“We Just Have To Learn How To Get Through These Very Bad Days”

That title is from Beth Henley’s Crimes of the Heart, from the scene where Meg pulls Babe’s head out of the oven when she’s trying to kill herself. Meg asks why, and Babe says something like “It was a very bad day,” which is the reason they’d all given for their mother hanging herself in the basement. And Meg says, “We just have to learn how to get through these very bad days.”

This is a skill I must master.

How bad did it get? I was bringing Lani home after dropping her car off at the repair shop again–that car must be completely rebuilt by now–and we were both depressed as hell, but as she got out, she turned to me and said, “It’s all going to be all right.”

And I looked at her and said with absolute sincerity, “No, it’s not.”

Yeah, ol’ Nothing-But-Good-Times-Ahead finally hit bottom.

I think it was just a perfect storm of things and it knocked me off my game. I know how lucky I am–hell, I have a JOB–but there are so many uncertainties that I’m having a hard time finding a safe place to stand. Sometimes you just need to hold onto one thing that’s sure and safe, and if you can’t find one thing that’s not up in the air with the potential for disaster, well, that makes it hard to breathe. Add to personal stress the knuckle-draggers in Congress who have managed to trash the US credit-rating while protecting the rich, and the general ass-hattery of politics in general, mixed with the horrible jobs and real estate markets, and I needed a cookie badly.

Of course I could have come back here and posted about how depressed and anxious I was, but really, who the hell needs that? I’m one of the luckiest people I know, who am I to bitch about a few setbacks? If I don’t have anything to contribute, I should just shut the fuck up. So I shut the fuck up. Hence the long silence.

Now things have shaken out a little and I’m coming up for air. I’ve hung on using my general coping tactics–music, crochet, chocolate, dogs–and I’ve got some good stuff to look forward to now–you need some good future coming up even if it’s little stuff–but I’m not out of the woods yet, and neither, I’m betting, is most of the country.

So here’s what I want to know: When you start going down for the third time, not just “I’ve had a bad day” but “No, it’s not going to be all right,” what do you do? Drugs are out, addictive and expensive, and probably shopping, too, for the same reasons. What’s a cheap, easy, effective coping tactic for getting through the very bad days (weeks/months . . .)?

Because my oven is electric, so that’s not a solution.

300 thoughts on ““We Just Have To Learn How To Get Through These Very Bad Days”

  1. Hmm. I’m rather here now. But I am on drugs–they’re actually necessary, but fortunately affordable. However, the drugs are low dosage, and sometimes I have to do other things to keep my serotonin up. This is where I should say “yoga” and “exercise”, but we live in the real world and we know we’re not doing that.

    I like fudge pops. I also like romantic comedies (though we know how much those have been sucking lately. Fortunately Crazy, Stupid Love is really really good if you need a field trip.) Some days are so depressing I put in Harry Potter. Harry Potter is my crutch. The antics are fun; the friendships remind me of my own; and it’s so far removed from the realities of my crappy life that it’s a nice distraction.

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    1. Wierdly, I second the Harry Potter suggestion-both the books and the films.Or something else you find epic and absorbing, Doctor Who or somesuch. Somehow losing myself in the epic battles changes my perspective, and I can be much more “this too shall pass”. I am also on a low dose of necessary drugs, lol. If I can summon up the mental energy, exercise helps too. But that’s a lot to ask of a system that just wants to fade from the stress.

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  2. The only thing I can come up with is – I read. Of course, I read all the time, but when times are bad, I read with the purpose of feeling good, hopeful, whatever. I read to fill my half-full glass back up.
    Sometimes this backfires, though. I, like most people I know, are in the place you’re in right now, too. Rug being pulled out from under me on many fronts. So I’m reading. And the main character is writing a letter and says – “You are true north.” And I am floored. Why can I not think of one single person in my life whom I can confide in and know what they will say is worth hearing because they are true north?
    Don’t know if I’ve been the part of the solution or part of the problem, here. I have been truthful, though.

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    1. Forgot to say one of my favorite reads when I’m a little depressed is Maybe This Time. I must have read that book 20x by now. I love Andie and I love North. All the sub characters, too.

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  3. Geez, I’m not sure of the solution. Every once in a while I look at the amount of meds I have — including the ones that didn’t work but I keep them anyway — and think “well, it would probably be enough.”

