Empaths and Mental Health

The Human Trait to Feel Heard

It could be said that a great many Empaths experience mental health issues. The overload of emotional overwhelm through life experiences can eventually lead to mental health and addictive problems. We’re not taught how to express our emotions, even though most Empaths are highly expressive. What good is that if you don’t feel heard as an Empath.

I grew up in the era where ‘Children should be seen and not heard!’ This a statement that still grinds on me today. I came from a loving family; my parents were incredibly attentive to our needs. They held strong values in the way they raised my brothers and I. However, open two-way communication was non-existent. As a child, that was hard. As a teenager, it was extremely difficult for me; in adulthood, it was crippling. I was a blubbering mess!

It took many years to figure out that effective communication was everything to me, not just in my inner world but also in my outer world. I found myself in roles or situations where communication was a significant driver in the things I did and continue to do. It took just as many years to understand that feeling heard is crucial to how I function. I am not alone. This is an innate human trait, such as empathy.

“Expressing our feelings is critical to how we grow both emotionally and mentally. If we don’t feel heard, that emotional stuff lies deeply embedded, screaming out for mercy”.

One could assume that feeling heard comes as a package deal to communication. But sadly, it doesn’t. Many people cannot listen effectively. They can talk until the cows come home but fail miserably to listen with all senses acutely attuned, which packs a massive punch to Empaths. Not only are we great communicators, but we are also great listeners, so we can sense when someone is reciprocating effective communication skills.

Expressing our feelings is critical to how we grow both emotionally and mentally. If we don’t feel heard, that emotional stuff lies deeply embedded, screaming out for mercy. It doesn’t start out as conscious attention-seeking. Still, it can manifest into such when a child grows up and continuously experiences not feeling heard.

As the years pass, it can develop into full-blown attention-seeking. A desperate yearning to express one’s feelings and thoughts and to feel heard. Crying at the drop of a hat can rise out of nowhere from share frustration. Yet, this is who we are as living, breathing, empathic humans. It is part of our make-up. We were born to communicate and openly express what we feel and sense. To share our thoughts and what matters to us in any given moment, regardless of whether it is trivial to others.

Little things can become big things if we don’t express what we feel.

Big things can become bigger than Ben Hur and control and dictate our lives in a way that is far from desirable. It can lead us down a destructive path and consistently dwelling in a space lacking self-love and self-worth. We can feel entrapped, lost, and confused and doubt our decision-making, creating uncertainty. In effect, we are living in the past-present. Where our past becomes our present, and the future appears ever elusive.

What is the point in feeling otherwise if we don’t get to share it? We all want to feel heard. To feel that we matter. That our life is valued by those around us, as we effortlessly feel for others in return. It can be painfully awkward to go through life not feeling the reciprocation of our emotions and thoughts.

Empaths are the most expressive people on the planet. Some may call us’ drama queens’, and that can easily develop over time. We make the best actors because we can enter the role being called upon with conviction. We can pull up any emotion required because we are deeply connected within, whether we fully understand what the emotion(s) are teaching or not. Empaths are the walking, talking encyclopedia of emotions.

“Traumatic life experiences can become amplified and exasperated and feel like a ticking timebomb within the mind of an Empath”.

It can be draining on relationships when an Empath is highly communicative, and their loved one shows little to no ability to reciprocate with empathy. It can bring an Empath to their knees. It can be equally damaging when an Empath cannot express their thoughts and feelings. Traumatic life experiences can become amplified and exasperated and feel like a ticking timebomb within the mind of an Empath. We can go into meltdown unaided.

Fear of failure and letting others down is often at the forefront of who we are, especially to those nearest and dearest to us, which can lead to inner turmoil. The mind can quickly take over a traumatic experience and blow it sky-high. We can build layer upon layer of thoughts into one past experience and make it even more impacting every time. In doing so, we add more intense emotions to our long-held thoughts and create gut-churning and anxiety-packed energy. We unconsciously feed intense energies into our already disrupted energy field. It will determine many a predictable outcome.

Addictions can become the necessary evil to escape turmoil.

It can start with relatively ‘harmless’ addictions, like eating, but can become binge eating or lead to anorexia or bulimia. Likewise, smoking cigarettes or marijuana or an occasional drink of alcohol can lead to alcoholism. Or worse where it can lead to more heavily addictive substances to numb what one feels and shut out the trauma fueled nightmares and cold sweats that abruptly awaken one’s sleep and paralyze the ability to function normally. Whatever normal means.

“We all know and appreciate that addictions can become a means to an end. Survival”.

