Do you ever find yourself in self diagnosed bouts of depression?*
Feeling sad. Not leaving the house for a couple of days. Showering doesn't even cross your mind. You eat all the crappy food in your cupboards, eating the weirdest combinations you'd never eat if you were in another emotional state (apples and worst anyone?).
You turn on your computer for a Netflix or Couchturner (yes, I admit I'm a Fbk fan) tv show binge. In between seasons you routinely take a long nap to escape because well, being sad is tiring.
During your 48 hours of sadness, the thought of dying crosses your mind and you're at this point where you're indifferent if it were to actually happen to you. You're not suicidal, you just think if a meteor crashed into your house or the apocalypse came and suddenly you dropped dead it wouldn't be a problem to you. Literally, no feelings at all towards death. It's like you're a teenager again who couldn't care less about life.
While you're in this sadness you have no idea when it's going to end. If you're like me, your last bout of depression wasn't that long ago. But looking back on it you can celebrate the victory of moving out of that state.
Over the weekend I had my most recent bout of sadness. It was different than my past blues attacks because the following day I found myself actually happy and grateful for being sad.
Here's what I realized I did unconsciously over my 48 hr of sadness that made my blues actually effective.
1. Accept this is where you are at right now. That you are sad. In the past I'd try to do all these things to make me happy again. Go outside, sing along to Ace of Base, meet up with a friend, watch something funny. And the most common...tell myself like a broken record, "I'm happy. Life is good. I'm happy. Kristin you're a happy person."
It was like pushing myself into happiness and even though my outside appearance was chipper and smiling, if I was completely honest with myself (which was hardly the case) I could still feel traces of sadness lurking inside me.
This weekend though I didn't ask myself what I could do to make myself feel good. The thought of being happy again was impossible. You know what I'm talking about. What I did was acknowledge the fact that I was sad and accept that it's the feeling flowing through me.
1.5. Don't force yourself to do anything you don't want to do. For me it was not working even though it was a 'working day.' No going out to watch a World Cup match even though the Netherlands was playing. No checking out cool neighborhood markets even if they were a once in a lifetime deal.
Why not feel as good as possible in your sadness?
Maybe that's an oxymoron but for me it felt good and easy just staying at home still sad.
2. Ask yourself what's making you sad. Then ask why, why, why until you come up with enough answers to satisfy you. This requires some radical honesty with yourself if you really want the most out of your sadness. A fair warning: doing this can make you go deeper into your sadness. But hey, you've gotta go deep to go far.
3. Thanks to the questions, you now have subconsciously created a list of things you don't want in your life. Now go a step further and tell your mind to make another list of things that you do want in your life. I realized I had conditioned my brain to automatically focus on what I do want...celebration!
4. Don't get out of bed until you feel called. In the last hours I only got out of bed until I couldn't take it any longer. Yes, it was Sunday so this was possible but I challenge you to only get out of bed when it feels good no matter what day it is.
5. Have gratitude for the sadness. We're conditioned to be thankful when things are going well. Here's another challenge for you: find at least one reason to be grateful for the sadness. It's ok if you have to wait for the sadness to flow through you.
It took me 48 hours for the sad energy to move on. I'm still not advanced enough to be thankful while I'm in the sadness. But I found gratitude afterwards. Being thankful that I gained more clarity on our business and what we're doing. Mmmm, clarity, I could just marinate in it.
So the next time you find yourself feeling blue remember these 5 1/2 things, try 'em out and notice if your perspective on sadness shifts.
*Ok, maybe depression is a bit dramatic but come on sadness is more fun when it's dramatic.