    Hell, I Just sent an email out to a bunch of folks asking them for life-support while I go deal with Mom’s stuff and the anniversary of her death. But I’m really lucky to have these friends, online and in person, and hey, I get to spend 2 weeks on the Oregon Coast. Bonus, right?

    My weeks and months of very bad days — how did I get thru them and how am I continuing to get thru them? Getting up every day. A blog devoted entirely to therapy and detailing my very bad days. Email with relentless optimists (okay, some days I want to strangle them). An old friend who’s completely in tune with my “all life sucks and I wish I were dead” days and will listen as long as I talk. Medication. LOLcats (thousands and thousands of them). Failbook. And reminding myself that I promised my mom to hang in there.

    I’ve got no solutions that bring a person up to actual happy, but I’m working on them and will share when I get them.

    My friend offered this:

    Remember the differences between optimism, pessimism, and realism:
    – Optimism: my glass is half full!
    – Pessimism: my glass is half empty!
    – Realism: I have a glass with water.

    So at least I have a glass of water. And as I mentioned to dear Deborah Blake, sometimes I can substitute fizzy water with lemon, just for a little lift. Maybe when life sucks, have a glass of San Pellegrino with a slice of lemon or lime. And imagine you’re at the Oregon Coast.

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    1. My methods of coping…. vent to friends who will understand and support you. Don’t deny myself comforts like comfort food, or comfort reads. I usually go for comfort reads. The power of escapism shouldn’t be scoffed at. It’s like a mental vacation to a sane, happy place until you can be sane and happy IRL.

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    2. To which I say–if you can have prosecco instead of water, you may enjoy that half-empty glass a lot more 🙂

      My answer is BOOKS (I like to reread Crusies, but that would probably make you stick your head in the electic oven, so maybe someone else funny and witty and quirky), good friends, and the aforementioned prosecco. Or I listen to Alastair singing “On Skullcrusher Mountain.”

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  4. Oh, btw, I remember that scene in the movie. I remember that being said. And I still laugh thinking about Sissy Spacek coming down the staircase trailing that chandelier behind her after she tried to hang herself. Priceless.

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  5. PS: And remember — you can always just spend a day in bed with the dogs and do nothing else. It’s okay. Life will still be there when you feel like getting up.

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  6. Jenny – I am glad that things are looking up and that you have some positives on the horizon. Please know that we do not mind if you only post that you are depressed and anxious. We worry about you when we do not hear from you. Everyone on Argh loves you and we want to shower you with love and support as best we can.

    My old stand by is Ben and Jerry’s Chunky Monkey. Somehow, everything things brighter with a mouthful of banana ice cream and a deep sigh of contentment. Next best is Blue Bunny MintChocolate Chip, but I feel much more gulity if i nearly a whole container of (1.75 Qts) than the pint of Chunky Monkey!

    When I was at my worst “No it’s not” point, besides the ice cream cure all, just spending time with good friends who I could talk to about anything and everything helped more than they will know. They wanted to help and their just being there made things bearable.

    So take a pint or two of Ben and Jerry’s and head for Lani or Krissie or both!

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  7. When the shitstorms of life happen all at once, I just hang on, complain and ask for pep talks from my friends IRL and online (Thanks, Julie!!), and I read to escape to a place that has a solution at the end! My life is one big shitstorm at the present time and though I am glad to have a job, I’m also at the point of wondering how it can be worth the stress and unhappiness it is currently causing me……

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  8. Well, I don’t know if it will be the answer, but I’ve been reading a lot of minimalist blogs and editing my life. Donating clothes to pare down to 33 items seasonally (not quite there but my closet is cleaner); focusing on recipes with 5 ingredients (I’ll have exceptions, but I’m trying to get rid of magazine that have recipes); and reclaiming my space and time.
    I’m in the midst of life edits, so I don’t know what will happen here, but I wish you the best.

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    1. I do that too. I may not control what is going on with my world but I can control my closet. (or medicine cabinet, or desk, etc)

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    2. I think this is key. I’m buried under accumulated stuff–clothes, books, contracts, rooms with poles–so divesting is key. Having bought a much smaller house is helping with that. I’ve stopped looking at stuff and thinking, “Do I want to keep that?” and started thinking, “Where will I put that?”

