How to feel feelings?

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Alias

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How to feel feelings?
« on: August 03, 2018, 08:52:44 AM »
This might sound dumb, but does anybody else have the issue of not feeling emotions? 

Evidently, I have emotions, but don't feel most of them.  My (otherwise excellent) therapist set me up in a DBT group, but it kind of feels like I'm in the wrong class.  The group is supposed to help with emotional regulation, but it seems really focused on helping people who have really strong emotions reel them in.  I have the opposite problem.  I occasionally have physiological responses out of nowhere but they seem completely random.  I don't feel whatever emotion it is, so I have to sort of reverse engineer it (consult a chart) to determine which emotion corresponds to the response.

For years, I've found it easy to discuss traumatic memories with horrified acquaintances (and sometimes strangers) because I have no emotional connection to those memories.  This also makes it really hard to determine where the line is between "interesting story that adds to the conversation", and "story that will horrify and/or traumatize listeners".  Apparently, I cannot begin EMDR or other trauma therapy until I can "feel" these things, but I need to work through this stuff in order to stop randomly losing gaps of time throughout my day.   :fallingbricks: :disappear:

Anyone else have this issue?  If so, do you have any suggestions?  Has anyone been successful in figuring out where the feelings went?   :Idunno:

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Wattlebird

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Re: How to feel feelings?
« Reply #1 on: August 03, 2018, 12:31:39 PM »
Hi alias
I have a similar problem though not quite to the same extent, I have learnt to recognise an emotion from where I feel it in my body ( I learnt mindfulness and this helped me enormously ) as I cannot relate emotions to situations very well and as u say reverse engineer the experience to work it out
I do feel things though, just not very much and I tend to dissociate at stronger emotions, my therapist says the emotions are there I just need to stop doing what I'm doing to block them ?? This will only happen in a safe environment, ( this is her opinion or belief or whatever )
I keep reading about these strong emotions  :Idunno:

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Alias

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Re: How to feel feelings?
« Reply #2 on: August 03, 2018, 06:36:34 PM »
Thanks for your reply Wattlebird.  It's reassuring to know that I'm not the only one.  Apparently my losing time is a dissociative response to "strong emotions" too.  I'm pretty sure all the feelings just sort of avalanche at the same time and I don't have time to register what's going on before my system blue-screens.  I have also been told to just stop blocking them, but it's like having automated turret guns that you can't see, and wondering why you never have visitors.  Then if a big crowd ever makes it past the perimeter, your house knocks you out like King Kong and runs away with you. 

It's good to hear that mindfulness has helped you.  It's a big part of the DBT class, but I guess I just haven't given it enough time.  I have also been working with a chart to guess the emotion from body sensations.  I'll have to focus more on those skills specifically then. 

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Eyessoblue

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Re: How to feel feelings?
« Reply #3 on: August 03, 2018, 06:57:47 PM »
Hi, this was me a few months ago, but it was actually by having emdr that I learnt to feel feelings. I too am very dissociative but I was able to do emdr by doing it in very quick bursts so that I could keep with it for short moments without switching off.
Since Iíve had emdr I have started to become aware of Ďmeí and stop pushing the feelings away which was something I always did, now I sit and think about how I feel and let myself get upset and cry if I need to, it has been a long process but I can tell you that now I allow myself to do this I feel a lot better in myself. Yesterday for instance I felt really sad and low, normally Iíd have kept really busy and avoided it but instead I sat with it and thought about how I was feeling and ended up crying most of the day which is really unlike me, but today I woke up and felt really refreshed as if something had been lifted away from me.
 Itís about giving yourself permission to feel.

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Alias

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Re: How to feel feelings?
« Reply #4 on: August 06, 2018, 02:44:28 PM »
Eyessoblue, it's good to hear that you've had success with emdr without having to work on emotional sensitivity first.  Was there something about emdr that made it feel different?  I've been talking to my therapist for months about specific details of my trauma and nothing has come up for me.  If I am pushing any feelings away, it's before they even register.  My impression (could be wrong) was that emdr was basically just talking about the experiences, but with feedback.  I am already an open book.  I guess what I'm asking is whether you were already discussing the things that happened in detail, but found that emdr brought more emotions to the surface than just talking about it. 

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Eyessoblue

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Re: How to feel feelings?
« Reply #5 on: August 06, 2018, 03:20:16 PM »
Hi I had t start off my doing a trauma line basically my very first trauma from the age of 2 up to adulthood, nothing was discussed it was just written down. Then we started off about talking about safety and finding a safe place in my head where I could escape to of I needed to, then we started. I had to bring my first trauma to mind and try and remember the most traumatic time, I did and then rated it on a  sore of 1-10 ten being the worst. Whilst the memory was in my head she moved her fingers really quickly and I went back to the trauma it brought up lots of things like what I was wearing, time of year etc and then just made me cry a lot, we did it scene by scene until I felt the memory had moved and we could move on, also felt lots of physical sensations in my body so we worked on them and processed those too, it does leave you a bit sheíll shocked for about a week as your brain continues to process it but after that time I could think about it and talk about it as if it was something as simple as Iíd just popped to the shop, there were no emotions then attached to it and itís just something I know that happened but now doesnít bother me anymore, itís well worth doing if you can.

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Alias

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Re: How to feel feelings?
« Reply #6 on: August 06, 2018, 05:07:16 PM »
Thanks for the insight.  That was very helpful to get a glimpse of what the process looks like.  My therapist has been planning to do emdr with me for a while.  It sounds like I'm starting out at the last step,
I could think about it and talk about it as if it was something as simple as Iíd just popped to the shop, there were no emotions then attached to it and itís just something I know that happened but now doesnít bother me anymore
except that I just randomly lose time or have "eyeball sweat" with no emotional connection at times when I'm not even thinking about anything.  I guess in my case, the point might be to reattach the emotions to the corresponding events, and then deactivate them so they stop wreaking havoc in other places?  Either way, it sounds like the process sort of forces you to find the feelings and deal with them. 

To clarify, I'm 29 and have been back in school for 4 1/2 years.  I've been totally fine for the last 7-8 years since I've been out of my "situation".  I was supposed to graduate last semester but instead had a spectacular mental breakdown (wherein I missed 2 months of school by just "losing time"  :disappear: trying to get ready and "reappearing" 3-5 hours later still standing at my front door with one shoe on).  Since then, even when I am present, it's just been weird flashbacks/nightmares and ruminating over increasingly ridiculous scenarios wherein my abuser shows up where I am and tries to murder me.  With the exception of my therapy and DBT appointments, I've spent the last 3 months holed up in my apartment trying to drink away a neverending stream of flashbacks that I can't have feelings about, but am tired of having to watch.  I thought I had moved on with my life, but clearly something has gone very wrong with the way I've processed the first 20 years of my life.  It's like I tried to move those memories to their own folder, but instead they got integrated into the operating system and gummed up the code.

Since fall semester starts back up this month, I'm hoping that the emdr will at least help me deal in a more effective way (to be fair, I can't imagine a less effective way than the way I've been dealing with things so far).  Perhaps I should talk to my therapist about just starting the emdr now and continuing to work on mindfulness/dbt as I go. 


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Eyessoblue

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Re: How to feel feelings?
« Reply #7 on: August 06, 2018, 06:30:20 PM »
Hi yes definitely mention it, it sounds like you disassociate a bit too like me, but again emdr can be adapted to you in much shorter bursts so you donít lose track of where you are/feelings etc, when I started doing it in shorter bursts it was far more affective for me. Definitely give it a go.