“Argue for your limitations and, sure enough, they’re yours.” ~Richard Bach
“Nobody likes me; everybody hates me/ I’m gonna eat some worms!” ~nursery rhyme
“Keep it up, and I’ll give you something to cry about!” ~my Dad
I have nothing to be unhappy about. I live in reasonable comfort on a beautiful island. My health is good. People like me. I have nice neighbors, good friends, and a wonderful family. I have a decent job that supports me. I have two sweet dogs that adore me. And yet, difficult as it may seem, at times I can manage to be downright miserable. It happened this last weekend.
I’d had a particularly busy week at work. My already long days were made longer because I was staying after-hours to cut plexiglas to fit frames for a series of collages. I was tired, and looking forward to my days off. I was scheduled to have a three day weekend, my first Sunday off since April. It would do me good, and allow me to catch up on yard work and finish getting my artwork ready to show.
Saturday, I ran down to meet the ferry boat when it came in to our harbor. I expected my niece to be on it. It turned out I was mistaken about the date, and she was not there. I didn’t realize, until then, how much I’d been looking forward to seeing her. What a disappointment!
Later that day, I overheard my co-worker making plans for Sunday. “You know, you’re scheduled to work on Sunday,” I reminded him. Clearly he had not remembered; obviously, he was unhappy about it. I offered to work in his place. It wasn’t a big deal; I work almost every single Sunday all year ’round. I’m used to it. Still, something like that is perfect fodder when my mood wants to dip into the self-pity realm.
Sunday morning, up early, I sat down at the computer to write my blog. Turning to week #28 in my 52 Lists for Happiness book, I found, “List the projects you have been meaning to work on and finish.” What?!? I, the queen of good intentions and unfinished projects, could write an encyclopedia on the subject, not simply a list! What kind of exercise in humiliation is this? By that time, it seemed that even “the 52 Lists (for Happiness) Project” had turned on me! I spewed out one good example before heading out the door for work.
Sunday was busy, with lots of customers and in-coming freight. I mixed fourteen gallons of paint, cut several keys, and put together an extensive special order for eavestrough. I had a dozen customers come in after closing time. Then, when I was finally able to lock the door and turn out the lights, I clocked out, then went to the basement to finish my plexiglas.
By the time I got home, I was physically and emotionally exhausted. I took the dogs to Fox Lake, made a simple supper, and was in bed before 9 PM. Wide awake at 2 AM, I read, paced the floor, worried about a hundred nonsensical things, and did some journal writing. I was finally able to sleep for a couple hours at dawn. By Monday morning, I was a mess: sad, sorry, depressed, full of self-pity and certain that everybody was picking on me.
It happens just that quickly. Life is normal, even happy, going along on an even keel. Then, a series of small occurrences cause imbalance. Lack of sleep. Disappointment. Physical tiredness. Stress. I know the contributing factors. It used to be, those low moods would last for weeks, or even months. Not anymore.
I know how to take care off myself, when I feel depression coming. I know how to get through it, too. Self-care is important. A soothing cup of tea, a hot bath, an afternoon nap, a good “comfort food” meal: what seems like indulgence is simply taking care of myself. Physical exertion, whether through exercise or, for instance, scrubbing a floor can go a long way to alleviate feeling low.
It’s helpful to remember to NOT take this time to vent to others. It’s okay to say “I’m depressed (or frustrated, disappointed or sad),” and to ask for understanding or help. It’s not a good idea to try to place blame on others for my own feelings. Any attempts to do that will only necessitate apologies later.
Beyond that, I reassure myself that the mood won’t last…and it won’t. Even at the worst of times, my life is pretty darn good…and I know it.