We all go through it. It happens. We have that occasional bad day.
Depression is defined as having a lot of bad days one after the other to the point that you stop functioning like a normal person. But what if you have many, many bad days one after the other – and yet you can function almost like a normal person if you modify the definition of normal by an inch or two? Are you still depressed or just blue or are you suffering from general melancholy?
I’ll be honest. I’m not a happy person. I’m not the cheerleader with the pompoms. I used to be the glass is half empty kind of person, but now I’m older and have become the “there’s no glass” kind of person.
My husband says I always need something to be down about. He doesn’t say it in that negative, you’re never happy accusatory sort of way, but in that matter of fact, you have brown eyes sort of way. The man does know me and it is in fact true. I like to worry about stuff. I feel things way too deep until my insides are bleeding. I cry when I watch movies because I’m affected. I worry about my friends who’re unhappy. I worry about a meeting. I worry about not having anything to worry about. (Yes, my husband is a saint for living with me.)
I sometimes surprise friends when I ask them, “Do you ever want to just drive off Thelma & Louise style and end it?” They look at me baffled and shake their head cautiously and my husband calmly says to them, “No, she isn’t suicidal, she just has weird thoughts.”
I’m not suicidal. But, yes, sometimes I do wonder if there is much meaning to life and if maybe driving off the cliff wouldn’t be such a bad idea. Then I remember how my mother said that if I wanted to commit suicide I should find a really high building or a fool proof way to do it otherwise I’d just end up with broken bones or the wrong kind of degree burns and a miserable life thereafter.
I don’t want to end my life. I want to live my life. But being a storyteller has this downside that you want to see every thought through to the end to see where it takes you. So I might start the thought with, “This is a shitty day and traffic sucks” and then I take that thought over the cliff.
This constant seeing things through (and no, there are no happy endings) means that I’m pensive at times and wandering off on strange mental journeys. This also results in me being bluer than most others.
People tell me that I need to be happier. I need to think positive thoughts and be more optimistic and believe in the universe and I say, “There’s no glass.”
I believe that being down has its benefits and it’s important to be sad once in a while otherwise how will you know when you’re happy?
An Australian psychology professor concurs and he actually did research to prove his point. According to him mild negative mood and sadness help us deal with certain kinds of problems that require vigilance, concentration and careful attention to the world around us. His studies specifically suggest that being in a bit of a bad mood makes you your memory shaper and you’re less prone to judgmental errors and you’re less gullible. Another added advantage is that you become better communicators and persuaders.
My sister, who is a strong advocate of “The Secret” is always after me for not thinking happy thoughts. According to her if I only thought happy thoughts, good things would happen to me, which would make me happy. I don’t subscribe. I can’t be happy all the time. If I’m happy all the time how on earth am I supposed to be a writer?
The other day we met a playwright who’d written a play about his childhood and he told my husband that he had a bad childhood and the play was cathartic. I told him that it always helped to write about the shitty stuff that happens to you because it does release the demons. The playwright then asked my husband if he was a writer and my husband shook his head and said, “I had a great childhood. That’s why I’m not an artist.”