I don't think I ever actively made the decision to start pretending away my emotions, I think it was more the natural consequence of needing to function during a time of enormous upheaval. It worked tremendously well for me, too. People who really should have known better were convinced that I fully had my shit together. Hell, some days even I was convinced I had my shit together. I'm not saying it was a horrible thing for me, at the time. I really needed to be able to take care of my kids, and if I'd been experiencing my emotions to the fullest I probably would have been sitting in a corner doing a jello impersonation for a few years.
The downside is that, once you get into the habit of pretending your emotions away, you start doing it all the time. And that sort of thing is simply not sustainable. When I refuse to be scared, there is an immediate and overwhelming reaction that hits me as soon as the danger is passed. The longer I've had to be calm, the bigger that reaction gets. There was inevitably going to be a huge reaction when the crisis was over and all the various feelings I'd been smooshing took their revenge.
And here we get to the part where I say "although I've just recently come to realize it, it turns out I've been dealing with depression for a really long time."
This is, perhaps, socially awkward of me to say. Depression is still slightly culturally shameful, plus lots of you know me and think I'm a pretty happy, upbeat person, and it will feel really odd to you to hear me say I've been depressed. I have considered both these things carefully, and here is my response to that:
Fuck it. It is what it is.
For those who will inevitably ask... yes. I'm doing better.
It's a process.
More on that tomorrow.