27 May 2019

Variability

Two of my favourite blogs are "Bless Our Hearts" and "Sparrow Tree Journal". Recently and separately the erudite authors of these blogs referred to feeling blue. No particular reason, Just an ineffable sense of feeling down in the dumps. 

For both Jennifer and Mary that dark, empty feeling may have been just a fleeting phase. Perhaps now they are back in the sunshine again. I hope so.

Their references to their black moods stuck with me and I thought about them even as I was rambling from Youlgreave the other day. We all want to be happy, to embrace happiness every day of our lives but in spite of ourselves most of us are incapable of nailing our colours permanently to the happiness mast.

Our moods rise and fall like currency graphs. We may don emotional armour and display to the world out there that we are okay when sometimes we are crying inside. The reasons are usually impossible to pin down.

Of course one might feel blue when bad stuff has happened. The loss of a pet. An unpleasant remark from a friend. Stress at work. Catching a nasty virus. But very often blue feelings can threaten to overwhelm us without reason or logic. You just feel down - secretly inside yourself. And more often than not you don't talk to anybody about the sensation. You just carry on, hoping that the graph will rise again.

We are all social beings but there's a part of each one of us that feels solitary. It's that voice inside our heads. The one that pulls us this way and that. Criticising us, complimenting us. There when we wake and there when we fall asleep.

Yes. It would be good to buzz with happiness every day of our lives but that's not the human way. We have our vulnerabilities, our hopes, our fears, our regrets. Arguably, we might be incapable of relishing periods of happiness if we didn't also have our dark days.

Through this blogpost, I wish to come out and admit that like Jennifer and Mary I also feel blue from time to time. The ever present voice screams silently inside and I torture myself with past failures, wondering when or if happiness will shine again. In a dark dungeon water drips and an unseen creature scuffles in the corner. That's just the way it is.

32 comments:

  1. Considering your default type of humour I read your subject line as "Failability". Same difference. We all have plenty of ability to fall and to fail. Some years ago I failed (three times in quick succession) by falling the wrong way - "Mama, you have to roll OFF your shoulder", the Angel repeatedly told me. All broken bones mended, I am as good as new.

    What you describe I have observed in a good number of people. I suppose one might call it the human condition. A certain melancholy which attaches itself like a shadow. Myself? I am of an incorrigible sunny temperament. For the first few years of my life I barely knew my name as everyone called me Sunshine or Sonny for short. So, though it happens momentarily, I rarely feel what you describe other than - and you rightly make the distinction - when there is a "reason". For me the reason usually when others disappoint me (be that by their inconsiderately dying or, worse, giving me the cold shoulder). My not comprehending results in the odd wave of tears welling up - not in my eyes, in my chest (call it heart if you will). It's an odd sensation - very physical. And then, like the tide it ebbs away. The last few years have given me plenty of practice in the ancient art of stoicism as both my parents and three siblings are no longer on speaking terms with me - for reasons not one of them has been able to explain, or is willing to explain. Silence, YP, silence. The cruelty of silence, no echo. Who'd have sunk it? Don't say I don't do things by halves: Instead of burying the dead, I have been forced to grieve for the living. They say there are five stages to grieving. I am at the last (acceptance) stage. No one steals my happiness - but for the odd moment of what you describe so vividly, and poetically, washing over me.

    I'd like to comfort you with some wise words. As I am happy go lucky I have none. As long as you take that palatable, in your writing, joy in your walks and ambles round the countryside you'll be fine. Just fine.

    Come to think of it that has always been my mantra: Everything will be fine. Just fine.

    U

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    1. Thank you for sharing this Ursula. It's nice to think that this blogpost caused you stop in your tracks and reflect a little. None of us are quite the same. Walking is indeed a kind of self-help therapy. As I delve into the woods or pass the bubbling steam or reach the hilltop, it is as if I am exploring my being. It's certainly more to me than a bit of exercise with a few photo opportunities thrown in. And yes - everything will indeed be just fine.

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  2. But see- you think of what some might call depression as a sort of fallibility and that's not right. As you say- it's just the human way. No one can be happy all the time. We all find ourselves in dark places now and then and you're correct- sometimes there are obvious reasons for this, sometimes there are not. Some of us are less inclined than others to go through these times. But it's not a fallibility. At least, I try to tell myself that. I don't think anyone ever wants to feel this way. And I'm sorry to hear that you are prone to the dark times too. I'm actually quite impressed that you have spoken of it- men are so often caught up in the weird belief that this is not how men should feel which adds yet another layer of awfulness to the situation. The thing that often makes me feel the worst about depression is that I am so lucky and have such an amazing life filled with so many good things and so much love. How DARE I ever feel sad or anxious or blue?
    Oh- if I only knew.
    Meanwhile, we do go on and we try our hardest to do the things that will help. We exercise, we stay engaged with life, we remember to be grateful. We do all of those things. And we are patient and eventually, yes, the light returns.
    Thank you for talking about this today, Mr. P. It might just help someone else to know that they are not alone. Not alone at all.

