Special Note: I’m writing this on Thanksgiving Day. I have much to be thankful for, but wanted to mention that I am especially thankful that my oldest son survived a horrific automobile accident on election evening and is going to make a full recovery. I am truly blessed. There will be no blog next week, as I will be in Texas for the funeral of my stepdad who passed last Friday. He was a WWII veteran, a proud and honorable man. He will be missed, God speed, sir.
Disappointment, hurt feelings, crushing blows and heartbreak.
As sensitive men, our negative feelings seemed to hurt more, feel heavier and last longer. It is a unique and peculiar burden we bear. The depth of feeling has been documented with fMRI scans of HSPs. It is not just imagination, it’s real. We have a tendency to get stuck in our feelings, looking for perfection in ourselves or, perhaps, it’s just in our nature to seek the ultimate truth through feeling.
These deep insights mean sometimes we have deep hurts, disappointments or emotional blows that are difficult to get over. Bouncing back from these deep emotions can be challenging for HSMs in a world where men are expected to deflect pain, angst and worries as if they were trifling matters. It doesn’t help that many HSMs are perfectionists and can compound this longevity of feeling, by beating ourselves up with self-criticism for not being more resilient.
How HSPs deal with deep emotions differently.
I do brain training for a living. I work with a special type of neurofeedback software that allows the brain to become aware of emotionally troubling patterns, based upon the EEG feedback the software receives. When the brain is processing this deep emotional stuff, we often can observe a great deal of activity around 3-5 hz, which we refer to as dirty theta. Since theta is on the lower end of the monitored brainwave activity, this supports the old saying that “stuff rolls downhill.” This deeply felt, deeply processed emotional baggage, often lies below conscious awareness. The brain training helps the brain to become more aware of these patterns to help de-energize them.
With HSPs, we tend to process more deeply our emotional stuff and I imagine that a lot of that rolls downhill to that particular “area” in dirty theta. Compound the situation with the fact that HSPs are more empathic creatures and you now have situations where we are not only processing our own deep emotions but carry the load of others around us as well. We share their ‘dirty theta’, absorbing like a sponge the emotional energy of others. This becomes overwhelm by empathy. And because we are processing more deeply these emotions and more completely, we can easily get stuck, sometimes in endless loops of analysis and processing for longer periods of time than most people do.
Can the non-HSP world really understand how much we hurt?
The answer is mixed on this. Yes, there are those in the non-HSP world that will understand why we process emotion and will be great allies and sympathetic to our tendency to hold on to emotional hurt, pain, rejections, etc. But my guess is that the world largely sees this characteristic in HSMs and HSPs and considers it to be borderline neurotic and/or at least obsessive.
Hearing “get over yourself”, “your too sensitive”, “don’t be a wuss”, instills a since of guilt and shame especially for male HSPs, who in spite of their intentions to get over things, just can’t help processing and reprocessing that hurt, pain or heartbreak. And because HSMS don’t readily practice non-HSP means of distraction, such as externalizing our feelings or pain, and redirecting into some socially acceptable, yet temporary fix, like going out on a bender, we naturally shoulder inwardly the pain, replaying and cross examining, what we did wrong.
Targets on our backs.
This self-flagellation can create low self-esteem in HSMs. Low self-esteem creates a perfect environment to attract the wrong element into our lives. Bullies and narcissists flock to those who they perceive to be weak, and HSMs with low self-esteem can certainly appear to lack confidence and strength to the outside world. It kicks in some kind of reptilian survival function in bullies and they react to manipulate and exploit this perceived weakness in others.
This is not only important for HSM boys to be aware of, but as adult HSMs the manipulation and traps abound at work, at home, in love and in society. It’s as if we have a target on our backs. Feeling too much, too deeply, makes us seem weak and ineffectual to those would take advantage of our caring, deep hearts. There are always those in an insensitive world that seem to want to impatiently bully the sensitive ones, to their own subjugation.
