A couple days ago, I was in a terrible head space. I know that's shocking, since I'm a regular dose of serotonin due to my sunny disposition, but it's the truth. Bad days come and, if we're lucky, bad days pack their bags and get out of dodge, hopefully without over-staying their welcome. If a bad day turns into a bad week it can get to be a bit daunting.
Recently, I've been thinking about being sad. Not me being sad, let me clarify, but the world being sad. Have you noticed how it's become taboo to be sad? No one is sad anymore. Everyone is depressed. I think the line between being sad and depressed isn't so fine. And I also think a lot of people are battling 'depression', when in reality they are simply battling discontentment, melancholy and general disappointment with the way their lives turned out. Not everything needs a dose of Prozac or Zoloft.
That said, I am, not in the slightest bit, looking down on people who are depressed. My concern really lies with people being misdiagnosed. A couple years ago, I went to the doctor and found out I'd gained close to forty pounds. Yikes! Imagine my surprise. I started crying, because no one wants to be a big, fat fatty. Especially when they had no idea. I know some people, mostly men, will question how I gained forty pounds (eighteen kilograms or almost three stone, depending on your country) without even knowing it. Well, I wasn't paying attention. To my body, head or heart, but that's a different blog for another time, isn't it?
My doctor asked if I was depressed. I stopped and thought about it. To be blunt, I didn't know! She asked me a few questions. Are you sad a lot? Do you like to go out? Do you still talk to your friends? How often do you cry? And I answered. Yes. No. No. Often. Then she asked if I thought antidepressants would help. I recoiled at the thought. No, really, I physically cringed. And here's why: I've never done any sort of drug. Not one. I balk at taking an Advil when a headache sets in.
And then I thought, why is she offering me this? I mean, was I unhappy? Yes, but I certainly didn't need pills to make it better. What I needed was a swift kick in the arse! Someone to say, wake the hell up and get your crap together. Of course, it took me almost a year more to actually pull myself out of the rut I was in.
The whole experience made me wonder how often 'unhappy' people were being diagnosed as 'depressed', and what the difference exactly was. I'd love to go into it, but this blog isn't actually about depression or being unhappy. In fact, I don't even know how I ended up on that tangent.
Regardless, the other day I was in a bad head space. And the worst part, it wasn't even mine! I'd contracted it from a friend. Actually, not even a friend. A friend of a friend, which actually makes me twice as irate, because not only did I allow myself to let someone else's mood affect me, but I didn't even know the person all that well.
The truth is, that day I woke up in a most glorious mood. No, really. It was amazing. To the point where birds flew in my open window and helped me get dressed. The bastards left before sweeping up, though. There was a bounce in my step, my hair was shiny, I was having a good ass day, meaning my ass looked surprising well in my undies, which doesn't happen all that often, and the weekend was approaching. Nothing could derail me.
Well, nothing except a fat mouthed friend of a friend who insisted on spreading her sourpuss ways to the world. I just happened to be her first victim. Recently, she'd gone through a break-up. An ugly break-up. I don't remember all the details, but apparently he was a lying, cheating scumbag from hell, or something like that. Since she knew I went through a break up not too long ago. she decided to contact me and ask when I knew I was ready to date again. The truth is, her message was ridiculously long and detailed and left me feeling a bit off. Of course, I'm wasn't going to let her observations that 'all men are assholes' and 'there's no such thing as real love' damper my mood, so I sluffed them off.
Not wanting to be rude, I did reply.
First, I articulated to her that it takes a different amount of time for everyone to mend their relationship wounds and, even with copious amounts of polysporin and band-aids, we can still come out with scars. Also, due to the harsh circumstances of her own break-up (and the anger wafting off her email), I suggested she work on her hurt a bit longer. I said, ideally, she wants to be as open to love as possible and, not only that, learn how to love herself, because her thinking 'her fat ass' and 'shitty job' is going to prevent her from snagging a man is toxic. This chick simply wasn't ready. And if she went forth into the dating world with her horns up and her nostrils flaring it was only going to end badly.
For some reason my email further set her off, which wasn't my intention.
