I feel scared…concerned….insecure…startled…restless…fearful…panicky….shaken…

As I’ve begun learning about my mental illness and how it affects my life, I’ve started to look back through journals I’ve written in the past.  It’s interesting to see what I wrote in a different light and to see how far I’ve come. Also, it’s pretty hilarious to read about my past crushes—glad I ended up with Sidney.

Another huge benefit for me is that it sheds a bit of light on one of the questions I identified my previous post. “Why do children not share the extreme of their emotions with adults?” One reason for me was an inability to express my emotions.  Two phrases I see over and over in my journals are “It feels so dark in my body” and “I am losing control of my mind”.

I was never able to describe that feeling better—but instead wrote it over and over. I knew I was feeling awful, but I didn’t know how to express it. I would tell my parents, “I’m stressed” or “I’m sad”.  Or I’d cry and scream but was not able to explain why I was doing it. Or I’d give a reason I was crying, but it did not convey the intensity of the feeling.

One friend of mine tells a story of sitting on her front porch crying uncontrollably before school. Her dad promised her she wouldn’t have to go if she would only tell him what was wrong.  But she couldn’t. All she could say was “I’m sad”.

In therapy one of the first skills Rick and I worked on was learning to identify my emotions. Rick claims this was to help me, but I’m pretty sure that he was bored listening to the same conversation.

Rick: “How are you today?”

Nicole: “Anxious”
Rick: “Anything else?”
Nicole: “Sad”

After about three weeks of that, Rick introduced me to my feelings list.  I have a sheet of 100 feeling words that I am can use to identify in various situations. There are 30 words alone that go under the “anxious” category.  If they would put these words on the GRE I’d knock that out of the water! Instead there’s words like noxious.

We teach kids to write descriptive paragraphs about scenery, explain how to perform mathematical operations, support a thesis with detailed evidence…yet do we teach them to identify feelings? I’m not even sure how we would start to do this—after all, many adults are not good at it.  But I think it would be a big step towards helping kids manage their emotions!

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7 thoughts on “I feel scared…concerned….insecure…startled…restless…fearful…panicky….shaken…

  1. Hi, I think that’s a really good point about identifying feelings. And it’s somethhing I can often empathise with. Best wishes

  2. […] first blog post I read which has inspired this post is this one, titled “I feel scared…concerned….insecure…startled…restless…fearful…pan…” on the Riding the Wavez […]

  3. I think I’d like to get my hands on that feelings list! I am pretty stuck in the same six – sad, anxious, depressed, frustrated, annoyed, and occasionally, calm. I read this post this morning before I left for work and really took to heart the last paragraph. When I taught younger grades, I had a “feelings” poster in the room to help kids identify how they were feeling at the moment. I forget that older kids (and adults!) can benefit from that too, and wish I had that as a kid to learn to better express the “dark stuff” in my head. I pulled that poster back out today, and it will be making it’s way into our writing lessons soon!

    P.S. It’s quite a journey looking back through old journals, isn’t it? I am sometimes glad I have them, and sometimes wish I burned them! 20 years worth would make quite the bonfire!

    • Nicole says:

      I’m so glad that you are helping kids (and adults!) learn to express their emotions. So often we teach the younger ones the basics…”sad” “happy” “mad”. Yet for the normal child, there’s about a million more. And for the mentally ill child, there’s about a million more. I’ll try to scan that list in and post it–might be an interesting tool for the writing lessons.

      Re: PS. Yeah it’d be an amazing bonfire (and who doesn’t love roasting marshmallows) but I hope that looking through my journals will help me identify ways to help others! The only thing that makes it all worth it right?!

  4. I too am stuck with a lack of descriptors. My family gets, sad, anxious (we dare not say depressed) as the usual responses to, “Are you ok?”

    I think a list like would help. Sort of like the charts hospitals now have on their walls that have numbers to show your level of pain along with images of faces in various states, all so you can better express how much or little you hurt.

    Great idea.

    • Nicole says:

      Oh I love the chart idea!! That might be a great way to teach/help kids with emotions! A list is a great tool for adults and even older teens, but is impractical for kids. Hmmm…thanks for responding!

  5. surbhi says:

    seriously, even i m unable to describe my feelings aptly.. well said.. we need to identify our feelings..

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