It becomes the way in which many Empaths continue to live with our untapped emotions dragging us one step forward and ten backwards. The only way to function in a world where we can feel isolated from genuinely living to our potential. We are a species not born accustomed to isolation. That goes against the grain of being empathic. Innate empathy is what makes us social beings. It allows us to get out and about with humanity, to live, breathe and function according to our innate abilities. But how can we do this effectively, or more so naturally, if our very life throws curve balls at us that lead us to lockdown and protect what little sense of self we have left?

What we yearn for is connection.

That is what makes our species so intricate and yet ever so complex when that necessity becomes an empty, unfulfilled void. Yet, how many Empaths were raised to express their thoughts and feelings openly? Not many, if any. If that were so, we wouldn’t have a dire and growing need for anti-depressant medications, psychologists, and psychiatrists to band-aid a solution to a humanitarian crisis of internal dysfunction.

“Throw in forced isolation, and you’ve got a recipe for a global human catastrophe waiting to be unveiled”.

The human dysfunction of empathy is rapidly going downhill, and the most recent couple of years has been a catalyst to divide and conquer humanity on a global scale. Mental health is on the rise due to the experience that crippled the world in fear and daily experienced anxiety. For Empaths, the cry was deafening and torturous to the soul of our existence.

Leaders of the world have a lot to answer for, and I have no doubt that the effects and increase in mental health issues are yet to rear their ugly heads. As an Empath, it is not hard to see, feel and hear the repercussions of what we endured over the past 2 years. We felt it full throttle. Like someone grabbed us by the throat and slowly began to suffocate the life out of us. Being silenced doesn’t sit well with Empaths! It goes entirely against the grain of our essence. It is both unnatural and brutal. Throw in forced isolation, and you’ve got a recipe for a global human catastrophe waiting to be unveiled.

As a result, we will inevitably see an increase in addictions to hard substances and suicides. If these weren’t already an issue in some countries, it has only been added to due to what was thrown at us. Forced silence and isolation are a Molotov cocktail waiting to implode in the heart and mind of an Empath. What humanity needs is effective communication and connectedness with each other.

So what can an Empath do if they suffer mental health issues?

Understand the dynamics of what is going on by harnessing the wisdom of your empathicness. Learn to understand what empathy is and how it plays a pivotal role in everything you think, feel, and do. You’d be surprised to learn how much your empathy affects you and how frequently it occurs. The problem is that we are not taught how to harness our empathy growing up. Once upon a time, we lived in communal villages, where the saying, ‘It takes a village to raise a child!’ used to exist, a bygone era. As a result, our parents likely did not realise how essential innate empathy is to our development. We can’t blame them for not knowing, nor can we blame ourselves or anyone at that.

What we can do is learn to understand what empathy is and what it isn’t. Unfortunately, there are so many areas where empathy goes utterly haywire in our day-to-day lives purely because of the lack of understanding at our fingertips. But if we look around, we can easily find ways to learn about empathy.

There are many good books and websites available on the topic, and I have recently read many. However, I strayed away from reading other people’s material for years. Purely because I did not want to be altered in my own understanding. Or take onboard others’ interpretation of empathy in a way that would affect my natural flow to share with you what I have learned and continue too.

However, as an Empath that lives and breathes empathy in every moment of my life, I am not personally interested in specific authors’ writings on empathy. Why? Because it isn’t about innate empathy. Not in how I live it and am guided by my innate empathy. Some writings totally bore me to death, and I struggled to finish certain books. I am not proud to openly state that, but it is my reality. Unless the author is an innate Empath, they will quickly lose my focused attention. However, an empathic author will grab me and make me sit up and read the book with excited anticipation until I have read it back-to-back. This person I can resonate with.

“We need each other to thrive in our empath abilities”.

Where there is a will, there is a way. And we, as Empaths, must not give up. We have a lot of work to do in learning to live with empathy and allowing ourselves to truly flourish in who we are. The world depends on us stepping up to the plate and hitting a home run. We need each other to thrive in our empath abilities.

Use discernment and be acutely attuned to what you are learning. If it sits well with you, run with it. If it doesn’t, and alarm bells are ringing, toss it to the wind and move on. Be your own critic of what is out there. Trust the instincts that reside within you as it serves you well, and you know it. Of course, not everything is good for you. I am not so keen on the scientific approach towards innate empathy, as quite frankly, it bastardises what empathy is and makes it into something it is not. It’s like science trying to factualise love. It only touches on the surface and minimises its true depth of meaningfulness.

So, learn everything you can because you will have so much to give others. You know that feeling deep inside that you’ve been seeking, what is my purpose in life? As an Empath, it is crystal clear to me. It is your empathy that is your purpose. It is quietly yet unwaveringly directing you to take stock and learn what it is, so you can help others flourish in their innate empathy. The world will be a better place because of you.

Copyright © 2022 Christel Broederlow

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