But, isn’t our strength really in this perceived weakness? Don’t we have something they sorely lack? A depth of feeling beyond their shallow emotional range, an ability to be authenticate in our feeling and the courage to show with it and go with it, beyond their capacity to feel. Aren’t they really just jealous of our broad canvas and deep hues of emotion, which allows us to paint the tapestry, sometimes tortured, of our complex feelings? As we behold and labor over ever stroke of our brush upon the canvas of our feelings.
Living through the deep cuts, flowing through the emotion.
Authenticity is our kryptonite to a bullying, insensitive world. Remaining genuine to our feelings, however, complex and deep, allowing them to flow through us, is exactly what we were designed to do and to be. Why hide what we are, why shun our true selves? Trying to be another version of masculinity, the manufactured Hollywood version of manhood, is not us.
Remember there are real world health consequences to suppressing our natural flow of emotion that will stress our systems, our bodies and minds to a breaking point. Don’t fall into that trap. And when I say emotions, I mean all of them: joy, sorrow, pain, ecstasy, passion, hurt in all its forms, anger, disgust – hold nothing back. Not even tears. Tears were not created for the benefit of the manufacturer of Kleenex, they are natures emotional cleansing fluid. So cry, dammit.
Even as men and yes, especially as men, we need to model to our children and to the world, what it means to be authenticate and real with our feelings, our perceptions and our insights. In a world, with muddled instincts, with clouded emotions, with a lack of vision and clarity everywhere, our insights as HSMs are sorely needed now. We need to lead, but lead in our uniquely HSM way. Not to dominate, but to share, instruct, guide and counsel a world that yearns for that balance, that harmony, that depth of feeling. And certainly there is some adapting we have to do for the world, but adaptation does not mean abdication of our true selves, our true roles.
The strength of deep feeling, when emotion is a shield.
Although, I am convinced that deep feeling is a strength and can yield some amazing insights, sometimes the negative feelings can be too much. It’s important to make sure that as HSMs we validate in some way our emotions, check them with an outside observer – a friend, a family member or trusted other. I know for myself, it’s easy to run wild with emotion and let my over analytical brain create and compound issues, without any external validation. This can help calm and teach your HSP mind to settle down when things get overwhelming.
You can be assured that the emotion regardless of how inundating it may seem it, too, will pass in time. Letting it flow over you, knowing you won’t drown with these emotional waves is key to staying true to who you are. Reject any notions of self-destruction within your thoughts, being overly self-critical, not only sets you up as a target, but can serve as fodder for self-berating thinking. Know there is always hope, and surround yourself with hopeful, helpful people, people you trust, who accept you for being you. Your emotional self is in reality your shield. Let it protect you, let it guide you.
On a side note: Something I have been thinking about a lot lately is how to create a message for employers that HSPs can be some of the most imaginative and creative employees they have. The need to foster an environment where HSPs thrive is important to getting the most from your HSP staff. HSMs have many drivers in the work place, but I see a simple model of how using these natural drivers would aid HSMs to create novel and unique solutions to work problems. In theme with our message about deep emotions these drivers come naturally to us.
First, our attention to detail and observation skills create an awareness about our environment that others might miss. This awareness spurs our creativity and intuition that helps in creating novel solutions. These novel solutions create passion in the HSP which aids in driving towards a solution and its installation. You see, all of these steps, require deep emotional processing. Again, a strength. I’ll have more on this later.
Thanks for dropping by, until next week…
Being a loner or being alone
When I was little, I would love to play in my room for hours with toy soldiers, miniature cars and Lincoln Logs. Sometimes it was like I was directing a movie, filled with dramatic scenes, terse dialogue, and the careful movement of characters upon my own little stage. I had great fun with this. Later on as I got older and put the toys away, I would grab one of the encyclopedias from the den bookshelf and would read or research a fascinating topic, like tracing the English monarchs from Alfred the Great to Queen Elizabeth. All this for no other reason than to be alone with my thoughts, without distraction.
Sometimes the neighbor kids would ring the doorbell and ask me to come out and play. I would fake a headache or stomach ache, or anything else I could think of just to return to my solitude. I wasn’t like this all the time, about half the time I would opt instead to go outside and play, build forts in the woods, or play a game of catch or kickball in the street. But when I needed downtime, I would retreat to my room and revel in being alone.
