Monday, February 10, 2014

The Dark Side


I’m sorry I’ve been a bit MIA here lately—ironically, or perhaps not as I’ll explain below—the author of a blog called Catching Happiness has been coping with a bout of depression.

I chose “catching happiness” as a theme for the blog because I’m not a naturally “happy” person. I’m naturally anxious and a little depressive. Since I know my default setting leans toward “sad” I work to look for the bright side, searching for the positive to counteract my natural tendencies, and mostly I’m able to maintain an optimistic outlook and attitude. When the dark side looms, sometimes there’s a triggering event, and sometimes it creeps up on me without my noticing…until I start to feel better, not realizing until then how unhappy I’d been feeling. Fortunately, I’ve never been suicidal, and I’ve never been so depressed that I couldn’t get out of bed. Sometimes, though, like during the past couple of weeks, it’s taken most of my energy to keep up with the basics.

Over the years, I’ve learned that during down times, I need routines and behaviors I can reach for when I begin to slide. The trick is making preparations before the darkness hits, because once it does, it’s too late to come up with ways to cope. To support myself, I focus on three things:

  • Comforts. My comforts include warm drinks like coffee and tea (my current favorite is pumpkin tea), settling under a throw blanket to read, using a heating pad for stressed-out achy body parts, warm baths (I see a definite trend towards warming myself), something funny to read and/or watch (what helped last week: Blandings), and pet therapy from Prudy, Scout and Tank.
  • Encouraging words. I have a stack of 3 x 5 cards with encouraging and uplifting quotes I’ve found, and when I’m down, I read them. Two of my Pinterest boards (Truth and Words Are Fun) focus on uplifting and encouraging words, and another contains pins that made me laugh. Posts from these blogs (click on name for a link to the post) have been helpful, as well: The Bloggess; Hyperbole and a Half and Stepchick. And instead of withdrawing, I’m working on communicating better with friends and family.
  • Small, practical things I can do, for myself and for others, to take myself out of my head. I often choose a small task that has been bugging me—the feeling of accomplishment on completing it is larger than the effort it takes to do the task. It could be as small as cleaning the faucet in the kitchen or replacing the batteries in the clock. Anything that will give me a checked off item on a to-do list.
I know that I’m very blessed and fortunate. My life is filled with precious gifts I am deeply grateful for, and I hold tight to those things, including my blog and all of you, when the dark side threatens. I appreciate your patience with me while I work things out. Regular posting to resume shortly!

Do you have any special ways you comfort yourself during difficult times?

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15 comments:

Laure Ferlita said...

((Hugs))

Kathy A. Johnson said...

Thanks, Laure--hugs accepted!

Cheryl Gebhart said...

So sorry you've been feeling down lately. I hope you're feeling better by now.

Anonymous said...

I find that getting outside, soaking up a little sunshine and fresh air helps me tremendously, especially when that is done with a friend. Hope you are feeling better.

Kathy A. Johnson said...

Thanks, Cheryl. I am feeling somewhat better.

Kathy A. Johnson said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kathy A. Johnson said...

Anonymous--Fresh air and sunlight do help...we are having a few days of beautiful weather right now (neither too hot and sticky or too wet and cold) so I am taking advantage of that.

Feathers said...

So sorry you've been feeling down--Be sure to treat yourself well--I've found that lying in bed late causes me to think too much--not always good--once the bed is made, I always feel better. Special breakfast is always good, french toast--homemade biscuits, etc. --Then too, a lazy, aimless trip into town, poking around in a thrift or antique store or a used book store can lift my spirits, discovering something that somehow is special to me, yet not costly. Sending virtual hugs-=-Anita.

Danielle said...

I'm so sorry to hear you have not been feeling well--and this is a particularly difficult time of year to deal with feelings of depression. I wish we lived closer and we could meet for a cup of tea and a nice chat or an afternoon at a good bookstore! I have those same sorts of feelings, but like you I can manage to get myself out of bed--but it is still difficult in finding happiness in ordinary things. I know you just have to work your way through it until you feel better. A good pile of books or some fun movies is usually my solution (I am especially a fan of old Doris Day movies!). Stitching also helps me--something crafty or creative. The days are at least getting longer thankfully and hopefully the sun is shining there! Take good care of yourself and I look forward to when you are up to chatting about books again. I have become a great fan of hot water bottles--warm cozy blankets and a nice cup of coffee, tea or hot chocolate! Definitely pamper yourself! And be well!

Kathy A. Johnson said...

Anita--Thank you for your kind words and encouragement (and virtual hugs). Making sure there are enjoyable moments and experiences to look forward to throughout the day does help for sure. A used book store is a happy place for me, as is the library.

Kathy A. Johnson said...

Danielle--I wish we lived closer, too--I would love to have a cup of tea, a chat and a visit to a bookstore together. How lovely that would be! We have been having some great weather the past few days (not too hot or too cold, and sunny) and that really helps. I can open up the windows and get some fresh air inside. I've been finding a mix of accomplishing things and pampering myself is helping, too. I love Doris Day movies, but I haven't watched one in a while. I'll have to see what I have on hand!

Debbie Nolan said...

Dear Kathy - thank you first of all for sharing. I think most of us have those down times...we wouldn't be human if we didn't. Like you a routine helps...also when life's shadows come I do a great deal of "looking up"! I hope you will be feeling better soon. Now can I come have a cup of tea with you - I love those warm drinks as well.

Sketchbook Wandering said...

Sorry to hear of the dark time...Old November, December, and January can be tough...too much darkness....Yes, routines & lists are important for me. Comedy films. Art. Getting outdoors even with resistance.

Kathy A. Johnson said...

Debbie--Thanks for your good wishes. You're welcome here for a cup of tea anytime!

Kathy A. Johnson said...

Rita--Usually winter in Florida is one of my favorite times of year--our weather is mostly a lot nicer than the rest of the country. This winter, however, I've been struggling. If I can manage to keep to the routines and the planning of simple pleasures, that helps a lot. Sometimes it feels like too much effort and that's when I run into the dark side.