Just a thought… Vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage. Truth and courage aren’t always comfortable, but they’re never weakness. [Brené Brown]
Did you miss it, or did you see that yesterday was Blue Monday? Sunwing even had radio ads based on it! I’m actually glad I wasn’t aware of it until the day was half over; I don’t need any pseudo-scientific date circling to tell me that it’s the day that winter, bills, Monday itself and everything else just kind of pile on and make for a bad mood. We’ve got plenty to keep us blue, thanks, and all you have to do is read the news (or yesterday’s journal) for some pretty significant reasons.
But there was a line in the latest season of The Crown that just keeps resonating with me and it has to do with sadness. I wish I had asked my sister to pause the TV so I could go back and write it down. The words from the actress playing Queen Elizabeth went something like this: you think you are sad until something truly awful happens and then you realize what sadness really is. Of course, it sounded much more eloquent coming out of Claire Foy’s perfect face, but I’ve not been able to shake that thought.
My entire life from teenage years to now, I’ve presented this outward veneer of sunshine and optimism with so much sadness inside. I still remember as a teen the first time I heard the word “depression” and was strangely elated to know that what I felt was a thing. A real thing. I lived with it, sought treatment and medication for it, and have been talking openly about it ever since.
Until May 11, 2015, when we learned our daughter had not awakened that morning, I had known sadness, but I had not known utter devastation. Of course, before that day, I’d faced emotional setbacks like almost everyone else: the loss of a parent, the loss of a job. But this – this was the absolute worst. As Rob says, if you’d asked him before that day if he was a happy person, he’d have said, “Yes.” And now? No. That goes for both of us.
Are we sad every minute of every day? Of course not. It’s like the story goes: you learn to dance again, but with a limp. (In fact, we were dancing together at home just the other night. Go figure.) Some days I look back at the first 53 years of my life and wonder why in hell I was ever sad. Of course, I know the answer now and I’m not sure I could have lived any differently if I’d known what was coming. I’m only grateful I knew what I had when I had it, you know?
So how do we keep going? You have to search for things that give you joy. If it’s a dreadful winter day or you think the sun is never going to shine again, you look through pictures you’ve taken of beaches and flowers – of things that warm your heart. If you’re lonely, you reach out to someone you’re missing. I am just so grateful for social media and myriad ways of keeping in touch with dear friends, and even with those I haven’t met yet, like so many people who drop in to this journal.
And most of all, if you’re in trouble and feeling like there’s no light on the horizon, no chance your days are going to get better, please ask for help. There’s no shame in saying “I’m in trouble.” My own mother’s life got so much brighter and happier – as did my father’s as a side effect – when she sought help for the depression that is a very dark and real rung on the ladder of our family’s DNA. At the time of her death one day short of 79, she was happy, fulfilled, grateful and loving life. Who wouldn’t want some of that?
If this is a blue Tuesday for you, too, book an appointment with your doctor. Life is too short to be so sad all the time. As a friend always says, if you were diabetic you’d see a doctor and perhaps take medication, right? Maybe it’s just a change in lifestyle that is in order; maybe it’s more. But whatever it is, it doesn’t have to be this way.