And then another day

There isn’t much more to it than this, just 24 hours of input and things can go south pretty quick. Words, good or bad, as a trigger. There are as many faces to depression as there are people who suffer it, so what I’m about to write isn’t prescriptive by any means. You need to sort out a story on your own. Sadly, others can only ever give us advice and guidance, never a fix.

Last night was tumultuous. After feeling more or less “on top” of things over the last few weeks I laid in bed watching the day’s light failing against the blinds. I was exhausted, and with that comes vulnerability. I started worrying about what would happen to me if I ever stopped working for the school board. I thought how poorly my English degree has prepared me for the real world, that I should have studied something else in school, or worked harder, or made better decisions, more sound choices. I should have studied finance or banking, or developed a proper skill or a trade. I distinctly remember weeping on my girlfriend’s couch when I was nearing the end of university feeling lost and hopeless. I had no idea what I would do in life and that was almost 25 years ago. So with 25 years of experience and wisdom, I found myself falling back into this cycle of thinking.

I had horrible dreams and woke this morning anxious and fearful until I stepped outside with the dogs. I stood on the hillside across the street with Maggie basking in the sun and felt the sun on my face. I said my thanks but it came out of a place of gratitude that was just starting to refill. I later saw a post from a friend who had just finished a year off to follow her passion and study pottery. Her picture was of smiling faces around a dinner table on a lawn somewhere. This helped my spirits as well and replenished a little more of my hope.

Out of sickness, the residues we’re left with are trains of thought, practiced and habitualized responses to input that generally aren’t entirely helpful. And while mental illness might ebb and flow, and might even be “cured”, there are often these thoughts that are so well worn into our personalities, etched indelibly into who we are and what we’ve become that we believe them to be true. This, I think, is the negative side of emotional intelligence. We can’t be made – even by ourselves – to do the “right” things, to make wise choices and practical decisions even when we know we might be better off for them. But through other habits, like practicing gratitude even when you don’t feel grateful, I think we can gently massage our underlying thought patterns into more positive directions.

Some of us will never be practical, but all of us can be happy.


Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: