Is It Hot In Here Or Am I Just Happy To See You?

A few years ago some Finnish researchers, who must have been pretty bored and looking for an easy experiment to do, decided they were going to work out how emotions affect us physically. As they were researchers and not scientists it wasn’t the most scientific bit of work ever done, at least I don’t think it was. They got 701 participants (why 701? why not just 700?) to look at words, stories, films and pictures that would evoke an emotion. All the participants had to do was colour in a silhouette of the human body according to whether they felt hotter or colder in any part of their body. Afterwards they collected together all the coloured in silhouettes and averaged them out I guess, because this is what they ended up with.

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There are no prizes for guessing that blue means cold and yellow/red means warm. And to be honest this was not ground breaking research. Everyday sayings told us most of this stuff already. ‘The warm fuzzies’, ‘hot headed’ and ‘feeling blue’ are indicators we already knew this stuff. Still it’s nice to see it on a diagram, funny to see that contempt makes your genitals go cold and your armpits are apparently naturally cold (is there something wrong with my armpits if they’re warm?).

The question that remains unanswered by this research is what happens when two emotions mix? Over the past couple of days I’ve been more actively asking for help (it started a few weeks ago but I still kept sticking my head in the sand). The reason that it has taken me this long to make the call is the same reason I haven’t done many things. Anxiety. This would rather imply that I spend a lot of my time with an overheating torso and sweaty hands. But the anxiety came with depression (or maybe depression came with anxiety, chicken and egg situation really) so I should also have a cold head and limbs.

This means I have done extensive research, almost as extensive as those Finnish guys, on what happens when two emotions mix. I can very reliably and scientifically conclude that the driving emotion wins the temperature battle. Mostly depression is in control, I get cold a lot, although that might have something to do with my cold damp flat… And probably once every couple of days I have to do something that makes me anxious (usually just leaving the flat is enough). That’s when I start to get a bit red in the face and sweaty palmed. When I’m anxious I haven’t stopped being depressed, I’m not happy but nervous. But my body says no to mixed emotions and puts one in control. Most of the time Depression is the pilot but every now and then it gets up for a bathroom break and its copilot anxiety takes over the controls.

Not much I can do about that. But what I have done is stopped hiding from my problems. I finally (after three weeks) made the call to the right people and booked a therapeutic consultation appointment. It’s going to 90 minutes long… just that alone makes me anxious.

I’m also on day 4 of taking citalopram. I haven’t felt any waves of depression crashing into me lately and I even smiled to see what a beautiful day it was yesterday and today (possible placebo effect or coincidence), but I’m also not happy. Pretty much what I expected. Only with the downside of having felt nauseous for the past two days. Forward momentum isn’t always easy… unless you’re in space then it’s pretty much no problem because there’s almost zero friction, just plain sailing. But I’m not in space… Or am I?

S. Hansen

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