By STEPHANIE PRICE
A reader recently commented about this column: It is depressing, she wrote. When I read her critique, I was mildly surprised. I aim for thought-provoking, sometimes amusing, maybe even a little raw and real. I like informative, personable, relevant.
But depressing? Am I depressing? Now that is a bummer.
Today, though, I think that reader’s comments have merit. You see, I am a little bit blue, and I decided to write about it.
It’s not that I think readers should be interested in my emotional life; it’s that I’m pretty sure I’m not alone in my transient bluesiness. You might have it too, and we might explore it together.
“Transient bluesiness” — here’s how I’d define it: You wake up and just feel “down.” Circumstances might be a little troublesome, as in there is something challenging going on, but your bluesiness is not, necessarily, related to circumstances.
You’re just blue. It’s a sad sort of feeling.
The feeling is not quite enough to make you want to crawl back in bed for the day, but it is enough you have to force yourself to get up and do what’s next. I recognize I have this transient bluesiness when I’m not excited about things that usually motivate me.
LIKELY SOMEONE WOULD, rightly, lambaste me if I did not tell you that was no official diagnosis and that if you have symptoms of clinical depression, you should see a health professional. So see a health professional; get an assessment; see what treatment options are available to you. Resources from online assessment tools to nurse practitioners to psychiatrists to support groups to books to medication are, today, vast and accessible in the U.S.
In my case, I am pretty sure I do not qualify as “clinically depressed” but, instead, have this “transient bluesiness” as I have described it. “Transient” means it comes and goes. I rarely have it for more than a day — if that — and it impacts my daily living very little.
Here’s what I chalk it up to:
One, hormones. For me, hormones are the greatest mystery of the human body. Their interplay, their effects, their seeming instability — ack, it makes them maddening. Hormones are involved in everything from digesting food to having babies to emotional responses while watching your children play. They’re constantly working to get and remain “stable” in your body, and nearly anything — lack of sleep, a poorly timed meal, a worrisome event, nursing a baby — can send them buzzing all over. I’m perimenopausal and nursing a toddler, among other things. Go figure.
My second I-chalk-my-bluesiness-up-to is just life in general. Humans are strugglers. We’re born dying, if you want to think of it that way. Truth is, life is hard.
So, even without all the self-imposed pressures we have — to make money, say, or keep a house nice or raise smart, beautiful children — we have the basic pressures of eating, sleeping and staying warm. Pressure just to survive.
And it’s not a kind world, not really. Things are broken and ailing. People — me included — are selfish and hurtful. While I’m not so sure about the Theory of Evolution in its entirety, it is clear we live in a “survival of the fittest” world, and it takes a lot to stay fittest.
A wise man once told me depressed people simply see things as they really are.
Ech. Now I’m understanding that reader’s assessment. Let me move on.
My third chalk-it-up-to is diet. Plenty of good scientists are working to prove it, but I am sure what we eat has far more to do with every single aspect of our health than we realize. Every single aspect, even our emotional health.
Did you know your brain’s main source of energy is glucose — blood sugar? It makes sense, then, that when blood glucose levels are wacky your brain and your emotions feel it. We have an epidemic in the U.S. of what some call “diabesity” and we have a highly depressed nation.
A midwife once told me when a laboring mother gets weepy to get that mother some calories, preferably some kind of quick sugar. Sure enough, a suck through a honey straw helps her feel better nearly instantly. Blood sugar, people. Amazing.
SO, WHAT DO I do about this transient bluesiness? Like I said, if you have symptoms that need professional assessment and treatment, go get a professional opinion.
How I manage these feelings is pretty simple.
One, I admit I feel this way. If nothing else, if you tell someone, that someone is paying a little closer attention to you. Sometimes my husband has just the right words to help me set the course for an otherwise “depressing” day.
Two, I “allow” myself to feel this way. I don’t shy away from euphoria; why, then, would I shy away from bluesiness? I remind myself each is part of the human experience, and even if feelings are unpleasant, there can be satisfaction in experiencing them.
Three, I get out of myself and focus on something else, most likely the needs of my family. I learned this years ago: Selfishness is almost always my problem and never my solution. So, I don’t focus on “me.” I get the focus off of me. When I throw myself into meeting the needs of others, I find my own needs are met far better than I could have met them by taking a “me day,” which is advice you’re likely to get on a magazine cover.
Four, at the same time, I do make sure to take care of basics for myself. I eat well, sleep well and exercise. I sit down when I need to. I turn the phone off or take the day slowly.
I’m already feeling a little better, so I thank you for reading. Hope it wasn’t too depressing.
Goshen News columnist Stephanie Price is a wife, mother, teacher, childbirth educator, midwife’s assistant and nursing student from Elkhart. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org, 269-641-7249 or on Facebook at the page “Whole Family Column by Steph Price.”