I was fortunate, as I was the only boy in the family, and the oldest so I got my own room. It was truly my castle, my fortress and I used it well. Sometimes, my friends thought I was weird about this, remarking wryly that I should probably see a doctor about all those headaches and stomach aches. It became a bit of joke in the neighborhood. But, I always knew instinctively when I needed to shelter in my room, and regardless of my peers commentary, I carried on.
At times, I wondered if it was because I was a lone wolf, a solitary boy that need solitary time that made me different. At that time I had not yet registered that I was wired from the beginning for this type of solitude, the need for alone time. Now as an HSM adult, I recognize the importance to my system of parking myself away for a time, processing, recharging and quieting down my brain.
Why alone time is essential to HSMs.
When describing to others, what it’s like to be an HSP, I will cup my hands together, like praying hands, where the tips of my fingers barely touch, with the palms bent like open sails. I then open the fingertips just a bit wider, perhaps a few inches and say that this is like the non-HSP brain, where the gap between fingers is the aperture of their sensory reception. The flow of data being what a non-HSP would receive at any given time, not limited but not overflowing.
I then open the fingers wider, much wider, so that the aperture is much larger and say that this is the comparative difference between what an HSP receives in sensory data. The gap is substantial. These gaps stay pretty constant for each group; with I suppose some variation for stressful times. The constant bombardment of information, takes its toll on HSPs, usually followed by some type of overwhelm and then the need to withdraw to quiet quarters. This is the necessary downtime, all HSPs need. This is the importance of solitude to HSPs, that period of silent regrouping, of catch up processing time, of freeing and purging the queue, and mostly of resting alone time.
How often this occurs varies from one HSP to another. Some need more time than others, some need complete alone time, while others may just require a throttle down of stimulation and social contact. But be assured, all HSPs need this time. We don’t function well without it.
Confusion around HSP downtime.
Just like my boyhood friends, there is likely much confusion about the need for this sanctuary for HSPs among friends, family, partners, co-workers and social acquaintances. This need for “aloneness”, may make us seem like recluses to others, maybe even dangerously shy or socially anxious. Although some of those attributes may apply to some, for the most part this has nothing to do with our need for temporary seclusion.
Like introverts (which many of us are), we tend to draw significant amounts of energy from within. The outside world tends to drain us of that energy and in order to refill our tanks we need the space and time to do that. Most of the world sees that as odd and can’t quite grasp why we shun 24/7 connection. By nature, we are not always on, favoring the need to be off at times.
In this area, I think HSMs have a slight advantage over HSP females. Culturally, men who are lone wolves carry a cache or mystique about them, you know the dark, quiet types. Independent and brooding, the stuff of solitary heroes. Think of the lone woodsman in Alaska, independent and alone. Women on the other hand, are expected to be more social and this could present some perceptual problems for HSP women who need to isolate to recoup their energy. This could add some stigma to them that is not merited, but gets delivered anyway. Think the bookish, librarian, alone amongst the stacks, who prefers a quiet tea over shots of Tequila with her girlfriends.
Does significant alone time mean loneliness?
There is always a thin line between being alone and being lonely. For some people, being alone at all for short periods of time, conjures up thoughts of abandonment and/or loneliness. To an HSP though, that sweet solitude, that break from humanity, is the elixir of life. Something to return to often and in proportion to the stress of life. But, it can be too much. Isolation to an HSP can be addictive. In a healthy manner, it has purpose and place, but taken too far, it can be a prelude to social avoidance, fear and anxiety.
If HSMs are naturally shy, then stepping out of the comfort zone can be challenging. Rushing back to the sanctitude of aloneness, although a refuge, can also become a prison. Knowing the upper threshold of solitude, as it borders onto the cold plains of loneliness, is important for all of us HSPs. I wonder at times, if we are limited by our hardware, our wiring, to constantly live on the edge of that isolated border with loneliness with occasional forays into the warmth and shelter of companionship.
What price the cost of solitude?
