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:
- What if the bottom fell out?
- What would that be like?
- What might happen next?
- What would it be like to be more present where you are, without worrying about the future?
- 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?
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.