Earlier this evening, I started crying while on the phone with my boyfriend, for reasons I couldn’t articulate either to him or to myself.
Jared handled it pretty well. He apologized for having insulted Love Actually, which wasn’t why I was crying, but I’ll take the bonus apology anyway, as it was a pretty serious offense.
Eventually, we decided to put the conversation on pause and give me some time to deal with my surprise case of feelings.
I made some hot chocolate, and as I sipped it, I wrote down a list of all the most likely explanations for why I was feeling sad. I noted which reasons were causing me to cry the most, spent a few minutes crying some more about them, and then finished my hot chocolate and spent some time looking through my favorite knitting patterns on Ravelry.
By the time Jared called me back, I wasn’t exactly chipper, but I wasn’t crying anymore, and I didn’t feel sad.
One of the most simultaneously frustrating and delightful things about small children is their extremity of emotions. They get so excited about things we’ve forgotten to care about, but become distraught over, say, not being allowed to put more salt on their blueberries (true story).
While I would not describe my emotions as childish, I do think that I might be a bit more emotional than the average adult. I mean, who knows, maybe I’m not. It’s not something I see people discussing a lot, so I guess I can’t really know for sure. But I cry at the drop of hat (though usually only briefly—except for that time I went to see War Horse and cried non-stop for nearly an hour), and I also become very excited about fairly trivial things.
But still, I’m an adult, and I’m healthy, and I have tools to deal with my emotions. Tools that sometimes look like hot chocolate and knitting patterns.
My sister did not have those tools. My sister, who is no longer living, started using drugs and alcohol at a very young age. She was eventually diagnosed with bipolar disorder. When I think about my own mood swings, I wonder what life must have felt like for her, with even more intense emotions and no healthy strategies for coping with them.
I’m grateful for my emotions, because for every time I cry, there are so many more moments when I’m overjoyed by life. I’m grateful that I have healthy ways to cope with my emotions when they are negative, and supportive people in my life who are always there for me.
I wish my sister could have had a better relationship with her own emotions, but I’m grateful that she’s no longer suffering. It can be hard to relate to people with mental health problems, sometimes, because we often don’t have a way of understanding what they’re going through, and I often felt frustrated with her “immaturity” while she was alive. I can’t change the past, but I hope that her memory will help me to show compassion and patience toward others in the future.