In many ways, we HSPs go against the grain of social interaction. We tug back and forth between the non-HSP world and our own shelters. The cost of this sometimes, may mean loss of friends, real and potential, misunderstanding amongst our family and peers and the unnecessary labeling of us as social isolates and troubled souls.
I think sometimes for me, it’s a selfish indulgence, that keeps me disconnected especially from my family. Not intentional, I pull myself back to the comfort of my own solitude, alone with my thoughts and sometimes without a reference that society would provide me. And, I wonder, what have I missed? What learning, what interaction, and what emotion did I not experience? And, yes, I am feeling that now, more than ever as I age.
Balancing sanctuary with social interaction.
As with all things in life, it’s about balance. As HSPs we need the down time, that’s obvious, but we also need the opportunity for social growth. For getting out there in the world, pushing our comfort zones from time to time, growing and experiencing the world outside of our heads. As much as I love being alone at times, I do need social interaction and contact. Sometimes boldly and sometimes quietly, but getting out there a mixing it up with others is just the intoxication I need to feel alive again.
I think it helps for us HSPs to be involved with socially active partners or friends. They serve as brokers and intermediaries into the greater world. Find one and attach yourself to them. But choose one that is mindful of your HSP needs and respects your requirement for downtime. Do things that will energize you, charge your batteries and channel some of that energy to social affairs and interactions with others.
Getting prime face time is experientially beneficial for you and for those you interact with. Be sure to understand your limits and communicate them to those who care. They can have your back in social outings. Reach out to others and don’t just wait on others to reach out to you. There is growth inherent in doing this and it keeps you attached to the planet on which you live.
Above all, seek out kindred spirits, people who will respect you and will desire your company. And when you step out in to the world, make sure you are mostly in environments that you can thrive in, positive, optimistic, healing places. It’s easy to get mired in the negativity surrounding our world, since we absorb so much of that deeply. It’s not always simple to shrug off, like so many non-HSPs can. Make your base camp a place that nurtures your tender and creative spirit. Then go hiking bravely on the trails of social interaction.
So, tell me. What metaphor describes us best: lone wolf or pack dog that sometimes needs quiet sanctuary of the den?
Thanks for dropping by, until next week…
Day after the election: What am I feeling right now?
It’s midday, the morning after one of the most important presidential elections in US history. My team lost and I'm full of conflicting emotions. Normally, when one of my sports team loses, I go through a period of anger, mourning, resentment, much like a spoiled child. But then time passes and, better faculties prevail and I move towards acceptance and homeostasis.
Today feels different, a sinking feeling not only for the loss of my candidate, but a much greater fear for the country and subsequently the world. This is like getting hit in the gut by one of your friends, unexpected and shocking. It’s like dropping over, with wind knocked out of you, and you wait anxiously for that moment of breathlessness to cease and air to rush back into your lungs again. It’s hollow and empty. I know the air will come back, but as I wait, there is that moment when you think: what if it doesn’t?
This week’s blog was to have been about dealing with difficult emotions, perhaps, a nod to moodiness, or the perception of moodiness. And i wonder, is it more common in HSMs? How often have HSMs been described as moody guys, or a drama kings because we show more emotion, or react more emotionally than most men do. Sometimes emotions roll out quickly for us and are difficult to mask-- almost automatically the emotional reaction is present.
With most guys anger is the dominant visible emotion. But what about showing shock, fear, joy or sorrow? And when you do, do you shutdown, withdraw or cover up difficult emotions. Is it a sign of weakness to show fear, sadness, or surprise? Is it less manly? Does context matter, or is it all about bucking up and remaining stoic no matter the situation.
Are difficult mood swings moodiness?
My difficult emotions are hurt, shock and surprise. For example, when a conversation is going along at a measured pace with a friend, family member or love interest and suddenly the timbre of the conversation changes abruptly and gets unexpectedly tense; I almost go into a state of shock and confusion.
Some people claim I shut down or become moody. My mood does change, but mostly without my conscious awareness. It might even take some time to recover and re-balance afterwards. However, during that moody stage, I am sometimes completely withdrawn as thoughts race through my mind, wondering what went wrong and what did I say. This state of mind makes me a lousy debater and in the heat of an argument, almost defenseless.
