"Forgotten How to Feel"
In the weeks following her transformation,
Hilla realized something important:
she had been in misery for so long
she'd largely forgotten how to feel
anything other than pain.
She could describe her physical symptoms
down to the last detail, but emotions
had become a foreign country.
Was that a stick or a snake?
Irritation or rage?
Pleasure was a thing of the past,
though she still pursued that elusive game
whenever she had the energy.
Was that a leaf or a flower?
Contentment or joy?
Hilla had come to rely upon
her friends in the pain-support group
to reflect her experiences back
and help her understand what
she was (or should be)
feeling at the moment.
Marco ... Polo!
She tried to return the favor,
but it was just as hard to figure out
what other people might be feeling,
and the more her body hurt,
the harder that got.
It was like walking through fog,
everything reduced to vague blobs
in a sea of unending grey.
And then it changed,
the fog burned away
by moonfire one night.
Hilla was caught up in
a dazzling array of emotions
as she ricocheted between
vigilance and amazement,
loathing and admiration,
grief and ecstasy,
rage and terror.
It was bad enough
in the middle of the month,
but as the moon waxed
it got even more intense,
like the worst PMS ever.
"You get used to it," Randie said.
"What?" Hill snapped.
"The feelings," said Randie.
"You feel everything,
but not all the time.
It has tides, like the moon."
Everything came back to the moon,
for werewolves, shaping their souls
as much as transforming their flesh.
So Hilla buckled down and studied
the coping skills for that, just like she did
with everything else in her clusterfuck of a life.
Randie helped her find resources.
Hilla read about alexithymia
and anhedonia and how to fix them.
She studied basic emotions
and how to identify them.
She bought a few games
and other materials for
learning about emotions.
She downloaded worksheets
for tracking her moods.
She explored ways of
coping with strong feelings.
She offered herself opportunities
to feel things and then noted
her responses to them,
keeping careful records.
Slowly Hilla began to feel
less overwhelmed and
more in control of herself.
She got reacquainted
with apprehension, surprise,
serenity, and acceptance.
The moon waxed and waned;
the pain came and went;
her emotions ran with
the tides like fish.
And it was better --
so much better --
than it had been.
* * *
Alexithymia is a kind of psychological numbness that makes it difficult or impossible to feel or identify emotions. It is associated with chronic pain. Group therapy and other treatments can help. Learn how to cope with alexithymia.
Anhedonia is the inability to feel pleasure, again often caused by chronic pain. There are ways to deal with anhedonia.
To cope with such mental challenges, offer yourself opportunities for pleasure. They don't have to cost much. Explore ways to enjoy yourself.
The basic emotions can be mapped onto a wheel that shows positive and negative sides. This may be enhanced by adding cartoon people showing their feelings. This version shows the extreme emotions.
Marco Polo is a game of tag that relies on verbal exchanges.
Premenstrual syndrome can cause miserable mood swings. Werewolves are prone to intense emotions and mood swings that follow the phases of the moon. Understand how to reduce PMS. Most werewolves do better supplementing their iron supply with raw red meat than with vitamin pills.
Psychological health benefits from knowing the basic emotions, along with how to identify and express them. Flash cards and other products can help. Here is a workbook for recognizing your feelings. Understand how to cope with strong feelings and teach people to handle their emotions.
Mood trackers are most associated with bipolar disorder and thus often focus on the high/low spectrum. This one uses simple faces to mark the prevailing mood for morning and afternoon through the weekdays, while this one ties feelings to a specific event. You can track moods online too.