February 20, 2015

Emotional irritation: agent of action

DEFCON Code Red = my current emotional irritation level. The Dr says this is healthy and good. Huh? Feeling irritated at everything in varying degrees, general low-level grumpiness, an over-riding feeling of being uber fed-up – all feels really ick – how can that be a good thing?

One hour later and I get it. Emotional irritation in these situations is an agent of action and change. It’s progress, so bring it on. I’ll share two different personal examples of how this works:

I’m really fed up of this recovery business. Understatement.

So I assume others to be too; of it, of me. So much so that I’ve told a few white lies recently to family and friends when they’ve asked how I’m doing: ‘Oh fine, moving forward, getting back into work’ etc.

Partly this is true, I am doing all these things. However, I omit the other parts of my day / night where everything is far from ok and I feel a fragile mess just keeping the PTSD at bay.

Cue immense irritation, at myself and everyone I’ve told :) stemming from using the old ‘brave face’. Being ashamed has to stop. I need to change this, learn it’s ok to use my real voice, and say more accurately: ‘I’m not totally ok, I feel rubbish. I feel really sad about Miss P. I’m still dealing with a lot of deeply horrible stuff, sleep is crap and I’m not out of the woods yet. I’m working really hard. I’m getting there.’ The person I most need to yell this at is myself.

Emotional irritation is red flagging: no more ‘brave face’ white lies.

I’m trying to organise some practical house admin stuff for my brother; it has become a tad frustrating.

We work differently regards this kind of thing, think horizontally relaxed attitude versus ship-shape organizer – it’s just different styles, nothing either of us is unaware of, and in fact it’s exactly why we usually complement each other with stuff like this.

The healthy part of me is just mildly frustrated with him in the usual sibling type of way. So where did extreme code red irritation suddenly appear from here?

Turns out it’s not really to do with the situation at hand, rather what it has inadvertently touched upon from the illness wound. It highlights a rather rancid leftover from the CSA: a deeply engrained belief that my sole purpose in life is to facilitate others’, help them achieve what they want (regardless of my own needs / wishes) ergo my life is not as important as anyone else’s, only a satellite service role, blah. Urgh. The severe irritation isn’t actually in response to my brother or the house admin at all (phew) rather it’s sparked by a tenuous link to an old belief system I’m vehemently revolting against.

Emotional irritation is red flagging: watch for the source and don’t accept the old belief or role, then voice changes, however small.

A kind & helpful tool…

In both these example situations something does not sit well with the new, whole person post-illness. Therefore, this emotional irritation serves a functional purpose. It signals the necessity to rectify a situation by challenging the unspoken and the actual source of the irritation.

Blindingly obvious to many perhaps, but for anyone who never learnt to understand that particular cognitive functionality as a child, courtesy of the havoc CSA plays with the brain’s development, it can be a revelation: emotional irritation isn’t just something to be endured, it has a purpose.

It may feel ick, and be an inconvenient, uncomfortable feeling but it’s really helpful to see the emotional irritation in these type of situations as a useful agent of action and change. 

Unspoken = irritation

Spoken = discourse & resolution

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