There are so many reasons for feeling low, down, depressed, glum, in the doldrums, under the weather or blue. By whatever you choose to name it, the debilitating effects of depression still remains one of the biggest and yet least understood impacts on our life. That may be our short term, daily life, or longer term if left untreated; particularly if a clinical depression is diagnosed.
Strangely, I had already planned to post this blog today and as I was scheduling I discovered, to my amazement that I had selected a notable, observed date on the calendar known as ‘Blue Monday’. Apparently, this is due to it being recognised as the ‘saddest’ day of the year. Unfortunately, for many people however, just one day of feeling unhappy in a twelve-month period is unheard of.
Thankfully diagnosed depression has not blighted my life for any great length of time. Bouts of feeling desperate and low during dark times have come and gone and I do believe I had a period of post-natal depression twenty five years ago – although this was short-lived. I have however been affected in other ways. Being involved in two long- term relationships where both partners were sufferers, I bore witness to how this manifested itself in very different ways.
My daughter struggles with anxiety and periods of depression. My mother, who is now in her 86th year has battled all her life since childhood and it seems that a lack of knowledge way back in her childhood, meant that the correct support systems were not in place for her at the times she most needed it. For both, I often feel helpless, trying simply to be there and encourage some routine or activity that might keep their ‘heads above water’. The list of other family members and friends who have struggled or continue to struggle with this misunderstood illness could go on. There are many more I’ve not mentioned and probably others in my circle, of whose illnesses I am sadly unaware.
I am at a point in my life now where I have begun to experience periodic low moods. Nothing serious but enough to make me wonder what I need to do differently. This may be partially due to being ‘of an age’ where peri-menopausal hormones are on the blinkity blink. Partial responsibility for my frame of mind may also lie with an incapacitation caused by a skiing accident on a school trip, just three and a half weeks ago. Whereas normally, a wander into the great outdoors would be instant medicine for me, I now have to find creative new methods of keeping my mind active, focused and healthy. This is proving to be tricky some days – particularly when knee pain is high or tiredness, frustration and emotion take over.
In order to beat the post-injury moody blues, I compiled a list of things to refer to, in order to keep me busy, focused and happy in heart and head. Looking forward and avoiding regret or ‘what ifs’ are both part of the key. Knowing how to listen to your body’s needs and then acting accordingly is another. This is an area requiring greater practise for me, as I tend to stubbornly work through pain and tiredness, not listening to my body and I will often end up crumpled and broken a few days or weeks later.
Only this evening my husband took out his guitar for a twang and a sing-a-long. The old favourites never fail to remove the grump gene (even if only temporarily) and replace with a mood-lifting, toe-tapping, hum-meister of an ear worm. I’ve come to bed with American Pie in my head, a chilled couple of hours laughing at off-key notes and amateur efforts at being a pub singer. All in the comfort of my lounge. No children or animals were hurt in the process and I’ve moved into a more relaxed place than I was just after we had eaten tea.
Another little job that has afforded me sitting down time while remaining as productive as possible has been sorting out the clothes in my chest of drawers. It was hugely satisfying to have my husband move an old chest of drawers out of the bedroom and another, ‘smaller model’ from the study has been moved into its place, fitting into the chimney alcove perfectly. It’s meant I have had to massively pare down the quantity of clothing stored here and much of it has been placed into bags ready to be sent to a favoured charity shop.
Drawers now contain Marie Kondo-style folded t-shirts, jeans, underwear, socks etc. It’s a double-whammy of appreciating the new found space and appreciating the new me. I’m actually pretty proud of myself.
Tiredness is kicking in now, so at 2.10am I think it’s probably time to bid you goodnight, as tiredness is definitely one of my mood drainers. By the same token I am a night owl and do find I come to life at this time, benefitting immensely from writing these journal pages. This in itself is a great mood lifter and I can highly recommend giving yourself at least ten minutes a day to extract your thoughts onto paper. What a super form of therapy that has been for me during this enforced rest time.
So long and goodnight. Sweet dreams and happy 85th birthday to my Dad somewhere out there on his blue and white star and the first of his birthdays without him.
*This blog post was adapted from a journal entry on 7th May 2019. The second part of the blog will follow next week whereby I systematically list numerous methods of trying to keep the blues at bay during a sustained period of injury and recovery.