April 2, 2009 2:26 AM   Subscribe

What do you do when it hurts so much that every second feels like forever, and every beat of your heart is sheer agony?

Emotional pain, not physical... although I know that emotional pain can hurt physically.

I'm not asking what you should do. What do you do?
posted by keep it under cover to Health & Fitness (39 answers total)

This post was deleted for the following reason: I'm sorry you're having a bad time, but as presented this is pretty much chatfilter. -- cortex

I think about killing myself. I make plans.
I investigate escape.

This is what I do do.
Not what I should.

What I should do is
make more meaningful social connections.
Call some friends up.
Visit my mom.
Eat more.
Sleep more.
Drink less.

posted by Sully at 2:42 AM on April 2, 2009 [1 favorite]

It used to be I'd drink heavily and self-mutilate. Now I just drink heavily and play Xbox, it's heaps better, plus you get Achievements.
posted by turgid dahlia at 2:47 AM on April 2, 2009 [16 favorites]

I seek out that feeling, examine it to see how it actually feels, and I make room for it in my body. Then I do some relaxation exercises and use some defusion techniques and I accept that to have a rich and full life, I need to experience pain.
posted by b33j at 3:08 AM on April 2, 2009 [3 favorites]

Drink to be able to sleep, Pick up smoking again, Listen to weird music.
posted by HFSH at 3:08 AM on April 2, 2009

I see some terrible advice here. Drinking will make your problems worse. Find a psychiatrist as soon as possible. Book a holiday to the sun. Pack your days full of healthy, busy, busy, busy stuff that you enjoy, preferably in the company of people you love and trust. Don't be alone.
posted by NekulturnY at 3:13 AM on April 2, 2009 [1 favorite]

Sometimes I'd imagine painful scenarios, like my parents dying in a horrific accident, something like that, and would build up and focus the pain on that mock scenario until I just burst and I felt nothing anymore. Similarly, I'd listen to the saddest, most emotion-amplifying music I could find, riding out the emotional wave until I just crashed into numbness.

I also used to self-mutilate, which for me was the quickest way to dissipate the pain - I'm NOT recommending it, it's not a healthy thing to do as often as I did, but you asked, so I'm giving you an honest answer.

The most long-lasting helpful thing I did (cue preachy-talk) was focus on where the pain was coming from. And I tried to fix that. It worked - my 'fix' was to condition myself to react less and become more detached from everything (and everyone) so nothing would affect me as badly ever again. Maybe not a very healthy fix, but it was the best I could do at the time. It cleared my head at least and allowed me to look at my own situation (which was still shitty, but not as emotionally painful!) with a calmer heart.
posted by parjanya at 3:24 AM on April 2, 2009

NekulturnY - the OP explicity asked for facts, not advice.

For me, it's distraction - sometimes that takes the form of a couple sick days in front of some really mindless TV, sometimes it's booze.
posted by ersatzkat at 3:29 AM on April 2, 2009

the OP explicity asked for facts, not advice

in that case: lie in bed, wallow in self pity, try to freeze time, eat junk food, take the most melancholy aria I can find in Mozarts or Verdi's collected works and put it on 'repeat this track' for a fortnight
posted by NekulturnY at 3:40 AM on April 2, 2009 [2 favorites]

Build stuff in Second Life. Chain smoke. Take long walks early in the morning. Write truely heinous poetry.
posted by sleep_walker at 3:45 AM on April 2, 2009

What do you do?

I try to let wallow in the feelings for a while and then I try to get past it because it's what I should do, move on, 'cause life is too short to be miserable all the time.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 3:55 AM on April 2, 2009 [1 favorite]

I do the "depression triathlon". Stuff my big friggin fat face. Beer. Sleep.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 4:01 AM on April 2, 2009 [1 favorite]

posted by valkyryn at 4:21 AM on April 2, 2009

I bottle it up and drink too much, smoke too much, sleep too much and don't eat enough.
posted by LiquidKarma at 4:22 AM on April 2, 2009

Well, happily, it's been a while. But at the time: literally howled with rage and pain and grief; slid down the closed door of my flat til I hit the floor, curled into the foetal position and sobbed for hours, consumed hurt and fear; stayed inside, in bed, for entire weekends; neglected to shower, brush my teeth or get dressed for days; slept with the light and TV on so I wouldn't be alone; tortured myself by revisiting the source of my distress again, and again and again; dragged myself through the days like a hollow-eyed grief-stricken zombie; popped pills and stuffed myself with junk food to numb the pain at night; ate myself four dress sizes bigger in about three months; cried myself to sleep every night for years; drove my friends mad with tormented phone calls where I asked why, why, why, WHY, God, WHYYYYYYYYY me; convinced myself, deep, deep down that it was indeed all my fault; refused to let it go or to move on in general. Christ, it hurt.

