Feelings Are Not Facts

Over a short period, my doctor saw me change significantly. My body was shrinking from an undiagnosed digestive disease that caused me to lose 110 pounds. My thoughts turned more positive as I filled my mind with only inspirational influences and media. My wardrobe changed from frumpy to stylish and borderline sexy, and I finally cut my hair after four years. Not only did I cut it, I actually washed and styled it instead of pulling my dirty, unwashed hair into a ponytail. Most importantly, I was constantly smiling.

Considering these changes, she decided it might be time to back off the cocktail of psych meds I had been taking for 20 years. Because this is not a decision to be taken lightly, she ordered a battery of psychological tests. My final diagnosis: major depressive disorder.

They would not drop the depression diagnosis because I had pain in my body, which to them, meant I was depressed. At the time, I was recovering from a total abdominal hysterectomy and was put on synthetic hormones, which caused high blood pressure, resulting in terrible headaches. I also have a metal plate and four screws in my neck from a cervical fusion. So yes, I have pain in my body. Does that mean I’m majorly depressed? Personally, I don’t think so.

I sent a letter to the head of the psychological testing unit explaining the above concerns and requested they remove the diagnosis from my chart. When I received the follow-up paperwork, I was upset by the response.

Essentially, it said that regardless of the marked progress I’ve made, I will continue to suffer from depression and have very little hope of a full remission.

Never mind, how I’m living my life or how I feel daily. Per the institutional stooges, history and genetics dictate that I will forever suffer from this DIS-EASE.

The night I received the letter, my son stopped by for dinner. When I asked him to fix my AppleTV. Which never seems to work right, he said he was going to teach me how to use it properly. I “kind of” freaked out and went off. My reaction was a misplaced response to his offer to teach me how to use it properly.

He appropriately pushed back and said, “Wow, I’m feeling your energy, and you’re giving me stuff that doesn’t belong to me. I get it. I’ll take it, but I know it’s not my stuff. What’s going on?”

I admire how wise he is. How incredibly different my life would be if I had that skill at his age. So much of my depression was the result of unknowingly taking on other people’s stuff. To be able to recognize when this happens, AND then not take it on, is a whole ‘nother kind of special! I’m so proud of him, his insight, and his ability to maintain his personal peace.

I’ve done much emotional work myself, but I did not start that work until I was 20 and living on my own (because seeing a psychiatrist or a therapist was not OK in my family). My son is blessed because he learned things at age 4 that I learned at age 28. So while my son is only 21 years old, his emotional maturity rivals that of people twice his age.

I promptly grabbed the letter from the institutional stooge and asked my son to read it. After reading it, he immediately came into my office and said, “Fuck them. These are just words on a page. This is not you! This is not how you live. You are so much better than this. They don’t know you! Don’t let these words dictate your feelings. Burn this shit. In fact, can I burn this?”

I responded, “Absolutely, my dear. Thank you. I love you.”

I am blessed. I appreciated the fact that my precious son took charge of the situation and made the decision to burn the words on a page for me. I’m not certain I would have had the courage or the bravery to do it myself. I felt protected and shielded by my son, and it was nice not to have to be the strong one for a change.

Feelings are not facts. Even when institutional stooges try to dictate them and document them as diagnoses. Only you know how you feel, and it’s important not to “take on” the energy of other people. Recognize when it’s happening and deflect it. Push it back if you can. At the very least, push it away from you to protect your peace!

melissa drake

About the Author | Melissa Drake

Melissa Drake is an editor, writer and coach. She’s a Truthteller for Women for One who has been featured in Elephant Journal, The Good Men Project, Thought Catalog and The SHFT Blog. She has a passion for words, writing, positive energy, and helping other people recover from Life’s Tough Transitions. After spending decades suppressed, repressed, and depressed, she’s found her voice and wants to help others do the same. Following the loss of both parents, she walked away from a high-powered corporate job to pursue a life filled with passion, meaning, laughter and dancing. Connect with her on her website (https://www.brillianttransformations.com) or on Facebook at "Brilliant Transformations by Melissa Drake". She also has a closed group for individuals experiencing Life’s Tough Transitions that includes positive daily messaging. Request membership by searching "My Brilliant Transformation" on Facebook. You can also follow Melissa on Instagram @brillianttransformations and on Twitter @1BrilliantTrans.

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17 comments to "Feelings Are Not Facts"

  • Terrell Washington Anansi

    Inspiritationals strory.

  • Terrell Washington Anansi

    I meant inspiritional story…it touched the fibers of my soul’s knowing.

  • I love this! A label should not define you, ever. It’s what I hate the most about Western medicine – their need to slap a label on you. I hear so many horrible stories from clients who, by being given these labels, lose hope. Ugh. Good for you for trusting what you feel and setting fire to that piece of paper! Love you!

    • Thank you Laura. After living with the “depression” label along with “crazy, anxious, ADHD,, suicidal” and many others, I was happy to shed them and replace them with “Joyous, inspirational, passionate, driven, empathetic,” and many other much more positive labels that more correctly define the way I actually LIVE my life. I certainly wouldn’t have had the courage to burn the pages without the support of my son (nor would I have thought of it). He is my rock. As is my best friend and neighbor who was with me when they delivered the “results” of the tests to me. I’m grateful to have such great people in my life, including you. Thank you for your support. Love you too!

