I'm going to level with you, guys. Being sad is hard.
Like, it's super duper lemon difficult. Did that make sense? It didn't need to.
It rivals the likes of heartbreak and grief in terms of the way that it seems inescapable and suffocating. This feels like you're at sea and can't even get your lungs clear of water long enough to cry for help. Moreover, you can see the waves coming and coming and breaking and crashing down on you, but you're never beached or released and deposited to the sandy beaches. Go figure.
But real talk. Sadness. It creeps and lurches and mottles and an all manner of other unsightly adjectives. We don't love it. We even fear that we can't love. Yeah, it gets dark, we know.
It sneaks up on you, that's the troubling part.
You can be minding your own business, thinking you were fairly content in your life situation, and suddenly you have an off day at work and stub your toe on the door and you're crying in the bathroom stalls at the gym. How did we get here? Why do we continue to get in this position every Friday night?
Questions, questions. I mean that's a great starting point for identifying what's happened. Or, as the case may be, not happened. Let's try to unpack the emotions that we're feeling and check them in as they pass through the threshold. Furthermore, add a 'Why' to each example and reason it out. Sometimes we need to hear things aloud, or in a funny accent, or very slowly for them to actually register. It's a way of getting out of our own headspace and trying to gain a little perspective.
Anger? Why are you angry?
Is that really the emotion that you're feeling at the moment, or is it frustration? Why did the toe stub hurt so much, how dare it? Moreover, why does your toe hurt so much less than your heart at the moment? Why does your heart hurt? You haven't talked to people for a few days and your phone's been dead down the side of the sofa for the best part of a week. Are you feeling lonely? Have you hugged anyone in a while? Have you called your parents? Had a full meal with vegetables and nutrients and things that might not corrode your liver like that whiskey and red bull combo you have going there?
No? Maybe try to engage with your needs.
Your body might feel a little numb; your emotions might feel spent. You may feel spiritually bankrupt.
But you can try to bring yourself to brush your teeth and wash your face. Or just have a mint and make sure you're cool enough. Or warm enough. Relax your jaw and unclench your muscles. Stand up, walk around for a minute in your room and sit back down again if it's all a bit much. If you're feeling more ambitious, go on a walk outside playing some great upbeat music. Or, lean into the angst with some Adele – maybe a mix. Furthermore, this is the time to seek out comfort and get out of your sad funk. That's not to say that you will never feel sad again, or that you will always remember what happiness feels like. I can't promise that.
Indeed, I wouldn't, even if I could. We need to take the ups with the downs. If we didn't have the darkness every now and then, we wouldn't know it from the light. Light is not the absence of darkness – both can coexist. Being in darkness means that you have work to do on yourself. Your perception. How you approach things. But, you can form your support system around you, or rediscover an old one again and find yourself wanted and comforted. Sometimes you just have to fall apart a little in order to figure out where you are. Find what pieces you lost down the side of the sofa. Yes, that sofa. See if they still fit. They might not, and that's utterly fine. Seriously.
People change, least of all us. I should hope so, otherwise it would make for a pretty uninteresting 80 or so years.
I know, change is scary but so is staying in the same place. Stagnating emotionally. We can't be sad forever, and we won't. Love that journey for us.
Despite all of this, I do appreciate that in the moment of feeling trapped, there is no escape. Well, there is. There just doesn't feel like there is. Here's where you need to know yourself. Normally, you need to try to not force certain emotions to emerge – you can't be happy through sheer force of will, unfortunately. Don't believe me? I've tried.
Here, you have to try to push yourself, though. Don't expect to be able to run a marathon for charity the next day for an endorphins kick and moral smugness. Therefore, that is a great thing to do, but it isn't necessarily what you need or should be focusing on. You don't need to worry about the outside world and what the people around you will think. Instead, focus on how you interact with the people you care about, and how they can help you. You deserve their attention and you need to allow yourself to be vulnerable and not close yourself off to people who are trying to help you struggle through.
So, yes – here you are, feeling sad. There's nothing unusual about that.
Everyone gets sad sometimes. Lots of people, in fact, are sad quite a lot of the time. It's not a matter of being 'strong enough' or mentally robust enough to 'deal with' things that are happening. Often, life is enough to stress people out, but when you introduce grief, tragedy or mental health issues to the general phenomena of sadness, you really do have to try to keep tabs on yourself. Even in small, manageable ways. Establish good habits that you can sustain easily over time.
Check that you've eaten recently, had a good sleep, and feel a comfortable temperature. Check that you are vaguely clean, and if not, that gives you a few purposes. A few productive checklists to work against. Try to wash yourself a little, or have something to eat. Even if it's soup, shortbread or an instant noodle. Something simple that you enjoy. Moreover, you don't need to push the boat out too far here. Just have a few practices to break even and look after yourself.
It won't make you magically stop feeling sad. But it will help.
Now, call a friend or watch Gilmore Girls. How about you combine both?!