Yesterday was a particularly interesting day. I spent most of it in bed, despite it being a weekday. I don’t like doing this. I don’t like wasting my time when I have a long ‘to-do’ list. I absolutely despise laying in bed and thinking about all the things I have to do. It makes me anxious and slowly drives me batty. So why do I do it? Why do I allow myself to be lazy when I know there a million other productive things that I could be doing? Why do I let myself get anxious and worried but then give up and just keep laying in bed?
I’ve felt like I’ve been in a bit of a funk lately. The past few days have been very stressful, for no particular reason. I’ve been feeling a lot of pressure lately on the adulthood spectrum and it’s apparently taking a toll on me. And unfortunately, I’ve seemed to have run out of coping mechanisms and I may have to ride this funk out and accept being sad. At least for now. As someone who has dealt with many funks and depressing periods over the past 7 years of my life, it’s frustrating to be at that point. It makes me want to shake my fists and scream like a child and throw things. It makes me feel useless and unproductive and vulnerable.
I don’t like accepting the ‘bad feelings’. I thrive on positivity and feeling good and enjoying life. So when I get into the occasional bad mood period, it drains my energy in a way, which then leads me to wanting to stay in bed all day and do nothing but watch Netflix and eat food rather than meals. Which is super lame to do multiple days in a row if you ask me.
But something I’ve realized is that, sometimes, we have to accept the bad days. We are all human. We all have emotions. Our emotions are not all peppy and wonderful and positive. We get angry, we get upset, we cry and scream and yell and get pissed off over stupid, minute things. Because we are human. And this is okay.
The past 7 years of my life have been full of bad days and counseling appointments and trying to get back to a ‘normal’ emotional spectrum because I didn’t have that for a long time. My depression drained me of normal emotions, so in a way I suppose I began to associate negative feelings with being extremely depressed and being in a hole I couldn’t dig myself out of. But now, as an adult who has overcome these obstacles, I’ve had to remind myself constantly that bad days happen. They are real and a reality of human existence.
So I must remind myself, over and over; bad days are okay and chaos is okay. Peace always follows and you will feel whole again. Let yourself feel sad, upset, angry. Don’t push these emotions away or ignore them because you are supposed to have them. Accept this.
The most important thing I’ve learned from accepting chaos is the practice of self-care. In counseling, this is something that is touched on often and stressed all the time. Even if you are having a bad period, it’s important to take care of yourself, whatever that may mean to you.
Personally, I always feel better after showering. There’s just something so cathartic of going through the motions of showering, letting yourself go into autopilot, and get nice and clean. Of course, sometimes this means I hop out of the shower and right back into bed, but it perks my spirit a little, which then makes me feel better.
I’ve also, in a very strange and ironic way, grown to love the practice of yoga. Now I know what you’re saying, fellow mental illness friends: OMFG MY COUNSELOR AND PSYCHIATRIST ALL TELL ME TO DO YOGA AND MEDITATE AND PRACTICE DEEP BREATHING OAIJODIJA IT’S NOT THAT EASY.
To that, I reply: I know. It isn’t that easy. Yoga is not a quick fix or the end to your illness. And never in a million years did I think I would endorse the practice of yoga as a self-care mechanism, but here I am! For many years, I thought the idea of mental health professionals pushing physical activity as a ‘fix’ was dumb. You cannot simply tell someone who has unbalanced brain chemistry that exercise is going to cure them because it’s simply not true! But here’s the thing.. I think it can be a fix, just not the cure.
Obviously, there is no cure for a chemical imbalance within the brain. Not even the drugs used to treat it will cure it. They only treat the symptoms and allow the brain to function normally. However, there are ways we can tackle that obstacle we’ve been given. And I think yoga and other exercises could possibly be it.
But the thing is, maybe it won’t be right away. I know that, 7 years ago when I started counseling, I would have never practiced yoga for self-care. Hell, not even two years ago do I think I would. I scoffed at my counselor when she suggested guided breathing and meditation. So yes, yoga and other physical activity can be a great self-care option and a ‘helper’ with depression and other mental illnesses. But it won’t fix it completely on it’s own. And of course, I think there’s a right time for everything.
Finally, a thing that works the best for me, is self-assurance. If I know I’m having a bad day and I won’t accomplish my whole list of things to get done, I accept this but tell myself, ‘That’s okay, everyone has these days. Don’t stress. You’re not the only one and you’re not worthless because of it. Just breathe and maybe get a few minor things done’. This helps a lot with my anxiety. Like I said before, I don’t like wasting time. It racks up and makes me feel useless and vulnerable, in a very strange way. However, I’ve come to realize that it’s okay to have lazy days. Allowing yourself to have that lazy day and putting away the to-do list is okay. It is totally and 100% okay.
Even allowing yourself a few days to laze around and be a home-body is okay too! I’ve done that before by telling myself, ‘Okay, you can have a few days. However, after those few days, we need to straighten up a bit and clean this room. But for now.. Put your sweatpants on and watch another episode of Game of Thrones’. (I will mention, this tip is also great for breakups. Allow yourself those few days to sit in your emotions and cry and feel what you’re feeling. But then, pack them up, and move on to better things to distract yourself. Works like a charm.)
I think this idea of allowing yourself to be upset and lazy and maybe even a little sad is weird to some people. As a society, I feel as if we try to hide those negative emotions. Actually, I take that back: I absolutely KNOW that we hide those negative emotions. I mean, have you seen the stigma around mental illness lately? Phew.
But we need to dig deep and let our emotions out. There’s no use in hiding them when we’re emotional beings. They’re meant to be felt, not stored away and turned off. So let yourself be not okay. Let yourself eat whatever and binge watch some shows or maybe curl up with some books, if Netflix isn’t your thing. Whatever makes you feel good, do that. Practice copious amounts of healthy self-care, whatever that means to you.
And always know that the bad days do not outweigh the good. Like my favorite saying goes (and I paraphrase here a bit..), you’ve had plenty of bad days to get through and so far, your track record reads 100%. So don’t let this one get you down. Everyone is stronger than they think.