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      1. You got a new house! That is such a good solution for you. I was just re-reading The Cinderella Deal yesterday and thinking how detailed the house decorating is and how much of the craftiness must be from your life.

        A friend of mine (an engineer) makes very detailed plans for decluttering and repainting her house, when she’s having a bad day. I’m not detail-oriented, so I
        just look at rental ads and daydream about the tiny studio apartment above a great Thai restaurant on a bike path. With no shoveling or remodeling.

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  9. Oh, and I’m getting the massage I promised myself at the end of fall semester, finally. Tomorrow is late, but it’s better than never.

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    1. The massage was TOTALLY worth it, BTW. It inspired me to drink more water, plan a better dinner and I have been riding on the relaxation all week. 🙂

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  10. I like music.

    Whenever I’m in a black funk I listen to the songs that make me the happiest. For me, that’s Disney music. Strange as it seems. The classic cartoons of the Golden Age are the songs of my childhood, and I don’t think I met a black funk yet that I didn’t snap out of after listening to a good run of Disney songs…and singing along.

    Is there any music like that for you? Something that always puts you in a good mood. It’s not a long term solution, and you can’t do it too much or you’ll get sick of your music, but if you’ve got a bad day you think you can perk up from with some music I highly recommend it.

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  11. ‘Lucky’ has nothing to do with not being depressed and anxious. We’re always better off than someone else and we’re still entitled to feel down and awful. I’ve found it’s not the events of my life that make me feel down, but rather thinking about them over and over and the feelings that follow those thoughts. I’m trying something new in that I’m learning to become ‘thoughtless’. It’s a meditation technique, and my teacher assures me that eventually I’ll spend the day not thinking unless it’s necessary!! It’s whacky enough to give it a shot!

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    1. Thoughtless. That is what I do but I didn’t know there was a name for it. About ten years ago, I was totally worn out. Most days I didn’t want to get out of bed. That’s when I started saying no. I told my husband I was selling the farm. I didn’t care how much we got, I wasn’t working on it any more. Then I started telling my mother I couldn’t come to see her every week (it’s a three hour round trip). She still lays on the guilt after all this time. If I don’t want to do something (besides work) I don’t. I try to make time for my husband (who’s gotten himself another farm, but I don’t work on it.) It takes guts to say no but I feel so much better now that I’ve started taking care of myself better.

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      1. Your DIY option sounds better. Turns out my meditation teacher is trying to induct me into something that sounds suspiciously like a cult – well, I’ve been invited to a 1-day seminar at something called ‘The Collective’… It cheered me up hugely just because I found the idea of myself being considered a viable candidate for a cult (doesn’t frequent sarcasm and cynicism exclude you) so bizarre. My meditation teacher wears baggy, all-covering clothes and I just thought she covered up because she felt the cold because she’s so skinny – turns out the Collective thinks women should dress ‘chastely’. Cheered me up even more. This is better than anti-depressants.

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  12. Hmm… Well… I cut out the depressing, which includes all television, radio and newspapers. I have enough down of my own without outside help.

    Sorry about the stove, but then you would miss the new Terry Pratchett.

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  13. Oh Babe, we have ALL been there lately! It’s been a freaking theme. But…. there is hope, we are seeing some great positive signs.

    How do I cope? I walk up to Dan and say “make me feel better.” Then we have sex. No, sorry, he’s not available for loan. I’m a shellfish and don’t share well. (If he’s not home I eat chocolate. Or frosting. Or chocolate frosting. Until he gets here.)

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      1. Does Dan have a brother you could lend out? ‘Cause I was going to say “sex,” and then I realized I hadn’t had any in so long, I had no idea if it still worked that way…

        Dang. Now I’m REALLY depressed.

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  14. Good question. The thing is that when I’m in a good mood and everything is going great, I just can’t imagine I’ll ever be depressed again. And when I’m depressed, same thing: I can’t believe there were times I felt great and they are going to return.

