Three weeks’ ago a thought rocked me as I lay on a trolley in the ‘Majors’ Department of Accident & Emergency where I’d been since 6am that morning. Incapable of lifting my own head and in searing cranial and neck pain, a young doctor desperately tried extracting blood from my elbow and inserting a canula into the back of my left hand for immediate IV pain relief. Both failed several times. In a panic of apology and my falling blood pressure – the probable cause of her distress – I heard myself say, “It doesn’t matter” and meant it. I really didn’t care. I meant that, too. Days of intense pain created this moment and I was frightened by my body’s message.
Inside an alarm went off warning me that “don’t care” is dangerous. My body might be fed up with the fight but my spirit brought me up short. It does matter. A response is important. Then the red stuff flowed into the vials and the pain relief directly into my vein and that moment was gone, but it’s imprint remains with me. I’ve been thinking about how it relates to life.
Feeling, even if it’s a ‘negative’ emotion such as anger can be very healthy, experiencing any emotion is an expression of what’s happening in your inner world and a prompt to do something about it and make changes. Even better to be in a place of gratitude, happiness and heartfelt harmony with family, life and all that is. But feeling NOTHING means everything has shut down and it’s the point where help is needed.
Causes of emotional numbness are many, some physical and some emotional, but I went to that place of ‘nothingness’ and it wasn’t good. Luckily, for me it was short-lived, although I did feel like an empty husk while taking the medication. It’s taken until now to really feel ‘normal’ again. And, yes, my ‘normal’ will probably be very different from yours, but it’s emotional and physical equilibrium, wherever we come on the scale.
If you’re in that empty place where nothing matters to you, I invite you to at least read the seven points below, taking from them whatever you can right now:
1. Give yourself permission to feel again and recognise your emotions as simply self-preserving signals from your subconscious. Expressing your feelings is healthy and emotions need an outlet. Cry if you feel sad and scream if you have to – best done ‘quietly’ into a pillow or alone in Nature or your car! Perhaps you’re afraid of opening the floodgates? Be brave.
2. What are your feelings telling you? Be kind to yourself and non-judgmental, especially with your negative emotions but don’t be afraid to explore their message. You’re feeling them for a reason – what is it?
3. The next step is to figure out why? Things seem much less daunting when they’re not whirling aimlessly in your mind. Write your hopes as well as your fears on a piece of paper or in a journal. You may be pleasantly surprised that, in reality, what you see written isn’t as challenging as you feared.
4. If you write down any questions you have about the changes you want you may find the answers come to you. Remember, often we’re only fearful of the unknown. Whatever your situation, planning how to improve it really is the first step to feeling better.
5. Take time to study what you have written. Everything on your list is achievable but which are most probable in the short term? Focus on those for now and leave the more ambitious ones on the back-burner for later. Control and influence what you can in the process and let go of the rest. Make a plan. What and who do you need to help you change your circumstances and your behavioural response to change?
6. Think about what really makes you feel happy and really matters to you and hold on to that. Perhaps you’re bored with your life and just need to do things differently? Make the most of the positive opportunities you have. Life is completely what you make it and reflects your thinking. Start focusing on the good in the world instead of worrying about what isn’t working and watch your life improve.
7. Look outwards. Make sure you have some initiative to get you through the day. Spend time with family, friends or work colleagues. If that’s not possible, why not try volunteering? Make a list of all you DO have that you’re grateful for; health, food, a roof over your head, people who care for you and there’s so much more. Simply acknowledge all the great things already in your life – yes, there ARE some!
We take things for granted, not appreciating how lucky we are until we’re under threat. Good health is certainly one of those most precious gifts which money can’t buy. I am truly grateful for the excellent care I received and that I am restored to full health.
I hope whatever’s troubling you is soon no more than a challenge which showed you the way forward, or to appreciate your many blessings. I’m taking nothing for granted any more and realise blessing come disguised in many forms.