Allowing Sadness means Learning to Laugh

Loving the ADHD devil – DAY 18

I used to have a silent laugh. Whenever something funny would happen around me and everyone else would laugh out loud, I would remain with only a grim on my face, counting the seconds, or worst, minutes, till the fun would be over and I would be allowed to return my face to normal. When someone would ask me if I didn’t laugh or didn’t enjoy, I would say “I do, it’s hilarious” and forced my mouth to represent a smile just a little more.

Smiling, laughing, joy and fun, it was all just very uncomfortable for me. I either had to force a smile on my face or force myself to remain without emotion when I did feel the need to laugh about something, knowing my laugh would be an uncontrolled one. Before my breakdown, I knew I had a problem with sadness, but I never realized I was unable to laugh for years, until I recently began to understand what real honest laughter feels like.

With the process of healing from my burnout, and everything that lead me to this situation, I’m focussing on learning how to accept myself and how to listen to my true self. I mostly focus on my sadness, tiredness and anxieties, but over the past few weeks I notice something else happening. I started laughing. Not just more often, but also more real. I no longer count the time, I no longer control my laugh, it just happens without my consent. And more and more often, I am the one that laughs hardest when something funny occurs. Laughter seems like a side effect of my road to recovery.

Laughing manual

It makes sense though. I mean, I didn’t allow myself to ever show emotions. And it makes sense that my believe to remain in full control over all my expressions, overthinking every reaction and believing my emotions always needed to be filtered before being allowed, resulted in more than just a problem with allowing my negative emotions. The constant control took away all my emotions.

I was never able to relax or be in the moment, everything had to be planned and logical, I never allowed myself to do anything out of impulse, to do anything that was not overanalyzed by myself. In a way, I had been stressed my entire life, my will to always be in control put me in a constant state of tension, a constant alertness that prevented me from ever doing anything that was not planned, but real and true emotions only occur out of impulse, even the good ones.

I notice now that I have always been overthinking the act of laughing, like I had made a manual for myself to follow when humor was surrounding me. I had to shape my mouth into a smile and when something was really funny I could allow a “ha-ha” but nothing more, no matter how much humor I was confronted with. I forced myself to stick to what I believed I was supposed to do when laughing occurred, in the same way I forced myself to not show sadness or pain.

A fight too far

My fear of my ADHD devil has taken much more from me than I expected. For some reason I was so scared of my devils impulses that I taught myself to never be real, to always hide behind layers and layers of overthinking. I was so scared to be misunderstood or fuck things up for myself that nothing was ever allowed to be spontaneous or uncontrolled and like this I actually ruined a big part of my life, living like a ghost or robot. I never realized the effect of this until I started laughing and felt the freedom and honesty I was missing my entire life, I wasn’t unhappy because of everything that happened in my life, I made myself unhappy by never allowing anything real, for never allowing myself to be real.

Let go and laugh, and laugh to let go

I am mostly focussing on allowing my negative feelings, but there is no way to open up just one emotion, like there wasn’t a way to hide only one. Allowing myself to feel sadness means that I am taking away my emotional filters, it means that I no longer see the expression of my emotions as an action that requires a manual. Allowing emotions means allowing impulses simply because emotions are reactions you can not plan, they just appear due to the things that happen outside your own control. You don’t cry over something you had planned yourself and you can not laugh about something you expected to happen, emotions can not be controlled, instead they are the most pure reaction we can have on anything that happens outside our own planning.

Accepting sadness means letting go of expectations or control. The fact that I start laughing shows that I’m starting to let go of my manuals, that I start to learn how to be in the moment and how I’m able to adjust to the things that happen around me without thinking. Removing my filters means that I learn how to become more flexible and spontaneous without even trying and I am so grateful for how this makes me feel, like I have been trapped for so long and I’m finally able to break free. The new ability to laugh is a sign of me becoming a better person as well as a tool that helps me to become this person. Laughter shows me I’m able to let go but it also helps me to let go.

My new medication

I laugh every day now, multiple times even, out loud, with a true smile on my entire face. A couple of times a week I’m even able to completely give in to my experience of fun, I collapse, tears start rolling down my cheeks, I can not catch my breath and I have no control over my body, lasting many minutes. I am able to get the giggles, able to truly give in to the feelings of joy deriving from the most stupid things I believe are truly hilarious.

Last night I was trapped in what I believe is called a guffaw, a full body response to something funny. I had spend over an hour in my kitchen, preparing food for me and my boyfriend, the result: 2 full pans of food. I was supposed to cook for two people but instead had made enough to feed an entire army. After we ate as much as we could, my boyfriend went to put what was left in my Tupperware and once he found out that even one pan did not fit a 2 liter box, I started laughing. With every one of his scoops I lost it, the amount of food seemed endless and I just couldn’t take it. I think was out of control, covered in happy tears and out of breath for about five minutes, until we found out that I had made more than 6 liters of food for the two of us and we both couldn’t stop ourselves from laughing for another 10.

I am not sure if this laughter yesterday was a normal reaction, I mean, was what was happening really that hilarious? Probably not, but I did not care. What is important is the relieve I experienced afterwards, like my laughter was a way to clear my brain and gain new energy. I felt so much brighter, happier, real and careless even, once I was able to catch my breath again. Like my laugh had removed all my worries and struggles, like everything was washed away and I could just be happy in that moment.

I’m sorry

It’s hard to believe that I kept myself from an honest laugh for almost 3 decades, to be honest, writing about it now is making me feel very emotional. I did so many things wrong out of a fear for my true self, while the girl I have been fighting is so amazing. I’m so sorry that I believed the true me was a monster not allowed to enter the world, I’m so sorry I have taken so many good things about myself, I’m so sorry that I forgot who I was. It’s hard to realize that I actually created a monster with my fight against an imaginary monster, it’s hard to accept that I have caused myself so much pain for so many years. I went too far and I have been so unkind, but I must see the good in this discovery, since from now on, I will be the amazing girl that was hiding inside me, I will see her, be her, and be my true, honest and amazing self, finally, with the help of the healing power of my own laugh. The hidden medicine I have refused to take for too long.

The healing power of a good laugh

Laughter lowers blood pressure
Laughter reduces stress hormone levels
Laughter tightens your abs
Laughter improves your cardiac health
Laughter boosts your immune system
Laughter releases endorphins, the happiness hormones
Laughter produces a sense of well-being

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