    But this is what helps me:
    1. work. If possible, something that really makes me either sweat physically or takes up all my concentration. The feeling of achievement (even if it’s only a clean bathroom) is really helpful.
    2. pray. I consider myself a lucky person because I have faith. I know I don’t have to go through this all alone.
    3. love. I try to be close to my family and let them know how I feel without dragging them down with me (well, at least I try not to). I have a weekly date with my best friend when we tell each other what is currently going on in our lives, we laugh and cry together, and then we pray for a while. Worked wonderfully for the last ten years or so.
    4. no icecream, no chocolate – at least not much. It only makes you feel worse after the first five minutes of bliss. Knitting, making jewellery or sewing to keep my hands busy is a much better long-term strategy and it gives you a finished product to be proud of.
    5. sleep. A lot. And then go and have some iced coffee. Something I look forward to every day.

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    1. I am glad you realize you are lucky to have faith. I tried for years a bunch of different ways and all I ever got was God’s answering machine. I figure if God ever wants to get hold of me God has my address. But I miss the times when I could con myself into believing I believed.

      I do a lot of reading, some rereading (nice people, why not spend time there again?). And some half-baked cognitive self- therapy– there are some topics that thinking about just does not help.

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    2. I agree with you 100%!!!! The last time I hit this point it was the absolute worst it had ever been – the only thing that stopped me was the thought of having my husband come home to something like that. So I went for prayer – I am grateful for my faith, but I don’t always seek out God for help so I flounder a lot.

      I know how much exercise will help – those happy endorphins and all that – but it can be hard to actually get up and DO it. Creating of some kind – sew, crochet, paint, pysanky, write – something stress free and just for fun. And, it is hard to back away from the chocolate and cheetos, but, it usually does just make me feel worse. And, sleep for sure – colognegrrl – you are a genius!

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  15. I used to run to make myself feel better. Then I forgot that running made me feel better, stopped running and gained a bunch of weight back. Go me.

    So, with running out, just plain getting outside helps a lot. A walk in the park or along a beach can be quiet helpful, preferably if they’re not overcrowded. Basically just getting a little bit of sunshine is always good for the spirit. Finding any sunshine in England can be quite difficult at times, but a cloudy day is still better than nothing at all or so I tell myself to get myself out of the flat. 🙂

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  16. I’ve been lurking on this loop for years, but I’m going to come out of my hole and comment, because I’ve been in that place you’re in now, Jenny, for most of the last two years. The light at the end of the tunnel, it’s well and truly lost. Or, it was lost. I think I can see a glimmer again. Maybe.

    I started this year scared by just how dark a place I was in and determined to turn things around.

    January, I did Margie Lawson’s Defeat Self-Defeating Behaviors for Writers course — and one of the things I picked up from that was to start and end each day with positives, as in literally list the positives in your life, with pen and paper. I took that further, and decided listen to a positive thinking subliminal soundtrack as I go to sleep and wake up (and list my positives). Plus I also now listen to deep sleep ocean waves sound tracks to improve my sleep, and stress free subliminal soundtracks while I work. I don’t know whether the soundtracks actually work, or whether it’s just that I feel I’m taking control of aspects of my life again.

    Other things that brighten my day are walking and yoga — seriously, yoga really makes a huge difference to my happiness levels. I ALWAYS feel happier after yoga. It doesn’t have to be vigorous, even gentle stretching makes me feel better physically and emotionally.

    I also cleaned up my diet this year by cutting out processed food. I lost a ton of weight and am enjoying my food a thousand times more than I did before. Once you stop eating processed food, you don’t miss it (or at least, I haven’t). Everything tastes so much better!

    I read the happiness section in 59 Seconds, and also all of What Happy People Know. They both gave me good strategies to complement the ones Margie Lawson’s course gave me.

    I watched all of Buffy, one or two episodes a night. (Yes, there were a couple of dark seasons, but I love that show.)

    I probably should have gone to my doctor and asked for antidepressants, but I balked at that. I have been taking St John’s Wort, and I think it helps.

    And finally, a great pick-me-up (for me) is watching The Sound of Music and singing along to the songs. It’s the ultimate in comfort viewing, plus the act of singing seems to make me happier. I must find a copy of Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, to sing along to that too… Do you have a musical you love?

    Oh, and I read your blog. I love your world view. Your posts always make me smile. 😀 And if you haven’t posted, I go back and read the old ones, like the dogs swallowing your November.

    The circumstances of my life are still the same as they were last year, perhaps even a little worse, but some days I almost feel happy — and I’d forgotten what that felt like.