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    1. I have taken on board your reflections on my first title and replaced "Fallibility" with "Variability" Ms Moon. I think that whenever the dark and empty moods wash over us we must kind to ourselves.

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    2. Yes. Yes we do. We have to be kind to ourselves. We are not weak for experiencing what we experience and in fact, we are usually incredibly strong. Far stronger than anyone can know and far stronger than we ourselves realize.
      Take good care, friend. I am thinking of you.

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  3. I realised a long time ago that for me, at least, ups and downs come and go, but I'd rather have both than be the same all the time. There are times I've run along mountain ridges (literally and metaphorically) punching the air, and times I've stared down internal wells in tall buildings.

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    1. You put it very poetically Tasker. Take care next time you are running along a mountain ridge. You could so easily fall to the valley below...unless you have a parachute in your rucksack.

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  4. One of my loved ones suffers real depression and I think as a result I'm fairly knowledgeable about the condition even though I do not have it myself. I do, however, feel the everyday ups and downs. I think there is everyday variability, as you re-termed it, and then there's depression, and they are two different things.

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    1. I agree with you Jenny. Occasional bouts of the blues are nothing like real depression.

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  5. Thank you for this post. For many years I have dealt with medication-resistant depression. I rarely mention it for even today people judge you and look down on you for it. It is difficult to know happiness or to even get yourself to function beyond the most necessary tasks. Already I have said too much, but thank you.

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    1. It is an area of life that sometimes seems taboo but talking about our innermost feelings is surely a good thing Bonnie...if we can find people who are good at listening.

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    2. I'm sorry for that, Bonnie. Medication-resistant depression is a tough thing. My loved one's depression does not respond as well as we wish, either.

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  6. Of course I do not need to tell you that depression is not the same as having the odd blue day (or a few hours in the dungeon); depression is an illness that needs to be addressed properly, like all illnesses.
    Thankfully, I am one of those fortunate folks who rarely find themselves in that dark mental undercroft, and I am usually rather good at pulling myself up to the sunshine again. But I guess I would not be human if I did not know those feelings, too.
    As for Jennifer, what with the stress at work, her crazy neighbour and most of all the worries in connection with her beloved husband's health are enough reasons for anyone to feel blue.

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    1. Too late I have read Jenny_o's comment. Sorry for repeating the obvious.

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    2. Thank you for your typically thoughtful and humane input Meike.

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  7. Depression sucks the light out of life. It turns everything grey and it feels like you're trapped in molasses, every single movement needs to be forced, nothing is easy. I feel fragile when I'm depressed, like if I moved too quickly I would fracture into a million little pieces.

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    1. That is one hell of a definition of depression. Thanks for sharing it here.

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    2. It's very helpful for those who don't have actual depression to read and hear of explanations like yours, Lilycedar. We can get a better understanding because we can more effectively put ourselves in your shoes.

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    1. The blues and I are good mates...and I don't just mean those of John Lee Hooker,Buddy Guy, Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf, Stevie Ray Vaughan etc., etc., et al

      Many holes are fallen into...sometimes a miner's lamp would be a handy attachment..life is not always kind...memories are not always happy...

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    2. Now I am wondering about what you wrote eleven minutes earlier.

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    3. I deleted my previous response, Yorkie...because I noticed I'd made a typo....I'd typed "is" where, in fact, I should have typed "are"...nothing major! :)

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    4. How did you know that I was Major?

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  9. One thing you missed was the influence of medication. I'm on one that makes me feel blue sometimes. I have to stop and think what's causing it and them I'm alright. I wish your friends the best.

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    1. Many common medications have side effects - including low moods. You always sound steady and contented Red

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  10. There's a great little story I read somewhere recently about how, when a person dies without friends or family to mourn their passing, the Universe assigns the grief to a random human somewhere, and that's why we feel sad sometimes without knowing why. I like the idea of that.

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    1. That's pretty poetic but fanciful too.

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  11. Well what a thoughtful process of comments and a good subject YP. I don't think I suffer from depression, get really low sometimes, night time demons pass by. But like you have an outwards look on life, my love of the natural world pulls my mind away from the throes of anxiety. I like Jennifer's story it is very 'zen' like, the greater force of the universe always looks after the smallest.

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    1. Having know people who have suffered from clinical depression, I know that what I am talking about is just low moods from time to time. A good walk in the countryside - or even a city park is the best medicine.

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  12. We've all been there, I suspect. My own secret to happiness is finding joy in small things every day. I don't necessarily TRY to do that, but fortunately I seem to have the ability, and I think that saves me some heartache. (And probably annoys my blog readers when I'm writing about some bug or flower or item I found in the trash!)

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    1. For me, the reason for reading your blog is every description of bug and flower. Enjoy your blog very much.

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