Day 837: The Bottom Falls Out

At the bottom — I mean the beginning — of this past week, my first patient on Monday talked about how much better she was feeling. Almost immediately, she said

I’m afraid the bottom’s going to fall out, and something bad will happen.

From the bottom to the top of my career as a therapist, I’ve heard similar thoughts from many people, who are trying to move from the bottom of psychological distress to the top of their personal worlds.

People often fear the new, and feeling “too good” can cause fears that

  • the good feelings will end too soon,
  • it will be more painful  to crash down from the height of feeling good ( than to remain with the familiar, more negative feelings), and
  • the person doesn’t “deserve” to feel that good.

Near the bottom of my time as a WordPress blogger (way back in 2013), I wrote some other posts about this topic. Since I’ve bottomed out my ability to link to past posts while I’m writing a new one on my phone, I’ll add links to those posts at the bottom, after I publish this.

So, to go back to the bottom of this story about my patient on Monday, after she expressed the very common fear of feeling too good, I asked several questions, including these:

  1. What if the bottom fell out?
  2. What would that be like?
  3. What might happen next?
  4. What would it be like to be more present where you are, without worrying about the future?
  5. Why don’t human beings worry about the bottom falling out when we’re feeling BAD?

Lest the bottom fall out of the point I’m trying to make here, I asked that bottom question to invite her to consider that feelings shift up and down — moving towards the top and then towards the bottom and so on — over time.  Yet, our thoughts go into the future with worry when we feel “too good” …. but we usually do NOT anticipate feeling better when we are feeling bad.

Those questions I asked that patient (especially the bottom one) seemed to get to the bottom of her fears.  I’m writing that from the bottom of my heart, now, as I remember  how happy she looked at the bottom of that therapy  session.

Here are some top-to-bottom shots I took yesterday from the bottom of Boston, as I was thinking about “The Bottom Falls Out” for today:





To get to the bottom of that last photo from yesterday, the 2015 snow in Boston is FINALLY bottoming out.

Before I get to the bottom of this post, I want to introduce you to Robert …

… who is “the boss” of

… near the hospital where I work. When I started working there — over three years ago, and was having some days when my mood hit bottom — Robert was one of those people whose welcoming smiles and friendly talk helped my moods head back towards the top. I wasn’t surprised, yesterday, when Robert told me he was heading towards his top career choice of becoming a nurse when he realized he’d prefer to go to culinary school, instead.

Here’s the burrito Robert made me yesterday, from top to bottom:

That blue marker is there to mark the size of that burrito. Do you think the bottom fell out of that?

Apparently not.

As we approach the bottom of this WordPress page, do you have any questions, thoughts, or feelings you’d like to share at the bottom of the comments?

What music do you think should fall out, at the bottom here?

Top-to-bottom thanks to Spinal Tap (for “Big Bottom” and so much more), to Robert, to people trying to get to the bottom of their past and their fears in therapy, to my co-workers who get to the bottom with humor and grace, and to you — of course — for letting the bottom fall out with me here, today.

We’ve finally hit bottom! As promised, some previous posts about that bottoming-out Fear of Feeling Too Good are here, here, and here.

Categories: personal growth, photojournalism, Psychotherapy | Tags: , , , , , , , | 40 Comments

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40 thoughts on “Day 837: The Bottom Falls Out

  1. What a top-to-bottom and everything in between positive message! Thank you Ann! Now I must go find one of those Daily Bitch calendars for my desk at work! (Evil grin)

  2. yeoldefoole

    OMG my entire family enjoyed those Daily Bitch pages as I read them aloud!

    Don’t forget “Bottom’s Dream” in “A Mid-Summer’s Night Dream”!! Hitting bottom was never so nice! Some day I’ll tell you about the time I hit bottom and was homeless for a few months…

  3. Do I have any questions? Yes. Why is that woman wearing shorts? Where’s all the snow?

    Ann, I feel for cyclist who will return to that bike with the mangled wheel. ❤
    Diana xo

    • Here’s my reply, from the bottom of my heart: you get to the bottom of things so beautifully, Diana. And that woman is wearing shorts because it’s almost Boston Marathon Day!!!

  4. yeseventhistoowillpass

    Why is it people often feel as if the next shoe will drop?

