I am currently preparing myself for a crash.
I’ve been on an up and down since October, but the ups have been stunning and glorious. I don’t mean manic highs, just the kind of excitement and anticipation of finishing my book which means the world to me.
But since what goes up must come down, I know that when it is done, when I have it in my hands, there will be a crash.
This is just human. We cannot live in a sustained state of happy, it’s not possible.
So I am preparing myself for that.
Here’s what I’m not doing, I’m not trying to set up something that will take my focus away from these feelings, try to push them into the back of my mind.
I know this sounds counter-intuitive, and maybe unhealthy, but I don’t think so. I don’t think it is unhealthy to want to feel sadness or even a sort of grieving, which this will be. I think it’s healthy to want to be with those emotions, to feel them, and then…let them go.
If we ignore these things, that smoldering emotion can show up in other ways.
What should you do at these times?
I don’t know, what feels right for you?
For me, I’m lining up ideas. I’m going to let myself feel whatever it is that’s in my heart, and I’m going to respond however it makes sense at that moment; I’ll no doubt cry, this is a 25 year project which is deeply meaningful to me, then I’ll employ three of my best non-alcohol defense mechanisms; sleep, daydream, hide away in the dark like a troll awaiting its next billy-goat, and process the emotions.
And then, I will center and get to the next thing.
I’m telling you all of this because I think we in the U.S. specifically are too wrapped up in “we must be happy/sadness is bad.”
No, sadness is not bad, sadness is human. Telling someone to “smile, you’ll feel better!” or “oh, it’s not that bad” or my personal favorite “if you changed your gladitude you’d be fine!” (“gladitude” is a real thing that someone actually said with their mouth and larynx and got paid for doing so.) All of these glib phrases can be truly offensive to someone who is suffering, regardless of why. Pain is not a contest, yours may not be equal to someone else in magnitude, but it is exactly as valid. So these well-meaning platitudes are rude, actually.
But for us, they can be deadly.
Telling someone with a mental illness to get over it or just smile is beyond dangerous. By its nature depression and its friends tell us that we aren’t good, that we are broken, and other damaging messages. So this could be the last straw for someone already suicidal.
But if you can still talk yourself through the sadness, it’s a good thing to do, in whatever way resonates with you.
It can be an issue for people with jobs, kids, school, anything that takes up your time and energy and leaves you with little left for yourself. I understand I’ve been there.
If you have the luxury as I currently do, to be with your sadness and process it, that is wonderful.
But if you can’t, if you are too overburdened, I hope that you can find a way to get a moment, even just a moment, to be with it.
If you can’t do this because you are in an unsafe place, if you’re in an abusive relationship or feel too far down the pit of depression to try to do it by yourself, I’ve included some links below that could be of help. Please do not try to do this alone if you are not sure.
Otherwise, let me know in the comments what you do in these moments for self-care, I’d love to see your ideas.
Because yeah, I’m about to crash.
SAMHSA’s National Helpline is a free, confidential, 24/7, 365-day-a-year treatment referral and information service (in English and Spanish) for individuals and families facing mental and/or substance use disorders.
National Suicide Prevention Hotline
We can all help prevent suicide. The Lifeline provides 24/7, free and confidential support for people in distress, prevention and crisis resources for you or your loved ones, and best practices for professionals.