    I hope some of this helps? Going back to lurkdom now…

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    1. Welcome out of lurkdom! Don’t go back!

      I like the positive at the beginning and ending of the day. Lyle always comes to cuddle with me right before I go to sleep, but that’s bittersweet. Lately Mona’s taken to curling up, too, and putting her head on my shoulder, and I’m fairly certain she’s not going to die in the next six months, so that one’s a little more positive.

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  17. This may not work for you, but when I am super down I read SARK. I love the bright colours in her books and the fact they they are not perfect. She has a realistic view of optimisim – life is not always perfect, but it is better than the alternative. I have followed her advice and since it has worked before I go back to it again and again.

    I also like time in nature, even a drive along quite country roads helps.
    I will also make something really special and frivolous just for me. A new little bag or a scarf, or a table cloth (those may not be your examples) I play with pretty material and make something special.
    I bake bread, the smell alone is enough to get you out of your chair and there is something about kneading dough.
    The new remedy that is sweeping the world is watching videos on the net of cute dog/cat/babies. Hearing a baby laugh instantly cheers me up.
    Oh and turn off CNN or whatever news you are watching the idiots will f*** up the world without for a while.
    Sermon over.
    Hope you feel better Jenny, so many people love you.

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  18. One day at a time. One hour at a time, if necessary. And I do whatever it takes to make myself feel better — or better about myself.

    Sometimes that’s “make the bed.” Sometimes that’s “take the recycling to the dump.” Sometimes it’s going for a walk with a digital camera, or for exercise (without the camera but with tunes: music is great). Doing the laundry. Backing up my hard drive or attacking the pile of filing that I ignore in more energetic and positive times, something work-like. Sweeping the garage or mowing the lawn.

    And sometimes, I tell myself that “happy” or “feeling good” just isn’t in the cards for me right now. Illness, death, towerings — it’s okay, when those things come into my life, to feel scared and sad and lonely. It’s not comfortable, but it’s okay. That doesn’t prevent me from doing something positive for myself.

    And then at the end of the day (or hour), I review: I’m still scared, but today at least I did x, y, z. Or I kept my head out of the oven. Or whatever else I can list. And then I do it again.

    I also enjoy escaping through books and movies, but they’re less effective than they used to be (more study makes me more aware of the flaws and, in my worst moments, I get envious and depressed). And “escape” is less effective to me than doing something that shows me I have the power to make a difference in my world.

    I think it’s mostly doing something to take control of my surroundings. I may not have next month’s rent, but I can live in a house where the bed is made and there aren’t dishes in the sink. In my house, the dogs are loved and brushed.

    I’m also a big fan of setting up something in the future to look forward to. In extremely difficult times, financially, going to a coffee shop for a mocha on Friday, if today is Monday, and it is.

    But here are the daily (hourly) basics. Do, review (pat my own back). Repeat.

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      1. I’m glad — I learned it from Al-Anon. I highly recommend it for basic coping strategies.

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  19. make things, do things –

    I think horses do for me what dogs do for you, so I ride, and I ride the one that makes me feel like a brave, bold, capable rock star and not the one that makes me feel small and stupid and useless. The combination of Outside, Exercise and Large Animal hits many positive buttons.

    I knit, and sew, and if those aren’t working I stand in my room and caress my silk fabrics until something good happens.

    I totally agree with Nonny, to stop paying attention to the news. The whole world can go to hell far faster than we can help it by worrying. It can also, unexpectedly, haul itself out again. But ignoring it for a while helps me a lot. In retrospect I think that’s why I was so cheerful when the girls were younger – because I couldn’t stand the thought of them hearing how horrible things were, so I didn’t listen, and therefore, didn’t hear much that was horrible.

    And if all this is not working, I take small drugs. And the anti-depressants help, rather more than I think. I can tell because when I stop taking them, the world gets really really dreadful, and when I restart, it becomes possible to find small amounts of pleasure in things.

    You could do worse than believe your friends? Plus you have a vocal and articulate cheering section. We have to be good for something?

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    1. You all are fabulous.
      I’ve been crocheting like a fiend, it’s the only thing that keeps me off the edge. Lani and I are going to start an Etsy store to get rid of some of this stuff. No, we’re not going to tell you about it. No exploiting Argh people. But really, I’m up to my ass in scarves and shawls at this point, so they have to go somewhere.