Is this moodiness? What makes up the “Moody Guy” syndrome? Is this something I really have control of, or is it operating at the speed of unconscious thought? Is this reactionary thinking or a protective response?
So much of mood, is impacted by biochemical elements. Since so much of moodiness is predicated by anxiety, and anxiety affects neurochemistry, which in turn triggers behavioral shifts (moods), is this just a rapid fire physiological reaction to mind impacting stress? And as an HSP male am I more prone to this because of my enhanced sensory make up? Lots of questions few answers.
Some people would argue that it has shared characteristics with bi-polar disorder. Sometimes the mood shifts have a similar intensity as bi-polar shifts, but the duration, especially for me is not nearly as pronounced. It can be over fairly quickly; still the impact is clear and immediate. To the person I am interacting with it can be very confusing.
Now before the alarms go off, the instances of this happening are not as frequent as you might imagine, and although the intensity seems severe, it is more likely to be considered as moderate or even mild. As I get older, I am also learning to moderate these feelings and observe them as they occur.
Often, men don’t seem to have the hormonal card to play with extreme moods, but lately I have been learning of the male version of PMS, referred to as Irritable Male Syndrome or IMS. Many men, especially older men, report lower testosterone levels as they age. There is some evidence that lower testosterone effects mood in men. This could cause some men to show grumpiness, anger or other outwardly focused emotions as their testosterone levels drop. In fact, it might even increase sensitivity, anxiety and frustration. Sound familiar, HSM brothers?
Other factors might include drops in the brain neurotransmitter, serotonin, which can affect how we feel. This is often affected by diet. Stressors in life, stress associated with male identity, including what it means to be a man in the twenty-first century, all can contribute to changes in mood for men. I suspect this might be amplified for HSMs.
What’s so difficult about sharing these feelings?
These mood changes sometimes, especially, for HSMs are difficult to share. As noted before, the emotions are not often ones that are easily expressed or accepted as emotions men express easily, which can make it difficult for others to understand or accept. I wonder if keeping this under wraps is a function of a learned response or some innate trait that is characteristic of HSMs. Nevertheless, this can be difficult to express and can make us seem moody and overly dramatic to other men and especially to women who may find it a turnoff to be around man this moody.
Why moodiness is seen as such a negative trait.
If you go to online dating sites, one of the most common characteristics listed by potential partners is the desire to avoid “drama” in relationships. I have never quite figured that out yet, because everyone’s definition of drama is different. For some, the slightest element of negative emotion sends them running for cover, while others extreme emotion is what drives them away.
Regardless, real drama is based on life, and life, like it or not is full of emotion. The term drama too me is a turn off. Anything resembling moodiness, conjures up negativity in many people and they like to avoid it at all costs. What I have observed is that those who are most attuned to moodiness, are the ones who generally are the most moody, yet can’t see it themselves. It’s a classic projection scenario.
Perhaps, the prevailing attitude is that moody people are not in control of their negatives emotions. I realize that in some cases this is true, but in other cases there’s more than what appears on the surface. The confusion may be that moodiness and say, bi-polar are often misunderstood to be the same things. Perhaps, someone from the judging person’s past, had other personality issues, bi-polar, or borderline personality disorder and now everyone with the appearance of moodiness is now a sick puppy, to be avoided at all costs.
Especially for men the externalization of these difficult moods is not considered desirable. A man that shows these tendencies shows a certain finickiness and similarity to a type of hormonal driven emotion that is often attributed to PMS and to negative feminine moodiness. Well, guys can have this too. Combine that with the emotional processing capabilities of HSM males and well, moodiness happens.
How to deal with temperamental emotional swings.
I think the main thing here is to try and be mindful of what is happening within in your own head. So much of the emotional reaction is automatic and unconscious. Nevertheless, thoughts are associated with those feelings, so putting a “thought-catcher” to examine them carefully will help slow down the runaway train. This is a trained response and not one that is native to most of us HSMs. It requires attention and focus and repetition. We often want to run with our wild emotions, but sometimes need to train them instead. Attention, capture, examine and release.
