Some days, from the moment I wake up until the time I go to sleep, are just plain bad. No matter how much positive thinking I do, I can’t shake the negativity. It’s like the 24-hr-cold of emotion.
Today was such a day.
I’m not telling you this to get sympathy. I don’t expect you to care. Honestly. But I noticed that I deal with these kinds of days differently than I used to, and I hope that my transparency can be of some use.
Whatever You Do, Don’t Cave In
Once upon a time I struggled intensely with severe depression. At one point it got so bad, that I was frighteningly close to attempting suicide. This is something that very few people know about me, and I hesitate to share it with you now. I feel almost certain that this admission will earn me sideways glances from coworkers, and will scare off any guy who ever had even an inkling of romantic interest in me.
But I’m fine with all that if it means you feel less shameful of your own grief. Many more people than you know secretly suffer from clinical depression. If ever you see someone who seems to have a perfect life. Know that it isn’t. What you think is real, isn’t true.
So, as you can imagine, during this very sad time, days like today would send me into a downward spiral of despair. I would start out feeling sad, and the sadness would trigger negative thoughts. Those negative thoughts would result in more sadness, which triggered new negative thoughts and so on. Can you picture it?
You really should click on the link and read it, but essentially it says that “clean” pain is the natural and healthy grieving process we experience when something hurtful happens to us, while ”dirty” pain is the result of our thoughts about how wrong the situation is–how it proves that we, or life in general, are bad. Of the two types of pain, “dirty” pain is the type that causes the most suffering and distracts from the natural processing and healing of “clean” pain.
After learning this, when negative thoughts arose (i.e. stories I invented about “how bad it is”) I stopped in my tracks and allowed the “clean” pain to dissolve itself naturally. As a result, I gained some power over my bad days.
Release the Energy of It
Sometimes emotional energy can be so raw, fiery and consuming, that it feels as though it is more powerful than you are. It’s important to find constructive ways to release that energy rather than internalizing it and letting it consume you. Listed below are a few tools for releasing emotion. Which one you use will depend on your level of energy, the type(s) of emotion you are feeling and availability of the tool
Tell somebody. Find someone you know who cares about your long-term happiness and tell them how you’re feeling. You don’t have to go into depth if you’re uneasy about it. You can share in person, over the phone or via twitter–that’s what I did today
Write it down. Journaling, especially free-writing, is a very powerful tool for releasing pent-up emotion.
Move your body. Walk, run, skip or do all three. It doesn’t matter. Listen to yourself. Are you enraged? Then run full blast, lift some weights or go to the batting cages. Feeling sad? Try going for a walk, do some yoga or some light stretching.
Do Just One Thing
Take one small step towards your goal, even if you feel like crap. The smallest of steps will keep you from feeling bad tomorrow. For me, this has been one of the hardest but most powerful tools to master. Feeling sad used to be an excuse for doing nothing. Now, no matter what, I take one tiny baby step. If you think of a step and that feels too much. Cut it in half and in half again until you do it.
It’s Only Temporary
I love the saying “this too shall pass.” I use it as a mantra when I feel as if the present moment is too much to handle. Try it or make your own mantra, and see what happens.
Do you have your own tools for dealing with bad days? If so, please share below!