Facing Your Feelings – Nicola O’Hanlon

Image by Vitabello from Pixabay

Many of us have been brought up to perceive certain emotions as a weakness. We come to believe that certain emotions are defective or not allowed. In turn, we suppress our emotions, which are indicators of what our true feelings are on any given subject, and instead take on the opinions and beliefs of others in an attempt to fit in or be accepted.

In my own life it has taken profound courage to look at my deepest and most challenging feelings, and then attach these feelings to some of the most disturbing of circumstances in my life, past and present. Processing our feelings is terrifying sometimes. If we find we are experiencing what is societally a negative emotion, we can often be shamed and told there is something wrong with us. How many times, for example, do we hear that anger is not lady like. You must accept the unacceptable. You must conform. But what does suppression and conformity do to you internally?

For many years (and occasionally still), I suppressed my anger and turned in on myself because I was constantly told I was an angry person; that anger is bad, that I have no right to my anger. Instead of being encouraged to speak and express my anger I had to suppress it to be acceptable, even though the things I was angry about were harms done to me that were deeply unacceptable to me, yet permitted in our society. So, I expressed, instead, my anger through my self-destruction. It made me physically, mentally and emotionally ill, detached from myself and not trusting my instinct.

It takes profound courage to consider quietening and stilling our mind long enough to reflect upon the way that we actually feel. It takes courage to sit in the intensity of difficult, painful feelings.


The wide range of injuries inflicted on the human body by excessive and prolonged alcohol or other drug (AOD) use have been extensively documented for more than two centuries, but until recently little was known about the relative health of people recovering from addiction. The potential burden of continued health problems in recovery has been obscured by general findings of improved health and quality of life in recovery from follow-up studies of clinical samples. Little information has been available on the health status of people in recovery within larger community samples.


In 2010, the Philadelphia Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual disAbility Services contracted with the Public Health Management Corporation (PHMC) to incorporate recovery-focused items into PHMC