Get clear on what moodiness is for you. Don’t confuse needing downtime as being moody. As an HSP you need that time to recharge. You will always need that time and you will not be able to change that part of you. Accept that about yourself. Then there are the physical things, sleep, diet, exercise and in your quiet time, a meditative practice of your choosing will help. For men, get your testosterone levels checked. It’s important for a number of health reasons, not just for your emotions. And as always, if this gets too stressful, too difficult, too overwhelming…get help.
Is this native to HSM(P)s?
I don’t know that there is any study out there that says if you are an HSP you will be a moody person. From my own experience, that seems to be the case. However, we are all different, coming from different backgrounds, different genetic heritage and different environments and that can affect your mileage on this.
As more studies are done with HSPs, as we learn more, there will be a greater understanding of the complexity of highly sensing people. For now, expect to be labeled as moody at times, depends largely on the crowd you are associated with.
Looking for the right people to be with.
Finally, I think as an HSP and an HSM, it is important to be selective in who you hang out with. Your inner circle should understand you and your traits and accept them for what they are. This doesn’t mean being around only HSPs, but rather those people who see you for the special person you are and understand at times to them you might be challenging. But as I once told an ex-girlfriend, the same guy that you complain about mood swings and being too sensitive, is the same guy that writes you beautiful love poems and buys you flowers for no reason. It’s all part of the package.
Thanks for dropping by, until next week…
Depression in my genes?
As I sit here, this week, penning this blog, I am experiencing an old familiar feeling. It’s a lonely, dark feeling; mostly void, but strong enough to register on the emotion scale. It comes and goes as sadness, as disappointment, a feeling left behind. It’s not debilitating, I don’t curl up under a table, I don’t cry, but I do feel it in my body and way deep in my mind. It’s hard to express in words, it’s mostly a body sensation, like pushing down from my eyelids down through my shoulders and cratering in my chest cavity. Is this depression?
My father before he died of a massive coronary, spent time in the hospital, in a dark place. Fearful and absent of hope, he battled his own demons. He was diagnosed with depression. It tormented him and eventually, I believe caused his death. He struggled with a small business, a growing family and responsibilities that exceeded his capacities to cope.
I see the same in one of my children, and possibly the early formation in one of my grandchildren. All the aforementioned individuals are or were HSPs. The question I have is, is depression more likely in HSPs or is this simply a particular genetic component that gets passed from one generation to the next?
This insidious disease – is it just chemistry or it is wayward thoughts?
Research seems to indicate that depression does have a genetic component, at least a propensity for depression. It’s not necessarily a single gene, but could in fact be a suite of genes that causes depression. Of course, there are always environmental factors and it would seem that personality would influence this as well.
Because of the tendency for HSPs to feel things more intensely, it stands to reason that we would be more prone to overwhelm with melancholy. But is it just deep, wayward thoughts that trigger this disease --just feelings gone awry. We all have on occasion experienced sadness and disappointment and loss. Yet, for the majority of people who experience sadness, recovery is inevitable and they eventually bounce back.
So clearly there is more to it than just incorrect thinking. By now I think it’s pretty clear (watch the commercials on the evening news) that there is a chemical deficiency in the brain that can lead to depression. The pharmaceutical industry has stepped in to provide a pharmacopeia of medicines to battle depression, and has provided an array of anti-depressant meds to numb and calm and flatten the experience for depressive individuals.
I have tried these meds and found that they via chemical manipulation remove a whole host of other feelings good and bad. It’s like applying weed killer to your lawn, killing the weeds and your grass as well. I got off of them as quickly as I could. For an HSP, losing touch with feelings is losing touch with self. Our feelings are how we experience the world.
When feeling more sucks – HSMs and depression
Yet as HSMs we do feel more than most. Our highs are pretty ecstatic and our lows are fairly intense. Almost sounds bi-polar, doesn’t it? But is depression a natural consequence of experiencing life with more depth, more feeling and emotion? Would this hint that HSPs are more likely to become depressed than, say the other eighty per cent of the population? Do we swing lower down near the dark waters of loneliness, despair and emptiness?