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  20. this feels like a deja vu post … Try out huna.org. Interesting articles, etc.

    Also, I’m glad you’re doing better. I suggest that you set up a P.O.Box and have your loyal readers send you fanmail (which theoretically should make you feel better at some point).

    Which brings me to my nerd point – reading this blog (and at one point agnes&the hitman and hewroteshewrote blogs) makes me feel better on @$u1Y!! days

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      1. I think we all worried about you . . . but, reading the comments and venting a little myself helped make things better in my own life. (-: Selfish gene finds altruism everywhere.

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  21. Everyone here is a much deeper thinker than me. I read this and thought “sparkly teal toenail polish” because it makes me smile in the shower.

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    1. Thank you for saying this! I was thinking the same thing, “oh damn, I went with the Super Quick Snarky (but still true) comment and everyone else’s reply was SO much classier and probably helpful.”

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    2. Actually, one of the girls in my aqua aerobics class was sporting light blue sparkly toenails and it cheered us all up. And she got the nail polish on sale, too.

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      1. I think it’s the difference between a true depression and a more momentary “the world is thwarting me” situation. The more thoughtful posts work for the more serious depressions and sparkly toenail polish in a funky color helps for those grumpy cranky times.

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  22. I read kid’s books, and not the new ones, the ones I read growing up — The Wind in the Willows, Anne of Green Gables, Eight Cousins — or early 20th century novels — Beau Geste, Freckles, Girl of the Limberlost, Florence Barclay’s The Rosary. Something a bit sentimental, that lets me cry safe tears unconnected with myself.

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    1. I love Eight Cousins! I have never understood why Little Women is considered all that and a bag of chips – it’s my least favorite Alcott. Give me Eight Cousins any day!

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  23. All I can think of is watching favorite old movies and wallowing in self-pity. Apparently, I don’t have coping skills.

    Getting some physical activity might help. Sometimes when I’m feeling like being a shut-in is a perfectly valid way to function, I force myself to go out in the world and do something (take a walk around one of the nearby lakes, for example), and I feel much better once I’m out there. It’s getting out there that’s the challenge.

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  24. I wallow in it; I embrace it. I play movies that make me cry (cuz at that point they all do) and listen to sad music and then I start reading books I know just clench at your heart in places. And pretty soon I’m tired of feeling like that. Sometimes we just need to mourn. It’s when you can’t snap out of it for days at a time that professional advice should be sought. We lost 2 local boys in that horrible thing that happened in that nasty country and I think “by the Grace of God go I”. My son is a Marine and the clock is ticking and I know that someday I may have to embrace the storm and ride it out. Better to get experience with that now.

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    1. Yeah, sometimes you need to bring on the crash. I watch the last bit of Lord of the Rings and listen to “Into the West” when I need to bring on a crying jag, or watch “A Walk to Remember”, particularly the song “Dare You to Move”. And when Mum was dying, I frequently pulled over to the side of the road and listened to the Dixie Chicks singing “Silent House”, and went through boxes of tissues, because that was about the only time I was getting to myself to crash and grieve without having to be strong for anyone.

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  25. Getting through … well some years back I finally learned to ditch the toxic people in my life where possible. And the ones I couldn’t ditch I could at least limit my contact with. I realized that everyone in your life should add something to it. That something may be as concrete as a paycheck or as ephemeral as just making you feel good to be around them. It all matters.

    Being around non-toxic people who can make me laugh, or at least distract me. Loud 60s or 70s rock played while driving the car so I can scream along with it and pretend that I can actually carry a tune. Reading Terry Pratchett. Watching action adventure movies while crocheting. Harrison Ford foiling the bad guys is always a pick-me-up. Working in my garden or even just cutting the grass provided it’s not 103F outside. Sitting on my deck in the evening with a friend and a tall glass of chilled wine. Sitting outside wherever surrounded by CBs and drinking margaritas. Watching my 17yo cat pretend she’s still a kitten. Ice cream cones. Home grown tomatoes sliced in half, sprinkled with salt and eaten while still sun-warmed. Brownies.

