We all have our good days and our bad days. Some days simply flow from start to finish— you wake up, scroll through social media, and get caught up on what you missed while you were in dreamland for the last 8 hours (or if you’re like the rest of us, the last 4-5 hours), go to the bathroom to empty your bladder (which all of a sudden feels like you’ve chugged a gallon of water and haven’t see a bathroom in days), and finally go prepare the morning cup of stimulus for the body and brain so you can actually evolve into a functioning member of society.
From there, your day goes on as scheduled: answering work emails (if that’s something you have to do for work), looking at spreadsheets, reluctantly preparing for Zoom calls by putting on a shirt that isn’t too dirty, and pretending to chuckle at the bad joke one of your coworkers just made on the call. Time goes by and the day isn’t too bad. Moments of reality may set in from time to time as you take some unscheduled social media breaks to get caught up on the happenings of the day. Something funny a friend Tweeted and something cute another friend or celeb posted on Instagram are all sources of entertainment until a news article about something more real comes along to remind us that things aren’t very great in the world right now.
But alas, you have a job to do because you have a paycheck that you need and upcoming bills with your name on them, so back to work you go. Before you know it, it’s past 5 p.m. and time to sign off for the night. An after-work snack finds it’s way from the fridge to your hands, followed by an afternoon workout to make you feel better about the snack. Then there’s dinner, maybe a few episodes of your favorite show at the moment, and just like that, it’s time for the bedtime routine already.
While some days are simply that easy, others aren’t always so cut and dry. Others can very well be much longer and a lot more difficult to get through. These are the days where we find ourselves questioning more than anything: Why am I here? Why aren’t I happy? What can I do to make myself happy? It’s these days where the world seems just a little darker than usual, through no fault of our own and seemingly for no reason at all.
The darkness almost always varies—at times it’s a subtle darkness. The gray days where you might just feel a little sluggish and would’ve preferred to be curled up in bed watching something binge-worthy on Netflix rather than heading out the door for work or even walking a few steps to your desk to your new work-from-home setup. While these days are still frowned upon; they don’t compare to the deeper darkness that, on rare occasions, pops up and takes you for a spin you weren’t aware of nor ready for. It’s different for everyone. Different timing, different effects, and different methods with which we chose to cope. There isn’t really a black and white answer for everyone across the board because everyone will experience these darknesses to varying degrees and need various methods to counteract the effects.
For some it might be throwing themselves into their work days and trying to forget how they’re feeling altogether. This is a tricky one, since depression has a funny way of rearing its ugly head no matter how many distractions you can conjure up. While avoiding and evading one’s own feelings may work for some, others may find it harder to simply push through. Those days where emotions are crippling and all you want to do is stop feeling, there’s nowhere to run, nowhere to hide. No distractions to take you away from what you’re experiencing. It’s simply a ride that you have to wait out and hop off of as soon as it lets you.
It’s quite disheartening to really think about—we just have these emotions that we can’t control that can come on at any moment and stick around for however long they want. However, even though we don’t have control over the emotions themselves and their amount of time spent with us, it’s easy for us to forget just how much control we have over ourselves and what we do to help. What we do for ourselves in these moments and outside of them can be crucial.
These mood swings don’t have to be the be-all and end-all. As mentioned, everyone is going to have those days where things just aren’t great, no matter how seemingly “great” things may appear around you. That’s just life and we have to accept it for what it is.
All we can do is go with the flow of the lows when they come and not lose track of the reason we see them through till the end. It’s because without the lows, we wouldn’t get to know and appreciate the joys and boundlessness of the highs. It’s that contrast that keeps things in perspective. It’s what makes playing tennis, even if just hitting by yourself against a wall at the park on a beautiful day, or sipping a warm and soothing cup of tea on a quiet chilly night so inexplicably serene. Hold onto these moments. Appreciate them and remember them the next time it gets dark.