Then eventually: moved to another city far from the heartbreak; worked part time for about a year so I could concentrate on getting well; got counseling; got better. That took a while though.
posted by t0astie at 4:37 AM on April 2, 2009

In reverse order of healthiness: drink too much wine, go into an internet click trance day after day, get lazy and eat out a lot, oversleep, put on my iPod and go for long walks.
posted by exquisite_deluxe at 4:43 AM on April 2, 2009

I used to drink a lot, seeking numbness. I made one serious attempt at suicide, thankfully thwarted. These days I try to squash my negative thoughts and immerse myself in activities I enjoy, such as making music.
posted by Nick Jordan at 4:45 AM on April 2, 2009



Wake up feeling better.
posted by Xany at 4:45 AM on April 2, 2009 [1 favorite]

Unlike most of the posters, I don't think drinking helps. Instead, I force myself out of the house, into an activity -- get to the gym, or to a martial arts school, or something where there's enforced socialization. Focusing on other people takes the self-pity away.
posted by ellF at 4:47 AM on April 2, 2009

I see some terrible advice here.

Not relevant.
posted by turgid dahlia at 4:50 AM on April 2, 2009

Stop sleeping, stop eating, start smoking again, go for long walks that don't particularly lead anywhere, contemplate suicide, punish myself for contemplating suicide. Eventually I discover new things on my long walks to nowhere and these things start to distract me and I forget to punish myself more and more and then, "hey, why is this woman talking to me? She doesn't seem to have figured out what a bad person I am, boy have I got her fooled! Let's see how long I can milk it!" and several years later after my neurosis has finally driven either her or me out of our shared apartment we are back at the beginning again.
posted by Pollomacho at 4:57 AM on April 2, 2009 [1 favorite]

Well, asking what we do sounds like chatfilter.

That being said I just ride it through.
posted by Fairchild at 4:58 AM on April 2, 2009

I try very, very hard to engage in things other than feeling bad, even if it's only reading or crafting or (literally) walking to the end of a road I've never walked down before or sitting by the sea listening to a podcast - even if just to have something other than pain to talk about. Small tasks with achievable aims chip away at the idea that everything is wrong.

I haven't had the emotional form to that extreme an extent in a long time (and when I did, making a decision to let someone help me - a friend or a professional - helped provide at least a chance of a glimmer of hope that it might change) but am pretty familiar with the physical equivalent, and fighting hard to engage with the world is usually enough to gradually swing my mind back around to balanced perspective. I'm not accidentally using 'hard' repeatedly to describe the process.
posted by carbide at 5:16 AM on April 2, 2009

I see some terrible advice here.

Not relevant.

That's funny -- I thought the whole purpose of AskMetafilter was to give people advice.
posted by Jaltcoh at 5:16 AM on April 2, 2009

Listen to music that you like. First listen to the stuff that let's you wallow in your sorrow. It's cathartic. It's good. But make sure you don't stay there too long. Make sure you eventually move on to music that'll help you move on and be happy.

Go for walks. Exercise and sweat because of it. Your brain will produce endorphins and make you feel good for it.

Start learning meditation. Then practice it.

Write about your feelings. In a diary. On a blog where friends and family or no-one at all can read about it. Just write about how you feel and other stuff. It'll help you explore who you are, where you are and will help you learn how to get past this point.

If you're a happy drunk, drink, but do it with friends. If you're an angry or sad drunk, don't drink, but still hang out with friends.

Keep in touch with your family.

And as xany said, cry, sleep and wake up feeling better.

Good luck.
posted by Effigy2000 at 5:18 AM on April 2, 2009

I obtained Pointycat. Having someone else to care for helped me through a bad time.
posted by pointystick at 5:22 AM on April 2, 2009 [3 favorites]

I mope until it goes away after 4-5 hours. Also driving around. Generally I find regular writing attenuates such slumps.
posted by norabarnacl3 at 5:24 AM on April 2, 2009

Hulu + Conceptis = days of distraction from both physical and psychological pain
posted by hydropsyche at 5:48 AM on April 2, 2009 [1 favorite]

It depends. If there is an element of anger involved, then I cry, slam a few cabinet doors and then I start cleaning. The more intense the agony and the deeper the anger, the more organized and sparkling my home becomes. However, if the anger is not there and I'm just prone to cry, binge on comfort foods, sleep and let my house totally go to crap. The house getting swamped just makes me feel worse and makes coming out of it all a much longer, slower, more painful process.