"What," she said. "Let me guess, you're in love. LOL! Fucking delusional."
First off, she used 'lol' which is one of my biggest pet peeves. Second, who was this woman to call me delusional. So, then I told her, that in fact I am in love. Not only with myself, who I've been having an intense relationship with for the last year or so, but someone else, who means the world, stars, and moon to me. I didn't go into detail, because I'm a fairly private person, but my general happiness, healthy dose of optimism and good mood seemed to push her over the edge.
What she sent me back was, to say the least, rude. Not only did she indicate I was stupid for feeling affection for someone, but she made it clear that if her relationship with her ex couldn't work out none of them could. To only further ice the cake, she stressed how I'm going to be devastated when it doesn't work out for me. Something about how loving myself isn't going to keep me warm at night and that, essentially, I am still alone. Interestingly enough, she worded everything in a 'just trying to help you' manner. She even threw in an 'I don't want to see you get hurt again' and a 'try to remain guarded, you don't want to go through what I went through'.
I'm ashamed to say her jaded views sparked something in me. Her words stoked my cynical fires and, much to my chagrin, I found myself knee deep in a bad head space. The irony is, after the fact, I realized it was her pain speaking. She was hurt and lost and in search of sympathy. I bet she even knew she wasn't ready to date, she just wanted someone to tell her she was, so she could go out and try to get over her ex. But a new person doesn't heal you. They can help, but essentially, you have to heal yourself, especially if you ever plan on giving yourself to someone again.
This whole bad head space day made me think of the Tom Petty song "Don't Do Me Like That" off of the album Damn The Torpedoes. Basically, this guy's friend tells him a woman hurt his pride, told him that she loved him, then turned around and let him go. Then his friend tells him to watch his step or he's going to get hurt himself, that someone is going to tell him lies, cut him down to size. And then Tom Petty is all, "Don't do me like that, baby. Don't do me like that!"
The reality is, it isn't just Tom Petty and me who are susceptible to people's negativity and pessimism. We all are. And it's hard to deflect it. But, for the betterment of our souls, we need to try as hard as possible not to let other people drag us down. My problem is that I allow myself to absorb the feelings of those people around me, not to mention what's going on in the world, and it affects, more than I'm willing to admit. Because I really don't want revert back to my cynical, sarcastic, grumpy self, I wanted to come up with ways to clear my head.
That's when I read my friend Jane's blog on meditation. If you don't follow this blog, you should. Not only because Jane is smart, sexy and sensational, but because she writes about unique things. This post of hers was informative, interesting and, above everything else, encouraging. I've always been interested in meditating, but every time I try, my mind cartwheels off in a hundred different directions. I blame my over-active imagination and my attention deficit. These are excuses. The reality is, whenever I have tried to clear my head in the past, I've found it hard to confront who I am, which is why my mind kept turning. I'm not afraid of that now, because I love myself and there is nothing scary about looking inward.
After reading a bundle of articles on the subject, I asked another friend, one of the male sex, if he ever meditated. Apparently, according to him, you don't need to sit on a pillow, burn incense and chant. One can reach a meditative state a number of different ways. This was nice to hear, reassuring. Because incense gives me a migraine. He also mentioned something about a mantra.
And this sort of struck a chord with me. What I needed was something I could say to myself that would allow me pull out of my bad head space and let me release other people's anger, sadness and ridiculous behaviours, but to do so with love and understanding. The idea of a mantra is to keep you in the flow and on the right path. And I also wanted something that would remind me not to spread my own pain to others.
After some humming and hawing, I came up with something rather epic. I'm not going to tell you what the mantra I selected is, because it's personal, but rest assured, I have all our best interest at heart. I gave it a go this morning when I woke up at four and really didn't want to get going. It worked.
Now, all I need to do is convince everyone else to have their own mantras. Oh, and for us not to pass our bad moods on to other people. So, while my friend of a friend threw me off my groove, and that just wasn't cool, I take full responsibility for allowing her to do so. If only I had my mantra before this whole thing happened. I might have been spared my very bad head space.
Keep calm and say your mantra.