Yesterday was a hard day. I had a painful medical test to try to figure out why I pee so frequently, and why I’ve recently started peeing visible blood. We found out I don’t have bladder stones or any obstruction there, which is good news, but it’s also bad news because I still don’t have answers. And I’ll be honest, peeing visible blood sometimes is kind of terrifying. I was upset, not to mention in pain, after the test.
I don’t know if it’s because of borderline-personality disorder (BPD) or that I’m just generally wired as a big emotion person, but when I am upset, I am UPSET. And my return to emotional baseline is as slow as a snail. Marsha Linehan, the creator of Dialectical-Behavioral Therapy (DBT) has characterized this as a trait of people with BPD. It can take hours for me to get over something seemingly small. Sometimes, it can be days.
Later yesterday evening, my partner and I were discussing emotions generally, including my slow return to baseline. He mentioned “negative” emotions, so I brought up the question of if there even are “positive” or “negative” emotions. I’ve always been taught in therapy that emotions are just emotions, all are valid, and assigning labels only creates resistance and suffering. But that doesn’t mean I always truly believe or buy into this. There are definitely times that I have the thoughts that Emotions are stupid, especially sadness and anger. Why can’t I be happy all the time?
Similar to sadness, my happiness can be triggered by the smallest of external stimuli. Today, a new sweatshirt with American Girl Doll illustrations on it arrived in the mail. That alone, made me giddy. The thing about having BPD or big emotions though, is being happy all of the time would be almost as uncomfortable as being sad. This is because when I am happy, I am HAPPY. The sweatshirt didn’t just make me joyful; it made me almost painfully ecstatic for hours. Sometimes I am so happy, it’s frightening.
I’m more used to feeling these big emotions than I used to be, whether they are traditionally considered “positive” or “negative” emotions. But they can still be quite shocking when especially big or long-lasting ones come up.
As I’ve become more emotionally aware, I don’t as often see my high highs and low lows as a bad thing anymore. It can actually be quite beautiful to be capable of caring and loving so much. But that doesn’t mean it’s always comfortable to let myself ride them out. That’s what the emotions want though: to be honored and felt.