Getting through the blues

Everything feels like extra effort lately, and based conversations I'm having I'm not alone.

Is a dark cloud following you around, too?

I've begun this post three times now, and have ideas for others that I want to write about Valentine's Day and deciding about motherhood. Each time I start I just can't seem to find the right words, and sometimes not even the energy to keep going.

I've used the word, "Meh," more times than I can count when people ask me how I am. As soon as I say it, I often hear, "Yeah, me too. Meh."

Could it be the weather, Mercury, or a new strain of flu that makes our emotional muscles ache more than physical ones?

Some might say it's just February.

If you feel you down right now too, I offer this post as a two-step antidote.


Step One:  Permission Granted.


On my worst days, the first thing I have reached for is a kind ear from a friend. Someone I know who will listen without judgment, and send a virtual hug through the phone. I count myself very lucky to have these people in my life, and I hope they know how special they are to me.

I want to know that it's okay to feel this way.

I can judge myself too quickly for having a down moment, when really if I let myself wallow for a couple hours or even a couple days, I feel 100 times better. A friend can give me permission to do that if I'm having trouble giving it to myself.

The truth is that most funks work themselves out in time.

Just like the regular flu, you wake up one morning and feel better. So the antidote isn't to do something as much as it is to allow yourself to be where you are right now, and trust that this will run its course in time.


Step Two:  In the Meantime.


Unfortunately waiting is not my strong suit, especially waiting for an unknown period of time.

When I hear that I will feel better in time, I want to scream. It isn't comforting that this will pass without knowing how long it will take, and even then I can get antsy.

I know, I know, time does heal just about everything.

Patience is a virtue.

The winter, which it has been in the Northeast for what feels like forever, is an especially good teacher about patience. The stark whiteness of the snow, the slow melt when the sun comes out, the short days and long nights.

If you're already at peace with time, then you are ahead of the game. You know how to soothe yourself in the quiet moments, and breathe deeper. I could take lessons from you.

If you're like me though, you're going to need some help. That's what this step is for.

At a book event recently, I was asked about a passage I read from my time in the hospital 10 years ago. Something truly magical happened while I was there, and it changed the course my life has taken since. The audience member asked how I made it through my experience so successfully.

I made it through hard times, because I believe that something wonderful is possible, and then create distractions for myself to give it time to happen.

It's pretty funny, actually.

I know I'm not the best person to be told to wait, so when I know I will need to I invent things to occupy myself in the meantime.

So that's what I'm suggesting for all of us now.

If it is true that our dark clouds will dissipate on their own, then what will you do until then?

Choose something small and manageable. It doesn't have to be on your to-do or Today lists necessarily, because those can cause more anxiety if they aren't done right or take too much energy and time for you to see progress. You'll get to those, but in the midst of the funk is not a good time to start.

Cleaning the bathroom is a personal favorite. You can also...

  • Sit on the floor and organize your book shelf for an afternoon.
  • Hand-write a letter to your favorite aunt.
  • Make a big pot of chili.
  • Dust off your box of crayons, and doodle.
  • Go for a long walk. (If you're near me you might need a couple layers of clothes, but it will be worth the effort.)
  • Take a nap on the couch wrapped in a warm blanket.
  • Sing a silly song at the top of your lungs.


What works for you when battling the blues?