“How are you?” they ask.
“Not great” you answer.
Sounds like a conversation from Very British Problems. Only instead of translating the answer (a bloody mess), I’ll translate the question (I don’t want you to tell me, I’m just being polite.)
As it happens that book and the Twitter account are great place for me to go when I feel “Not Great”. Humour works so well when it reflects back our way of thinking, and this is a gentle, unchallenging comedy.
People ask how you’re feeling to be polite. It’s not that people don’t care, it’s just you can go deep too quick with people and throw them completely. It is not that we shouldn’t answer honestly, it’s just sometimes feelings bubble to the surface.
As I wrote in my last post, if I find life around me a bit much I counsel myself “use this”. Use life as a an inspiration. And sometimes this strategy works. If nothing else it makes you step outside yourself. Using cognitive behavioural therapy, you challenge the thoughts you are having. You challenge the assumptions and maybe the narratives that underpin the story you are telling yourself. So that can be useful on “Not great” days.
One way we can think about this is the acronym THINK
But what do you do If your mind is too bogged down in the narrative that your brain is telling you? I don’t have any definitive answer (nor any medical training for that matter.) I have been thinking about the link between my own depressive moods and writing. It is hard not to at the moment, to be honest.
These are some things I did this last month to help my mood.
- I tried to reduce the overwhelm in my life by curling up in bed rather than demanding I write. I read or watched TV and forgave myself for the time off I needed.
- I looked at my work in progress as a whole. This sounds very overwhelming, but I went through and reviewed my spreadsheet, moved about a few scenes and made a list of what next. What needs writing if I do get the energy to carry on is highlighted on a list. And the sense of organisation helped marshal my scattered thoughts.
- All the organising things made me look around and sort out the house a bit. That helped too.
- I talked to my friends, I’m honest that I am not doing much at the minute. And I suppose this conversation spurs me on so that I do a tiny bit of writing again.
What my mood tells me more than anything is I need to be creative. The depressive symptoms are more like a suppression. Brought on perhaps by the new job where there are new things to learn. Less head space. Also brought on by letting the overwhelm overtake me. Also brought on by thoughts I find hard to process.
And this is the main thing I do to write through these moods, write and think in a journal. For no-one’s eyes. And writing means I am not blocked. Just resting between scenes.