Today I’m reflecting on the many patients I have worked with and continue to work with that express how their past experiences, thoughts, emotions and feelings impact and converge upon the present day in their lives. Patients report that things seemed to be going fairly well and then they hit a wall, or felt immobilized, not able to function in their daily lives. This is not uncommon, especially if the past experiences were emotionally challenging and or traumatic.
The past is physically in the past however the emotions are internalized and stay with you, and when you are going about your daily lives, these emotions can get stirred up and can feel overwhelming. It doesn’t mean that you will necessarily know what is happening to yourself at the time, (an unconscious process) you might just feel tired, stressed, depressed, and unable to function much, some patients call in sick and report feeling as though they cannot give anything more of themselves. The unconscious motivates you at times to do impulsive things that are not helpful, and afterwards you mights ask yourself, why did I do that? That is the part of us that is hidden, internalized and needs to be talked about and integrated with the present.
This brings me to another very important point, taking care of yourself. Many people are so good at helping others, and they take pride in it too, but they have not learned how to take care of themselves. They are very accomplished, can take on great challenges and keep on going, like the ever-ready bunny. As the years pass, not taking care of yourself does catch up with you, the old way of just pushing through things doesn’t work any longer and you feel the stress and depression in a new way.
Integrating the past and present is a journey, and it helps you not to feel as scattered, overwhelmed, depressed. It takes time, emotional work, commitment, and determination, think of it as a giving to yourself.