Sunday, April 5, 2015

The Fog Always Lifts

March is over.

Thank goodness.

I don't know what causes it - the stars, the ides, my luck - but March has been a historically difficult month for me. Some years it's sickness. One year brought a miscarriage, two other years it was the month miscarried babies were to be born. Still a different year, my grandfather, in the early stages of dementia, disappeared. He was found a week later in our neighboring state, disoriented and looking for home. His car was drivable, but a wreck. Where had he been?

I feel a bit like that car after last month. I'm still in working order, but it's hard to say where I've been. My pen stopped writing. I felt heavy. There were far too many moments that I felt like jumping in the car, blasting my Lumineers playlist, and getting lost.

But it's April now, and it's going to be alright.

It's normal to feel like this occasionally. It happens to everyone. Studies show that the gifted may be affected by depression to a higher degree due to our heightened responses to emotions.

This particular round brought a suitcase full of negative self-talk.

"You can't do this."
"Why are you trying? You're doing an awful job."
"You have let this happen."
"Look what _____ is doing. Why can't you do that?"
"Why did you say that? You sound so stupid."

And a whole course of other unkind words.

I am a naturally optimistic person. Where others see a problem or pathology, I usually find the hope and the benefits of the situation. But sometimes the pessimism creeps in like a weed and becomes a struggle to uproot.

image: Hammonton Photography

So what to do?

1. Self-Affirmation, or Be Your Best Friend.
When I counsel teens, I often mention self-affirmation. I say, "Look in the mirror. Tell yourself three positive things about you. Do it every day. Soon, you'll mean it, and it won't be difficult to think of them anymore."

Have I been doing this myself? No. Instead, I've been berating myself in my head for what I have and haven't done, for what my kids are and aren't doing, for how I sounded on that phone call, for how my jeans fit...and on and on.

I have to be my own best friend. If I wouldn't say it to my best friend, I shouldn't say it to myself.

2. Reach Out. Talk to a Someone, or Write it Down.
Tell a friend how you are feeling. Talk to a loved one. If that seems insurmountable, get a journal. Write a letter that describes how you feel, maybe several. Describe the hopelessness. Ask yourself what life feels like when you are not in this place, and how you will know when it’s getting better.

Just mentioning how I was feeling to a friend, without detail, but acknowledging it, was the first step in managing my feelings. The cloud I was was under lost a bit of its force, and I was able to write about it to myself in detail.

3. Get Outside. Get Some Exercise.
Sunlight and fresh air does wonders for the mental state. It's spring now. Taking a quiet walk, noticing the budding leaves and flowers brings me some new perspective. If you are a runner who has been languishing through the colder months, put those running shoes back on and clear your head. Kara at Quill and Camera recommended this 7 minute workout app for those with limited time, and it looks great.

I've started jogging in the morning or doing yoga. Both get my endorphins going and I feel the effects for the whole day.

4. Do Something Nice for Yourself. 
Buy yourself some bright flowers. Make something pretty. Give yourself a few moments to sit in silence and breathe. Get that book you've been meaning to read.

I just bought a new spring dress, and I plan to wear it and walk in sunshine and tell myself happy things.

5. Practice Mindfulness.
You hear that so often these days that it sounds like just another buzzword. Why is it important?. It's easy to get so caught up in just surviving that we forget to stop and notice how we feel right now.

I find my most peaceful moments with my youngest, once her unending energy has calmed and she is asleep. I snuggle up and breathe deeply with her. I visualize all of my stresses seeping out of me and out of her window because they are simply not allowed in her room.

Concentrate less on how you felt yesterday, or might feel tomorrow. Be present in today.

It feels as though I am alone during these melancholy days, but I know I'm not. I'd love you to comment and tell me how you get through the more difficult times!


  1. You have been through a lot, both with feelings and associations. You make progress seem approachable.

    This particularly landed for me, the cadence and flow: "But it's April now, and it's going to be alright."

    1. Thanks, Bob. I hope my words will make someone else feel like progress is approachable too.