  • I like to say that labels are for pickle jars, files, and condiments. Human beings are far too complex for a single label to fit them. We label so that we can dismiss others and categorize them. It’s the left brain being lazy and wanting to move on already rather than accept the beautiful and incredible complexity of the human condition.

    Like you, my son is miles ahead of me on the journey because he was learning at age 4 what I was learning at age 24. We did what we were supposed to do – we fought our demons so that we could give our children a better, brighter future than the one we were given. That’s an accomplishment!

  • You are absolutely right, Brandy! I heard a quote recently about transforming so we don’t transmit. We heal ourselves so we don’t pass our crap down another generation. As we heal ourselves, we heal our children. Our children heal us too.

    It’s no small feat to defeat our demons and it’s an ongoing battle. Unfortunately we never really “graduate” from healing or recovery. There are continual lessons to learn. Thankfully our children have fewer, yet different lessons to learn.

    I appreciate your support and wisdom. Thank you!

  • Randy Witke

    Melissa, I am like almost everyone. At times, I feel helpless. Reading your reflections and knowing JD is the good helper he is, gives me focus on my own existence.

    • Hi Randy. Thanks for reading and commenting. Depression is hard. Very sneaky and dark. Also something not everyone understands or recognizes. I’m sorrry you feel helpless at times. Johnathan has proven to be a big help, not only to me, but many others in “our” family. He’s not the only helper though. Help comes in so many unexpected ways when we are open to it. Let’s see if we can commit that boy and schedule that dinner we were talking about, sooner, rather than later. Sound like a plan? Sending love and blessings your way.

  • Melissa.. this is so true!! After suffering from dark bouts of depression myself, I understand how debilitating it can be..but in those dark moments, it does kinda feel like there’s a part of you that knows these feelings aren’t the true “you”.. there’s a bigger, brighter, more loving you inside, you just don’t know how to “express” it because the feeling in your body is soooo heavy!!.. I often say, the gap between what our body is telling us and what our soul is saying, is depression..because our soul wants to go one direction and the body just isn’t buying it just yet.. ha ha.. hopefully the body catches up, coz as I’ve experienced, when it does, life becomes MAGICAL! EEEEeee..much magic to you! Oxoxox

    • Yes, you’re absolutely right. My body was also literally heavy from the additional energy and weight from carrying the burdens of others and repressing and suppressing my truth. I was truly “bogged down” with everyone else’s shit that I took on as my own by failing to establish boundaries, express my feelings instead of “stuffing” them and absorbing energy and pain from others instead of deflecting it to protect my peace like my son does so beautifully.

      The good thing is, I’m learning. I appreciate that you’re one of the great mentors who is helping me to get there. Thank you for supporting me as I continue to heal, grow and evolve. I have so much love and respect for you!

  • Stacey Korock

    Very inspiring! I actually have a lot of internal health issues I battle myself every day, and some since I was born. Nothing is more frustrating than a doctor or someone telling you, that’s not how you should feel, or that you have control over it (when clearly you don’t and never have) or that things are fine and you know, and you can feel that they are not. It is very hard some days to control or even understand your own feelings, so how on earth can anyone else understand? I empathic with you, admire your strength, and just love John’s personality and his positive attitude. He’s a great kid, because you’re a great mother!

  • Thank you so much, Stacey! We truly have to be our own advocate (with doctors and in all situations) because we are the only ones who judge our situations—as you well know.

    I was surprised to learn that I had more control over my depression than I thought. After being “in the system” for more than 20 years, I was fully convinced my “brain chemistry” required psych meds for the rest of my life. Thankfully, that isn’t the case for me. My recovery began with a healthy dose of self love. You can read more about my Brilliant Transformation at bit.ly/Brilliant SelfLove.

    And John, yeah…he’s the best kid ever. I just made a post last weekend wondering how he got to be so positive when he grew up with a mother who was so depressed throughout his life. However, it was the grace of God and the support of our friends and family that brought us to this point. It truly takes a village and I had a lot of support in raising him. We are infinitely blessed.

    Sending love and blessings your way too. Best wishes with your health issues. Don’t ever stop advocating for yourself.

  • DeBonis Karen

    What an amazing son you have raised!! And what an awesome transformation you have had. You are not their words, you are your own beautiful reality.

    • Melissa Drake

      Thank you so much, Karen! My son is my proudest achievement and my most beautiful reality. I really appreciate you taking the time to leave a comment. It means so much to me, and my son. I hope it’s ok for me to share your kind words.

  • Zoe Bell

    A powerful and inspirational story Melissa! The only place for labels is on bottles and containers, and even then the proof is on what’s inside. There needs to a balance between Western and Eastern medicine, and to truly listen to the individual. The ‘Band-Aid’ approach is increasing at an alarming rate, what a great son you have to the real support and realness of life that you needed at the time. Not to forget your own instinct, that is on fore! It’s sad how many people give their power away just because a person has DR in their title. Inspirational as always, I Love you.

    • Melissa Drake

      Thank you, Zoe. I appreciate your feedback and agree 100%. Because I was so numb for so long, I wasn’t tapped into my own instincts. Once I did though, the power to heal was overwhelming and beautiful. There’s always more healing to be done, but now I’m approaching it from a completely different place. For this, I’m grateful. Love you so much!