I’ve been feeling good which has been an unusual feeling, especially as last week I was nearly admitted to a psychiatric ward. But is it happiness I’m feeling? What else could it be?
There are many different definitions of happiness. These include phrases such as feeling joy or contentment. These definitions all seem very abstract to me. How do I know from this if what I feel is happiness?
DBT (Dialectical Behavioural Therapy) teaches us how to identify emotions as part of emotional regulation. I guess the idea being that in order to regulate your emotions, you first need to know what you’re feeling. Identifying feelings/emotions has always been a weak point of mine. Most of the time I can say an emotion is either good or bad. I might be able to describe what it feels like in my body but not always successfully. It is something I’ve been trying to work on and DBT has some skills that are useful to help with this.
As part of my DBT skills therapy we were given a booklet of about 10 pages identifying the core emotions and how to recognise them. It covers different ways of identifying the feelings from looking at physical reactions to situations where it has arisen. It is a useful guide but very chunky and not ideal for carrying around with you. This means working out how to react at the time is difficult.
But back to whether what I’m feeling is happiness. It’s hard to tell. It seems to start out as a feeling of great energy. I feel I can do what I want to do and nothing will stop this. I have energy. My appetite fluctuates. I’m trying hard to make jokes and make people smile. I’m trying desperately to look after people. And then it becomes irritable.
In my mind this isn’t happiness. It doesn’t seem to fit with the feelings that are linked to happiness. There are no obvious events linked to these feelings. None of it fits. So what is this?
Some people would call this a kind of mania. There are similarities. But to me it is a high. It might be fleeting or it may last longer. This time it’s lasted a few days and is dwindling. The irritability has definitely kicking in. For someone with BPD this can happen. A huge mood change, from one extreme to another. It can be exhausting to live with.
For help with identifying emotions these worksheets may help. It’s a skill that can be worked on and is definitely something I am still working on.