Is that also caused by some genetic component or a switch that allows us to “paint” with more of the emotional palette humans experience? Do we open ourselves more to the darker feelings because we can or because we have no choice? Mix in our natural propensity to overthink situations and it would be easy to see how this level of intensity could cause depressive episodes in HSPs.
Can empathy cause depression?
Not to pile on here, but add our unusual capacity for empathy, to absorb the feelings of others and you can be certain that at some point overwhelm is lurking just over our shoulders. Even feeling bad about feeling bad, how our sadness affects others, can be a cause of concern. Perhaps, being too empathetic can lead to some of the characteristics of depression, but I really wonder if it can actually cause depression.
Empathy is a survival tool mostly seen in mammals-- social creatures, where collective good is paramount to surviving. It would seem that nature, would have not devised this characteristic if it could be used to undermine the individual’s wellbeing. As HSPs, this is one of greatest assets. Yet, if all the ingredients arrive at the same place at the same time: genetics, bio-chemistry, cognitive distortion and personality type (i.e., HSP), you could bake up some serious depression.
Where in your body do you feel it?
I have always felt this feeling somewhere in my body. It’s just lately that I have begun to pay attention to it. It comes and goes, but I always know in my body when it arrives. Some people feel emotion associated with depression in there chest area; others feel small and compressed; still others feel it in their shoulders, much like a weight; or a burning inside; or emptiness, like the void. I feel it in my chest and throat, a sinking, tingling sensation. Sometimes it rises from my chest area, and then sinks down into my solar plexus. It’s distinct, like a signal flag in a desert.
And it can be ephemeral, coming and going without warning. There’s something very visceral about depression or feeling sadness. The downing is felt in the body as well as in the head. It blankets you, wraps you tightly and not in a comforting filling you with a tight uneasiness. Which is why I think it’s so hard to escape it.
Riding through the avalanche, completing the arc…
Now for the topic of coping and dealing with depression. As stated previously, this is an insidious and potentially dangerous disease. Weathering the storm can be tricky and trying to remain objective in your own head about what’s going on, is a best at fool’s errand. Riding down the avalanche alone can leave you buried alive, slowly suffocating from the weight of forces greater than yourself.
There are a myriad of ways of coping, some simple and easy to do – diet, exercise, relaxation techniques, and taking natural supplements. Others require a great deal of work and connection with someone trained to help – therapy, medicines, and learning new skills designed to help overcome the overwhelm. I found a great article here with some useful tips and suggestions.
Whatever the case, riding down the emotional arc of life, requires a completion of sorts. Returning to a place that’s neutral or even better, a place of peace, will complete the ride. For HSMs it’s all a part of our great adventure. We sample emotions like a truck driver at an all-night buffet. It’s easy to get caught up in our own experiences and not realize that most of the world isn’t even aware of what we are processing. We’ve learned that sharing too much, can be exposing too much, and so we hide in our own world of emotion. This is especially true for the negatively branded emotions. The ones men are not supposed to discuss.
It’s time to be mindful, particularly of those troubling emotions, acknowledge them, share them and process them. We too, have to paint with the dark colors sometimes, to bring the light colors out on the canvas. And it is often our interpretation of that darkness that sheds light for others who suffer likewise, but can’t express with our depth of processing.
So, I take comfort in writing this down. I know now in my heart, that I will survive the avalanche.
When not to be alone in the lonely dark void
As a parting word, if you are truly alone and are facing the void of depression, reach out and get help. HSMs are just as likely as others when facing difficult depressive states, to think the unthinkable and to lose hope. We are cautious creatures by nature, but in the depth of darkness, release from these oppressive feelings can present in many unsavory forms. Realize there is help out there and that you are not alone. Remember, we need all HSMs on deck now. Your life is important.
Thanks for dropping by, until next week…
Bill Allen lives in Bend, Oregon. He is a certified hypnotist and brain training coach at BrainPilots.com. He believes that male sensitivity is not so rare, but it can be confounding for most males living in a culture of masculine insensitivity which teaches boys and men to disconnect from their feelings and emotions. His intent is to use this blog to chronicle his personal journey and share with others.