Sometimes You Have To Feel Worse

By Michael Mitchell

As someone living with a bipolar disorder, I often am misunderstood by people who can’t understand that they don’t understand. My explanations often come across as complaints. Their sympathy and “do-this-to-fix-it” advice are impulsive, and unnecessary. One friend said, “I hear St. John’s Wort works well for depression. Have you tried that?” Another friend constantly suggests a variety of things he’s gathered from the likes of Tony Robbins and other notable self-help heavyweights. He can’t understand that when I’m in the midst of a depression I can’t just snap out of it, and I could not have avoided it. Perhaps you know about this all too well.

My life changed not only when I learned that I had a mood disorder, but when I grasped the harsh reality that, in essence, my brain’s way of communicating with me is often distorted. When I look back through my life, I can see times of recklessness where death could have happened in an instant, without my brain so much as even whispering, “Danger.” Instead, it ensured my eyes were focused on enjoying the excitement. Yet, at other times, where a situation’s positive outcome was almost certain, it prepared laundry lists of losing situations – complete with over-analysis, sending me into the Alps of anxiety from the top down.  

Jacob, a young man whom I’ve helped over the years said, “Mike, sometimes the anxiety of screwing up is actually worse than the certainty of it. To the point that I’ll sabotage myself by getting drunk to kill the anxiety, and deal with the familiarity of going into work late and hung-over the next day.” I understood that sometimes his depression, anxiety, and overall self-loathing was so bad that getting severely intoxicated was his way to cope. It was Jacob who said, “Sometimes the only way to feel better is to feel worse.”

Prior to understanding mood disorders, addiction, and the like, I had a lot in common with Jacob. But since learning about my condition, I’ve found better ways of “feeling worse” than some of Jacob’s behaviors that I used to identify with. One of which, that I was totally uninterested in initially, has since helped me dramatically.

Through psychotherapy, I was able to deal with my feelings, my guilt and shame, my addictions, my troubled childhood, my impulsiveness, my irritability, and all the things I would rather not remember. I learned to understand the word “emotion” (energy in motion) and comprehend the different frequency that guilt and shame creates in humans, especially in contrast to joy and love. Letting it all out on several different occasions has been painfully detoxifying. But when it comes to dealing with the symptoms of mental illness, it’s been much better for me than the old ways I shared with Jacob. And although at times it can be confronting, it hurts less than the repercussions of substance abuse. And sometimes the only way to feel better…is to feel worse.

Michael Mitchell 2

Michael Mitchell is a certified personal trainer who specializes in nutrition, supplements and natural methods of improving health and wellness. Having experienced and overcome many obstacles associated with mental health and addiction, he is committed to inspiring people through his own example. His first book, Drug Free June: A Hypomanic Episode, is soon to be published.

Share Button

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Time limit is exhausted. Please reload CAPTCHA.