I have deadlines looming…mostly to a self-imposed timeline so I can easily ignore them. But they gnaw at my mind …I want to keep the promises I made to myself and will feel like a failure if I don’t.
We all have days when we can’t be arsed, and our motivation is lacking – you know what I’m talking about right? Those days when staying in bed seems reasonable and staying in bed with a bottomless cup of coffee, an endless packet of chocolate biscuits and a good book a valid and indeed, excellent lifestyle choice.
That day is today. My head is thick and foggy (not alcohol induced!) I can’t concentrate and my thoughts are muddled, my whole body feels heavy and listless. I’m familiar with this feeling and know I’ll come out the other end eventually…but in the middle of it, I do feel somewhat dark and desperate. I can’t write in this state, I stare dazed at the blank page. Don’t have the motivation to exercise, even though I know the endorphins a simple walk would produce could help shift this funky mood. I have a bunch of practical household tasks lying around waiting for my input, but the effort required to do anything more than stare mindlessly out the window is beyond me.
I am leaden, and listless. I catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror and I’m stunned momentarily by the image staring back at me. My eyes are lifeless, my whole body, even my hair looks…defeated. I feel numb, yet I want to cry. I’m familiar with the person in the mirror, with how she feels right now. I’ve been her before. I don’t like it. I don’t like HER.
Even my playlists can’t soothe me. Music – ever a mood changer – is currently an irritant as I skip, skip, skip through song after song looking for one that doesn’t annoy the beejezus out of me. It won’t be Nick Cave or Nate Rateliff – their moody songs are likely to see me spiral deeper. Even songs from the world’s most adorable and quirky teddy bear, Jeff Tweedy, or the perennially funny and flirty Mick Ralphs can’t cheer me up. Bugger…this really is dire.
After staring out the window for a long while and letting my eyes fill with tears for reasons I can’t decipher, I force myself to write. I start with trying to write the feelings I’ve described here…coercing word after word onto the page. It’s hard going at first.
Ideas either won’t come at all…and if they do, they fizzle out after a few bland sentences or are dark and bleak. A good day for writing some of the darker passages in the story I am working on at the moment you’d think, but it’s not that easy when your mind refuses to co-operate. I keep going, even gibberish is something, and at least I can at least admire my penmanship though the words themselves are utter shite.
Eventually my pen glides over the paper more readily, and I can feel the process of writing lifting me. It helps…I no longer cry unheeded tears, my tears if they fall now are for a character who is in the middle of an awful tragedy, and I ponder her next move or her motivation. I get lost in the story, in the characters I have created…marvelling at one’s resilience, empathising with the despair or deviousness of others.
Before I realise, an hour, then two has passed and I have written myself out of a funk. I glance again at the mirror and ahh, there she is…eyes bright, smile curving the edges of her mouth. She looks ready to go for a run or tackle the laundry…take on the world again.
Most of us are familiar with this feeling, this inertia, that cloaks us at one time or another. The frequency, the depth, and the ease with which we bounce back (or don’t) determine whether we are labelled with depression or merely a low mood. I understand the triggers for this episode of mine, most I can control and overcome, one or two are external factors outside my sphere of influence. And I knew as I said in the beginning, that I’d come through it…and I did.
I’m mindful of those that don’t possess the reserves I do, the self-awareness or the tools and tricks I use to claw my way back. I’ve had those days too. I’m not sure what the message is I want to convey here…be kind to people around you? You don’t always know what’s going on in their head. Be patient with yourself and allow yourself to feel the bad as well as the good. They are the yin and yang within us after all. Look for the things, the distractions or whatever that will trick you into thinking you feel better, until you actually do.
Ok…this doesn’t mean I’m advocating espresso martinis on repeat from 9:00am or devouring a 500g block of Cadbury’s* in one sitting, OR liberally sampling other herbal or chemical remedies…yeah, I’m sure you know what I’m talking about here!
* This of course is perfectly valid if you are trying to ward off dementors…hey, I opened with a Dumbledore quote I may as well continue with excellent advice from Professor Lupin. Jo Rowling’s Harry Potter series after all creatively explores fear, depression and the full gamut of emotions etc that make up the human condition… a constant source of inspiration for me as a writer.
I mean little things. For me today, it was writing – on another day it might be music or a long walk, binge watching Mamrie Hart on YouTube. Whatever it takes. And on those days where nothing seems to help…outsource. Phone a friend, a family member, a helpline…someone will listen, will be there for you.
I know this is kind of a low mood piece – no apologies, this is where my head is, was. You can’t appreciate the euphoria without having tasted the despair.
Ooh, that’s a brilliantly quotable statement, what? Sometimes my effing genius astounds me.
Ahh…and there you go…the snarky littlebird returns…I love her!
Till next week…
Peace and love
PS: if you need external support for anxiety or depression, consider some of the following agencies or sites