Expressing Our Negative Emotions to Find Positive Ones

Expressing Our Negative Emotions to Find Positive Ones
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I always hope to impart a positive message to my readers and exude joy in life whenever possible, but I also know it’s OK to be upset, even angry, at times. I have to face the peaks and valleys the same as anyone else, but I also have Duchenne muscular dystrophy on top of it all. 

Losing family and my dog and being forced to isolate because of COVID-19 have made this year difficult. Sometimes you have to let negative emotions out to save room for the positive ones, improve your mental health, and move forward from past experiences.

I feel a lot of pressure from no one in particular to hold my emotions in, to suffer in silence. I think it comes from feeling like I need to be in control and compensate for the lack of independence I have over my physical life. During sad movies, I force myself to hold in tears because I don’t like opening up to people. 

I have yet to pinpoint the specific reason why I don’t let my emotions out entirely, but I absolutely do not recommend being stoic at all times. The worst you can do is mask any internal struggle with toxic positivity, which prevents you from addressing the problem in the first place. When you build all that pressure inside, you are bound to explode, and letting out years of pent-up negativity at once may cause irreversible harm. 

Instead, as I’ve learned, we should let out our bursts of sadness, anger, grief, and heartbreak one at a time before it becomes too big of a problem to handle. We unload some of our feelings so we can make room for new, happy ones. This all seems simple, yet it’s not so easy to do. Each person has their own way of alleviating bottled-up emotion, whether that’s going to a punching bag, forgiving a friend, or having a good, long cry. 

Simply talking through a situation that elicits a negative emotional response helps me the most. I also have a spiritual component to it, too: giving up the problem to God through prayer. If I can’t solve it in a conversation, he can certainly take care of it. In each situation, I’m bringing in another person to help — whether it’s a shoulder to cry on or an ear to listen. Now, more than ever, we need to figure out how to offload those negative packages and return the positive ones. 

Doctors are preparing for a “second wave” of mental health issues because of the pandemic, and at-risk groups like us are more likely to be affected. I am, of course, no expert in mental health or ever plan to be one. But I can say the best thing we can do is get the internal feelings gnawing away at us out in the open so they don’t compound the continual difficulty of staying at home. 

Instead of masking over negative emotion, it’s time we let it out and prevent it from having control over us. I’m not advocating for us to constantly be sad or angry, but to be honest with ourselves, family, and friends. On the flip side, genuinely be happy for what you do have because life is precious and you don’t want to miss future moments of joy.

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Note: Muscular Dystrophy News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Muscular Dystrophy News or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to muscular dystrophy.

Hawken is a recent graduate from the University of Southern California and a young journalist with Duchenne muscular dystrophy. He has previously worked for the Washington Post, Sacramento Bee, KTLA 5 News and at USC Annenberg Media. When not writing columns, he’s reporting on rare disease-related news for the publisher of this website, BioNews.
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Hawken is a recent graduate from the University of Southern California and a young journalist with Duchenne muscular dystrophy. He has previously worked for the Washington Post, Sacramento Bee, KTLA 5 News and at USC Annenberg Media. When not writing columns, he’s reporting on rare disease-related news for the publisher of this website, BioNews.
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