  5. I got to the bottom of this post and reflected on your words. For too long I was afraid of success. It all seemed too good to be true. At my rock bottom I could not fathom a ray of hope, but my therapist was patient as a saint and continued to ask me an eternity of questions (or so it felt like). In the relentless pursuit to find my beacon of light, it one day occurred to me that I was spending all my energy on fear. Fear of everything. There was nothing to celebrate. Depression robs you of all the joy, or capacity to see the joy.
    But not unlike you, my doctor kept me thinking, pulling me out of my black tunnel, forcing me to review my assumptions. He didn’t offer advice, but directed me to where I could locate it…deep down inside myself.
    Thank you for allowing me to ramble. Later today I will revisit your post to read your former writings.
    Keep mentoring, asking and guiding others to their beacon of light.
    You’re a gift.

  6. Bottom line? I love how you got to bottom of the post of this post. 😊

  7. I really liked this post, it’s so true many of us have a tendency to look down when we’re up but not up when we’re down!

  8. My first thought when I saw your opening was that line of “I’ve hit rock bottom…and started to dig” 😉 Glad the sun is out your way.

    • I’m always glad when you’re out my way, Alex, because I dig your comments.

      • 🙂 One of these days I hope to say something as wise as the legendary philosopher I put up yesterday. Maybe if I write enough it will happen 🙂

      • You say wise things here, Alex,and I’ll check out your legendary philosopher in a bit, after the bottom-to-top of my next post falls into WordPress.

      • And as long as your blog remains up, you can keep expecting compliments. I really do like your site 🙂

      • Your compliments put me on top of the world, Alex!

  9. Bottoms are often what holds up everything else!

  10. your line “we do NOT anticipate feeling better when we are feeling bad” got me thinking. When things are going along too smoothly, it is sometimes hard to believe something won’t just come along and snatch all that good away and make the bottom fall out. It just seems too good to be true.But when we are feeling bad, I think we do anticipate feeling better, need to anticipate feeling better-seeing the light at the end of tunnel, living with Hope- which keeps us going until things do turn around. I remember visiting patients in the hospital when I volunteered for Pastoral Care and many would say they had hit rock bottom, so now there was nowhere to go but up. I hope I haven’t bottomed out with all my babble on your blog!

    • If I could, I would fill my blog with babble like this, from bottom to top. Many thanks for these top-notch insights.

  11. Craig

    This Joan armatrading song got me through a lot days in medical school. I can’t post from you tube…..

    Bottom To The Top

    Know I’ve been saying
    There’s something I have to prove
    I keep on going baby
    ‘Cos I know if I stop now
    I’m bound to lose
    To the limit here we go
    From the bottom to the top
    Gonna tell all of my friends
    Say I can run on any track
    Some move more quickly
    You know they can stand the pace
    Others move slow
    But they get there just the same
    Know I want first
    And not just to place
    Keep on pushing babe
    Know I’ve been working
    To do what I have to do
    Keep on pushing babe
    ‘Cos I know if I get through
    It’s more for you
    To the limit here we go
    From the bottom to the top
    Gonna tell all of my friends
    Say I can race on any track
    Some move more quickly
    You know they can stand the pace
    Others move slow
    But they get there just the same
    I know I want first
    And not just a place
    Keep on pushing babe
    To the limit here we go
    From the bottom to the top
    Nice and easy do it
    Nice and easy

  12. I came I started to read I got interrupted, I came back I got interrupted again, and again and again so I have given up just know I was here

    • I hope you come back again, Joanne, and read this all the way to the bottom. In any case, I appreciate your visit and comment.

  13. Life can sometimes seem like a bottomless pit, sort of like “A Bohemian Rhapsody”, which is exactly what this song is all about. I’m not crazy about the lyrics, but I guess one can’t deny the talent of the popular Queen British rock band, formed in London in 1970’s:

    “The song consists of six sections: introduction, ballad, guitar solo, opera, hard rock and finale. This format, with abrupt changes in style, tone and tempo, was unusual to rock music. “Bohemian Rhapsody” parodies many different elements of opera by using bombastic choruses, sarcastic recitative and distorted Italian operatic phraseology”-Wiki

    • Well, I suppose that they were trying to mimic an opera-like song, so operas most often have tragic lyrics, so this is probably the reason why the song is a bit on the tragic side, at least to me.

    • I like your comments and the music you share here, Maria, from the bottom of my heart. Many thanks.

  14. Here’s to eating a burrito the size of your head, Ann. Bottom’s up!

  15. I like the sun picture. I make these out of different things. Like the chocolate cake.

  16. When the bottom falls out, it leaves that much more space for growth.

  17. Pingback: Day 873: Just Deserts | The Year(s) of Living Non-Judgmentally

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