The Pain of Feeling Too Much

As I write this I am unsure of what the title of this piece is going to be. I have too many thoughts going on that I need to write them out first to find the best way to explain them as a whole.

I have always been described as ‘soft’ or ‘sensitive’ growing up. I always would cry over little things as a kid. I had difficulties, and still to do to an extent now, standing up for myself. My mum taught me to stand up for myself and not to be afraid to, but I always have been.

But, I am incredibly shy and quiet by nature, until I feel comfortable enough around a person. I also find it incredibly difficult to deal with confrontation, mostly if confrontation involves shouting. I completely shut down, I can’t get any words out or process anything without bursting into tears, and then I end up kicking myself afterward for not being able to say the words I need to.

I have also found that I feel a lot. Now, this doesn’t necessarily just mean my own emotions, it is also the emotions of others and the world. By this I mean, if a friend or loved one is hurting I will feel that hurt, even if I am okay. Seeing the news and the work I do in terms of talking and campaigning when I can about free speech, censorship, apostasy laws etc. I see all of this pain and chaos in the world, and I feel it.

Sometimes it gets too much and I have to switch off for a couple of days. But, in the world, we are living in, and the nature of my job and the stories I am passionate about telling, it is very difficult to do that. Then I end up with so many different emotions that I don’t have the time or space to process my own. In the old ‘functioning’ world, I was okay and able to deal with these two aspects because my day-to-day life was pretty stable, so that grounded me.

But now with this lack of grounding, all of these emotions began to take a toll on my physical health, which really made me feel like I have no control over anything. It is truly a scary thing to see your body fighting against you because I was used to my mind doing that and was pretty good at bringing my mind back to itself. Trying that with the body, however, is very difficult.

I have had weeks of intense nightmares that have had me woken up in shakes, sweats, and paralysis of the upper body. All because of a perceived threat, now these kinds of physical pains from anxiety are easier to deal with in the day or when there is a known trigger. But, when it's from a nightmare, which I end up forgetting in the midst of the physical distress it's difficult to regain that control and trust in the body again.

My therapist (weird to say because it is all very new) completely validated my feelings without making me feel like I was ‘crazy’ for saying that I was worried whether I would survive the year because how long can the human body be under that amount of stress. Because really how much can it take?

Especially, when I have tried all kinds of sleep routine stuff from meditation to slow music and sleep podcasts. They help me drift off, but they don’t stop the constant waking up. I have a few new things to try out, such as muscle relaxation techniques, which I have to say work in the daytime too when I am tensed out from work. Slowly, sleep has improved but the whack-a-doo dreams have not, and yes whack-a-doo because I literally had a dream of purple round birds playing football with my body in the sky.

Despite all of this, I would not change the levels of sensitivity and feelings I have because as much as I feel the terribly awful things in the world. I feel all of the good things intensely, and those feelings can be euphoric. Yes, it does mean somedays I might not be able to check the news or I can’t watch certain tv shows or films because the intensity is too much for me to cope with somedays and it does mean when my heart breaks it will break much harder than some.

But, for all of that I get all of the equally good feelings, like spending a few hours with my friends leaves me on a high to a simple day out with myself to a coffee shop writing poetry and prose to the feelings of falling in love being so intense I don’t realise it until it presents itself in the written form. It’s a place where I get a lot of creativity out of, from feeling too much.

It is just right now the world makes it a difficult place for feeling too much, and in all of that pain, I still hold out hope for a better future because it what keeps me alive.




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Saff Khalique

Saff Khalique

why medium? a place to post personal essays discussing mental health, religion, spirituality and body image.

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