Oh feels, you sure can get the best of me. It's amazing how quickly a fully functioning adult can be reduced to a blubbering mess. Sometimes, when your eyes are swollen and your chest is heaving it can be hard to imagine ever feeling OK again. I can see how hard it must be for most pregnant women to confront such intense waves of emotion. It's certainly harder than usual for me. I feel like my fuse is shorter, and all of my buttons are extra sensitive.
Lucky for me, I've been dealing with intense emotion my entire life. I've gotten a grip on breakdowns far more severe than anything I've encountered during pregnancy, so I have a few tricks up my sleeve when it comes to re-collecting myself. Life is funny that way, sidling you with "problems" than making use of the experiences those problems gave you later in life. The crippling depression of my youth has left me prepared to battle an army's worth of negativity. Thanks, emotional trauma!
When you find yourself spinning out of control, whether that means anger, sadness, anxiety, or some crazy emo-cocktail, here are a few ways to get a grip. These tips can certainly apply to anyone sinking into a dark place at any time, but I think they are especially helpful for dealing with an unexpected emotional crisis, something pregnancy is chuck full of.
- Cry it out. As a rule, I try to keep the floodgates closed as long as possible. Once I get started it can be difficult to stop. However, when you reach your breaking point, the best thing is often just to let it out. Have a good cry. Just make sure to drink a lot of water after you are done. (Or suffer the post-cry headache.)
- Regain perspective. Try to break down your situation to just the facts. What is upsetting you? How big of a deal is it? Be honest with yourself, and try to see the problem as it compares with the rest of your life. In my case, I'm itchy, miserable, and hungry. That all really sucks, but I'm also pregnant, something I've been waiting for for a long time. I'm not in danger. The baby is not in danger. I'm just really annoyed and uncomfortable. I can deal with that.
- Keep going. What I mean by this is that it can help to force yourself to still do the things you were going to do before you got upset. Sometimes you do just need to take a break, and that's OK. But as soon as you are able, get back on the horse and back into your routine. You will feel a lot more normal and sane than if you were lying in bed sobbing. Last night I forced myself to go to Yoga even though I really REALLY didn't feel like it. I could have stayed home, cuddled on the couch and sobbing into my husband's shoulder, but yoga was a lot more helpful.
- Live in the present. Taking a cue from our Buddhist friends, embracing the present can really help a lot. This is where you are right now. Pining for for things you can't have, or wishing for a body you aren't in, just doesn't get you anywhere. For better or worse, here you are. Take a close look, and try to accept life as it is in this moment. Thoughts like "but I don't WANT it to be this way" are totally valid and understandable, but they don't help. If you can't fix it, try and let it go.
- Make space for happier thoughts. Sometimes when I'm sad, a positive thought creeps in, and my instinct is to stamp it out. "Shut up you, I'm trying to be miserable here." Allowing yourself to feel happy can often be the hardest part of recovering from a dark moment. Be flexible, not stubborn. Let the happy thoughts join the party. Let them comfort you. Feeling better doesn't make your sadness any less valid.
- Choose to feel better. This is probably the most important step of all. Try not to forget that you are the master of your mind. You can let it run wild, or you can reign it in. Keep an eye on your thoughts. If they are spinning down a crappy path, stop them from going too far. Choose not to pursue that path, and find something else to focus on instead.
I did all of these things last night, and by the time I went to bed I did feel a lot better. Of course, when I woke up to a rash now covering my back, face, and ears, crying promptly resumed. Hormones have definitely shortened the length of that faucet. Anyway, I managed to recover myself by taking hold of steps 2, 3, 4, and 6.
Perspective: Baby is safe and this is temporary.
Keep going: I refuse to miss another day of work to blubbering. It just can't happen.
Live in the present: There is nothing else I can do to make this any better. I itch now. That is all.
Choose to feel better: I'm not allowing any more self-pitying thoughts today. When I feel them creep in, they get the kabash. I have a lot to be grateful for, and I'm choosing instead to think about that.
I hope this helps, fellow mamas. Show those feels who's boss.
Oh, and don't underestimate the healing power of cuddling.