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Why Does Feeling Better Make Me Nervous?

October 6, 2020 Megan Griffith

Even though I've been working toward mental health recovery for years now, feeling better makes me nervous. I spent the past few months struggling harder than I have in quite a while, so I reached out to my psychiatrist, and he prescribed me a new medication. He said it should help prevent some of my suicidal ideation and give me more energy so I would be less overwhelmed by my life. There are so many things that can go wrong with new medications, but that didn't happen for me. It worked exactly like the doctor said it would. I feel much better, and that makes me nervous.

5 Reasons Feeling Better Makes Me Nervous

Emotions are complicated enough as it is, so when you have a mental illness like depression or attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) that messes with your emotional regulation, it gets even more complicated. Feeling better is good, but it comes with a bunch of other emotions as well, like fear, doubt, and anxiety. There are lots of reasons feeling better makes me nervous, but here are the top five:

  1. Feeling better has never lasted before. I have a lot of trouble feeling comfortable with myself when I'm not distressed because no matter what I do, my depression, anxiety, and trauma responses always come back. This makes it hard to trust my own good feelings.
  2. I don't know how to exist without depression. I have experienced depression for so long now, that when it isn't hanging over me, I'm not really sure who I am or how to exist in the world. It's like if you spent 10 years of your life carrying a five-pound weight and then one day someone took it away. You would feel off-balance and strange. That's how I feel when I feel better.
  3. It feels like maybe I was making the whole thing up. Luckily, this one has gotten better over the years, but it can still be a very distressing state of mind. If my depression can go away, just like that, maybe I was making it up the whole time. Those thoughts make it hard to actually enjoy feeling better.
  4. I'm worried I'll overdo it and feel bad again. I have so much more energy now that I'm feeling better, and I have so many things I want to do, but I keep holding myself back because I'm worried I'll overdo things and end up depressed again.
  5. Feeling better means I'm not allowed to struggle anymore. This is one of those thoughts that I know isn't true, but I have a hard time ignoring it. I struggle with black-and-white thinking, which is where everything is either one way or the other, no shades of gray or nuance. When I feel better, my black-and-white thinking tells me that means I'm officially better, so if I struggle with my mental health at all, in any way, I was never really better, and I was just being naïve and stupid.

How I Cope When Feeling Better Makes Me Nervous

To be totally honest, I don't have a lot of coping mechanisms for this feeling. To me, it feels like I so rarely feel better, I haven't had much of a chance to try different ways of coping with the negative feelings that come with recovery. But in reality, I think I have felt better quite a bit throughout my recovery journey. I just haven't focused on coping with these negative feelings because experiencing them at all felt like a personal failing on my part, like there was no way to fix it except to become a different, better person. 

So that's where I'm starting with my coping this time around. These feelings are natural for someone who has spent much of her life depressed and terrified of rejection or failure. I'm not a bad person; I'm just a person with struggles, like everyone else. I've found that being forgiving with myself is the first step to coping with almost anything.

How do you cope when feeling better makes you nervous? Have you experienced that before? Share your story with me in the comments below.

APA Reference
Griffith, M. (2020, October 6). Why Does Feeling Better Make Me Nervous?, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2020, October 24 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/recoveringfrommentalillness/2020/10/why-does-feeling-better-make-me-nervous



Author: Megan Griffith

Find Megan on Facebook, Tumblr and her personal blog.

Lizanne Corbit
October, 6 2020 at 8:41 pm

These are such beautifully honest shares. I am so glad to come across this post particularly because I think this is one of those topics people shy away from, but we are more familiar with it than many would like to admit. So often our anxiety can even be triggered by things feeling "too good", or so good it couldn't possibly last. When feeling better or feeling good begins to make us nervous the tactic of questioning our thoughts can be profoundly helpful. Do I know this to be true? Does thinking this make me feel better or worse? We ground ourselves back in the present moment and allow some space to breathe, and enjoy.

October, 7 2020 at 12:15 pm

Definitely! I think one of the most helpful coping strategies I've learned in therapy is asking myself whether a thought or behavior is helpful or unhelpful, and going from there.

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