Real Talk: When You're Feeling Blue

Just a few days ago, I wrote about my experience with SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) and the steps I take to combat it when I feel it creeping in. But I’ll be honest: in spite of all my good intentions, it just didn’t work for me today.

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I had a wonderful night last night; I went to a comedy show with Nick, my sister, her boyfriend, and two of our good friends, then came home and had a little raspberry sorbet and watched Big Mouth with Nick while snuggling the pups. I went to sleep, slept well, and then woke up and felt like the big purple depression kitty from Big Mouth was sitting on my chest.

I knew I needed to get up, do yoga, make breakfast - physically move myself out of a depressive state - but that’s the thing about depression, whether it’s seasonal or chronic: when it grabs you, you know a lot of things. But you just don’t care.

When it settles in, you know you need to move and sweat and take steps, whether physical or mental, to tackle it head on.

When it whispers, “What’s the point? Nothing’s ever going to change. This is how it’s always been and how it always will be,” you know the affirmations to put it in its place.

When it curls up around you like a blanket and you’re staring at the wall, feeling lonely and isolated, you know where to find love.

You just don’t care.

Or at least that’s how it feels for me. I’ve felt SAD hanging around, peeking over my shoulder, whispering in my ear over the last week. I called it PMS, I called it stress, I called it anything but what it was, because I felt like if I could ignore it, I could hold it off for a little bit longer. And I will be honest: this isn’t the worst bout of it I’ve ever had. But this morning, it felt like it was.

“You can’t fix everything, babe,” Nick told me. “You can’t carry it all. You gotta let it go.”

I know that, too. It’s just easier said than done. So I stayed under my blanket and stared at the wall for a while longer, until he basically (lovingly) forced me out of bed and onto the yoga mat. I flowed for 25 minutes, felt the blood running through my veins and the heat and sweat on my skin. I listened to my breath - in and out, in and out. I cried a little bit more - which is hard to do in the middle of a vinyasa flow - and felt sorry for myself, then did four pushups and pressed into upward dog, downward dog, and refocused.

Then I rolled up the mat. Got dressed. Made my vitamins. Went into the kitchen and made breakfast. Laughed at the dogs and how they try to stick their heads in our plates. Went outside and weeded and planted some marigolds and raked until I was sweating again. Looked up at the blue sky and the perfect weather (because it’s Georgia and it’s been dead of winter for days and then it feels like October again) and the dogs sitting on the porch, and Nick attacking leaves like they’ve personally offended him. Sat on the front porch steps and did a little bit of work on my computer. Helped Nick drag the leaves off.

when you're feeling blue

We’re about to go to dinner with his parents. The dogs are asleep and it’s dark outside already, and I still feel that shadow over my shoulder. But I’m writing this blog post - a huge step in itself, since I’m from a Southern Baptist family who has never once answered with anything other than “I’m fine, thanks, how are you?” when asked how we are - and I’m smiling because there’s a lot to be thankful for.

I remembered something this morning: just because it’s a bad moment doesn’t mean it’s a bad day. Just because it’s a bad day doesn’t mean it’s a bad week. And just because it’s been a hard year of change and growth, and there’s been a lot to carry doesn’t mean it’s a bad life, or that it’s always gonna be that way. “Change can be like sunshine, if you let it in.”

PS my mantra? A Bible verse that has gotten me through some of the toughest moments of my life: “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.”