It’s time to talk about sadness. This is a difficult emotion to discuss because it is not pleasant. While some people understand the power of a good scare or adrenaline rush, very few people want to feel sorrow, sadness, depression, or agony. Sadness is an emotion that is often classified a symptom of mental illness (bipolar disorder, clinical depression). But sadness, like all the “dark side” emotions, is more than just a symptom or a feeling to avoid.
I’m not talking about pain, because that is its own entry. I am talking about the emotion of sorrow. We grieve for many reasons, but grief is not often allowed in our culture or our day to day lives. Many years ago, after a rough breakup, a friend advised me to try going on an antidepressant. Yes, I was very sad. But an antidepressant wouldn’t have resolved my sorrow. To quote Alanis Morissette, the only way out was through.
Crying provides physical release, giving us a way to integrate our souls with our bodies. What could be better than that? How often have you faced a crisis and been completely calm, right up to the point of resolution? And then, when faced with the fact that everything is OK, you break down into hysterical tears? Your body is full of adrenaline and other hormones, which can be released through those tears.
Situational depression is when we face sorrow due to specific circumstances. The death of a loved one, divorce, a friend moving away, a child leaving home, the death of a career dream, etc. And while there is no shame in taking medication to get through a time of mourning, no amount of medication will take away the need for us to spend some time just getting through the grief.
Sadness needs to be acknowledged and felt.
When I had post partum depression, it was absolutely situational. And I increased my medication in order to decrease my symptoms. I also went to talk therapy. But at a certain point, I also had to just allow my feelings to exist. I had to acknowledge them, which was the true value of the talk therapy. My therapist gave me the space to say horrible things without judging me or trying to change me. It was only in her office that I could give voice to the deep dark lies of depression, and once they were out in the light, I was able to see the truth.
When my daughter turned a year old, I was mostly recovered from my depression, and it was then that I discovered the show Call the Midwife. This show was wonderful for me. If you’ve ever watched it, you know that it’s kind of a tear jerker! Watching the show, knowing that at some point I would get to cry, was a real emotional release for me. It allowed me to blow off the remaining steam from my period of intense depression. It gave me a reason to cry and let those feelings out.
Depression can be a serious illness that requires treatment, but it can also be a healthy normal emotion that, like all emotions, serves an important role in our lives. There’s no shame in crying, in slowing down, or in taking some time to mourn a loss or injustice.
Let yourself cry. Let yourself mourn and be sad.
And if you can’t get out; if you can’t stop crying or being sad, then get help. Schedule a call with me – I’m not a therapist but I can help you find one.
Love yourself. You are worth it.