re right – there usually isn’t time to discuss the truth, unless you’re with a good friend sharing feelings over a meal.
    I love your post. Feelings are very complicated. I can’t imagine all the emotions you have surrounding cancer. I understand how focusing on being grateful would uplift you, but you are only human to feel anger and rage at the disease that has robbed you of so much.
    What I’ve learned, after many years of not allowing my feelings to come out, is that expressing myself is the path to true joy. Without pain, there can be no joy.
    Perhaps we can’t answer the truth when someone asks us casually, but we can still allow and acknowledge our feelings.

  5. karen markovic says:

    For me mental health means staying as far away from mental cases as possible…..if you know what I mean! On my healing journey I am trying to surround myself with as much peace as possible…..everything that gives me internal tranquility…, horses, flowers, water, things I love! I don’t want to be involved with soap operas and drama! What bothers me a lot is lately I have come across people who have stated to me that they have mental disorders….anxiety and depression…..yet when I speak to them there is absolute nothing really wrong with them, they maybe perhaps have gone thru some emotionally trying times, illness, death, etc…..but that’s the label that has been given to them….I find it so bizarre. Life at certain moments can be stressful and exhausting…. I strongly feel anxiety is not a mental disorder! And it upsets me greatly that stamp is so freely stuck on people. Just be you…just be real! That’s the key!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s