depression during a jolly time, as told with too many commas.
Updated: Dec 2, 2022
Do you ever feel so completely uninterested in life? The very opposite of thrilled. That is me at the moment. I am not even kidding, yesterday I typed into google: "Why am I so sad?" I hate when this happens, because the tiny, extremely unhelpful voice in the back of my head tells me I am a bad person for not being absolutely in love with my life. There's just so much to love. And it's Christmas for heaven's sake. Why can't I just be jolly?
I read a book that will change my life. I say will because it is happening slowly and I am beginning to change habits; I know that one day, I will be a new person if I can apply half of the truths this book has taught me. But I am not there yet.
This book (The Mindful Way Through Depression) talks about depression and what exactly is happening in the brain. When you have a negative emotion, the brain, like a well meaning husband, jumps into fix-it mode. He puts his little hard hat on and starts his inspection. He looks for problems. If there is a negative emotion occurring, there must be a reason why. And if he can find that reason, he can fix it.
Sometimes, there's just not a reason. Sometimes there is a reason and it is absolutely, ridiculously stupid. But the brain keeps searching. "Do I feel hopeless because I am in a dead end job while it seems everyone around me is doing something creative or meaningful? Nope. That's not it. Do I feel sad because I miss my husband and I fear that one day, he will leave me and I will be alone forever? Not that either. Maybe I feel lost and insignificant in a big world full of poverty and death and where the hell is God?"
That sounds dramatic, but let me tell you, my brain is very dramatic, and together we can go from wondering if the dog should be eating more to feeling like an absolutely awful human in an absolutely awful world.
The problem with this fix-it mentality and all that searching is that the brain is now bringing to the fore front of your mind every single problem you have or will ever have in your life. And that can get very depressing.
Back to the book. To fix the fix-it problem, here is what you have to do: nothing. You stop fixing. You stop wondering, investigating, trying to figure it all out. Instead, you just feel the feelings.
You say, "Self, you seem a little down today, and that's okay." And then you make yourself hot chocolate and spend the rest of the day in bed. You say, "Self, today doesn't have to be the best day ever. It can just be a day that comes and goes with little fanfare and some melancholy vibes." And then you let the day come and go. You say, "Self, it feels like you want to cry, so let's cry." And then you take a steamy shower so that you can sob and all the tears and snot will simply wash away.
This may feel like completely uninspired, non-advice. It certainly doesn't feel like advice. "Hey, I know you are feeling really sucky today. So, you know, just roll with that feeling." But the beauty is, when you do roll with that feeling, you give it space. You let it run its cycle. And you free it.
I am a living creature, just like a plant or flower. I will have times of growth and I will have times of death. I will wilt. I will bloom. I will be buried. I will fall. Today may just be a wilty day.
If you haven't seen the movie "About Time" please spend the next two hours watching the greatest film to ever be produced. This movie maybe has taught me more than the previously mentioned book. After a rain storm has ruined their wedding day festivities, Tim asks his bride, "Do you wish we’d picked another less wet day?" She replies, "No. Not for the world." And Tim replies with a quote that runs on replay in my mind: "And so it begins. Lots and lots of types of days."
There will be lots and lots of types of days and lots and lots of types of feelings, and they are all important. Being sad doesn't have to mean something is wrong. It is just one of the many feelings we are blessed to experience.
Lili Reinhart puts it beautifully. She says, "If I started out as this celestial being, just this energy, and the Universe or God or whomever said, "Hey, do you want to go to earth for an incredibly short amount of time, like a blip, and experience every emotion that you could possibly feel as a human? You get to have all these experiences, love, heartache, anxiety, joy, euphoria, whatever, all of it; do you want to do that?" Yeah. I do. And so when I am feeling these intense feelings, it's sort of a like a reality check to step outside and say, although this is a very uncomfortable, painful feeling, it is quite beautiful that I have the capacity to experience it. That is sort of something I use to ground myself when I am stuck in a feeling of darkness."
Feel your feelings. Cry it out. Know that it's okay to be angry or sad or anxious or hopeless, even during this jolly time of year.