I don't drink or smoke when I'm in agony. I don't smoke at all. While I do frequently enjoy a drink, I won't allow myself to when I'm miserable.
posted by onhazier at 5:50 AM on April 2, 2009

posted by Uther Bentrazor at 6:03 AM on April 2, 2009

Lay in bed with my husband holding me, and cry. Then sleep.

Eventually, drag myself out of bed, shower, and take a walk. Seeing other living things - flowers, birds, squirrels - makes all the difference for me.
posted by desjardins at 6:09 AM on April 2, 2009 [1 favorite]

There is no good or right answer to this. The "healthy" thing to do is feel your pain, until you are done feeling it. To go through it for a period of time, and then figure out how to move on. Some people cope by drinking, and it works for them. For me, drinking makes me feel more depressed.

I listen to music. I try to spend time with close friends. I go to a therapist. I immerse myself in something, right now it is work.

Then, when I am ready to be done with feeling the pain, I go to the gym, go outside, cook, socialize. I do things that I love.
posted by E-Boogie at 6:10 AM on April 2, 2009

You mean like yesterday?

Cry. Take the norco. Sleep. More norco.
(It still fucking hurts today, just not quite as bad.)
posted by Drasher at 6:16 AM on April 2, 2009

While I do frequently enjoy a drink, I won't allow myself to when I'm miserable.

That's a good point, as stated above, I am a bit neurotic and tend to blame myself for, well, anything and i tend to punish myself for these (irrationally labled) misdeeds. Drinking allows an escape, but in my nerosis escape is not permitted. Therefore drinking, drugging, and suicide (or actually working though problems) are not options. I must feel the hurt.

Hmm, maybe this is something I should be sharing with my therapist. If this question was a "misery loves company" type question, then maybe you should to.
posted by Pollomacho at 6:16 AM on April 2, 2009

This is what cigarettes and booze were made for. For me, cigarettes have always been my escape, like an old friend. I rationalize that it's okay, because I usually don't have trouble stopping when my problems go away (or diminish, at least).

Sleeping is also good, as is playing computer games. Eating? Meh, it's overrated.
posted by Simon Barclay at 6:16 AM on April 2, 2009

Oh, and going out and meeting someone for a one-night stand (combined with booze and cigarettes). This will only "help" if you don't have an SO; otherwise, it makes things a hell of a lot worse.
posted by Simon Barclay at 6:18 AM on April 2, 2009

This is what "worked" -- worked as in I haven't killed myself. None of this stuff made me happier, but at least I haven't made my fiance come home to a dead woman on his kitchen floor. Noticeably absent on this list is "talk to my therapist" -- because bitching at someone who nods and waits for me to keep talking has never been helpful for me ever.

When I was unemployed and depressed as fuck and unable to go anywhere other than the drugstore a block away, I'd wake up around noon or 1 and play World of Warcraft until I went to bed around 2 a.m. It was total escapism: I got to be someone who was tall, well-respected, well-liked and totally useful.

Effexor made me forget pretty much everything except a very basic outline of the past 20 years or so, and I didn't get that knowledge back after stopping (I guess the PTSD probably also helped). Not being able to remember the little things I used to dwell on helps. Maybe that's why ECT is so successful.

I used to self-injure a lot, but it was so exhausting to make the effort to hide it. It made/makes my boyfriend upset, so I don't do it anymore.

Now I blame the patriarchy for my problems, cry, drink and daydream about beating the shit out of people. I scream, throw things and kick walls when I'm alone in the office - the neighbors must love me.
posted by giraffe at 6:21 AM on April 2, 2009

I avoid drink, being alone, and music not written by the B-52's. Because to deal with my depression I would drink, be alone, and listen to Nick Drake or the like. And that got me no where good and it kept me there longer.

It is getting nice outside. Go for a jog. Play with a dog. Stop thinking of new ways to describe your misery and stop pretending life is all shit.
posted by munchingzombie at 6:27 AM on April 2, 2009 [1 favorite]

Generally I blame it on my mother, just like she blamed it on her mother (until she got the last word by authorizing electroshock on her mother and turning her into a vegetable), just like probably my grandmother blamed it on her mother, (and certainly like the grandmother blamed the oldest child when the mother wasn't convenient) - etc. Seems to be the common response to trauma among the firstborns (on my mother's side ;) )
posted by peter_meta_kbd at 6:30 AM on April 2, 2009

Honestly? I remind myself other people are hurting for far worse reasons. Then I get off my arse and walk.
posted by zadcat at 6:30 AM on April 2, 2009 [1 favorite]

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