There are varying levels of emotional suppression. There’s the extreme on the scale being a psychosis where someone essentially “blacks out” the memory altogether, but the more common emotional suppression is the willing suppression. Though very common as a coping mechanism, little effort has really been put into exploring the consequences. You may see it happening with a relative who just lost their spouse, but they have to function because they have young children. You may have experienced it yourself.
Emotional suppression is typically triggered by emotional trauma, such as a death of a loved one. It can be triggered by anything a person perceives as a trauma, however, so if someone is not of stable mind to start with, trauma incurred from difficulty completing a mere task such as making the bed can bring about this mechanism. The demise of a relationship and a vicious attack are also major triggers. The consequences can be just a debilitating no matter how small or great the cause.
You may function at work perfectly well, but at home, you are emotionally unavailable to your kids; you know, the ones you’re struggling to function for? You may work well short- term, but if you get stuck in this mode of survival, depression and physical pain will rob you of any concept of attendance. Most people only function through the fog short- term, however, but these people usually have received proper counseling and have a strong support system.
Have you experienced a loss or a break up or anything else emotionally traumatic? Have you developed a mysterious string of symptoms that no doctor can properly diagnose? You may be trapped inside one of your own survival mechanisms. A short list of chronic symptoms:
Depression, tight muscles, joint pain, headaches, sleeping disturbances, rashes, tooth aches, and fatigue.
These symptoms can be any number of other medical issues, so you should always consult a doctor and rule out other possible conditions first. Once you’ve done this and are still not feeling well, there’s a good chance you are in emotional suppression and you need to make the efforts to break free. Start by seeking out a good counselor. If you do not believe in this type of therapy or are embarrassed, you can enlist a trusted friend or relative to simply let you “vent”. And vent you must.
You must shake loose all the shackles that hold you back from properly grieving. By this, it is not implied that you need to leave behind your job or your family, instead, you need to get their support. What shackles you need to let go – the mentality that you cannot, should not, will not grieve. Sit and have a real good cry, a couple of times. Scream and shout in an empty room. Listen to aggressive music then suddenly switch to something soft and nostalgic. Write your feelings in a journal about what happened to you. As long as you are digging up the past and dealing with it in a safe manner, there’s nothing to be ashamed of.
Breaking free of this mechanism can be dangerous – after all, you are basically re-breaking a bone so that it heals properly, there’s going to be pain. You have put layers upon layers of dust, by this point, on top of the issue. Since you need to revisit emotions from your past, it is advised that you do seek counseling and the support of your family. Once you face your hurt, you will go through the normal grieving process; your symptoms will seem to get worse before they get better, but you will HEAL. It’s a long and slow process, have patience.
My personal experience: I was “sick” for nearly eight years. I was handed the vague, catch-all diagnosis and given depression medication. Nothing the doctors tried ever helped and no test they conducted ever showed much of anything. I had all but given up. Then, I started to face my past. Some people said I was living in the past and I needed to stop it, but I didn’t listen. I kept at it until I broke open the wound again. I regretted it immediately, but my recovery started right then and there. I’m not 100% yet, and it is possible that I may never recover all the way. I hope I can help someone else break free of this condition, because no doctor has ever offered real advice; they don’t even acknowledge this. Good luck.