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  26. Oh, and reading AATHM. Because, as I so often feel like I’m only one frying pay away from a court-appointed therapist, I so get Agnes and I can work out my hostilities vicariously when she’s swinging at the annoying people in her life.

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  27. I practice avoidance. Hold on while I explain. Consider the lowly scab. It’s a defense mechanism to protect a wound until it’s healed enough (strong enough) to be exposed to the air again. Or maybe it’s denial, which in psychology is more subconscious than overt. At any rate, it’s a short-term until I feel strong enough to face it and deal with it. FWIW.

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  28. I listen to music. I weed my gardens – it helps when there some part that you can change from messy to neat and tidy. Digging in the dirt soothes me. I knit – something fun and usually for me although it doesn’t usually get finished till later because I need to finish the other things I am knitting for family. Praying a lot – having arguments with God – something I have done for a VERY long time. Reading books that I know will make me laugh – “Bet Me”, “Agnes & the Hitman”, Lisa Kleypas – more for the escape – I love history so I read A LOT of historical fiction and picture myself there. I bake too – but first I have to split the wood to heat the stove. When I am really down I read or jump to the stories I am working on – getting lost in another world gives me time to breathe. Hang in there!

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  29. I fondle my bead stash.

    Right now, I’m caught int he perfect storm of a thyroid out of whack, perimenopause and an overdue thesis to write even though my brain won’t function. So while I wait for the dr. appt to put me on T3 meds, rub pro-gest on twice a day, and re-arrange writing deadlines, I take out a tray of lampwork beads and fondle. The least I can get is a bead buzz.

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  30. By and large I’m a positive person, so when I get hit with “bad” it really hits because being sad and depressed and miserable is not my world view of myself and my life.

    The absolute worsts times in my life were the deaths of my parents. I think Mom’s in particular because when Dad died at least I still had her. We hit that “It’s not going to be all right” point right at the outset. When she was diagnosed, they told us it was terminal cancer. Ten days later she had the first stroke. Ten days after that, she had the second stroke and it also kicked off a seizure disorder. In the space of a month, Mom went from an active, vibrant, independent, play tennis three days a week, let’s go fishing 72-year old, to a sick woman who needed help with everything. We knew that we would fight her illnesses with every medical means available, but in our heart of hearts, we knew that eventually we would lose. And it sucked. My mother was my angel, my inspiration and my hero. So losing her was never going to be all right.

    I couldn’t cave within myself and give into my despair. Mom needed me to oversee her care, get her to her treatments, do laundry, cook, keep her multiple medications straight, help her wash and get dressed, and advocate for her during the seven or eight trips to the e.r., then the stroke rehab hospital, etc.

    During all of this, Oprah became a big fan of Sara Ban Breathnach, Simple Abundance, and the attitude of gratitude. The concept was simple. Every day think of five things you’re grateful for and write them down.

    I started to do that every night once Mom was tucked into her bed. Sometimes I had to really search, but I found five things. I’m sure some days my things were off the wall, like “I’m grateful there was an open pump at the gas station when we were running late for chemo” or “I’m grateful that I discovered the hot chai drink at Borders’ Cafe” but what I acknowledged was secondary to the fact that I engaged in the process.

    For much of the months of her illness, Mom was okay if I left her alone for half an hour and took my dog to the beach so he could run. That helped a lot, too. I have always been an ocean girl, lucky enough to live near it all of my life. Walking barefoot on the sand, throwing the ball to my overjoyed dog, breathing in the salt air and being by the sea, restored my spirit and helped me gather the strength to go another day.

    When I’m having a bad day, or a bad few days, these are my fall-back tools. Focus and name things for which I’m grateful, and spend time by the ocean. (The ocean’s right outside my door so that’s the easy part.)

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  31. 1. Books. But if the funk is too bad, books drive me crazy because I can’t find a story I love.
    2. Netflix.
    3. Prayer, meditation and Nooma videos.
    4. Long walks with my camera.
    5. Short road trips.
    I can’t fight it. If I do, it’s like I’m in a rip current. It pulls me under. About six months after 9-11 things got too bad. I’d wake up in the middle of the night unable to breathe or crying or shivering. I live in Wichita Falls, TX, and I didn’t personally know anyone hurt in the attacks, but I watched the news coverage constantly. I finally told my doctor and she gave me an anti-depressant and told me to turn off the news. Not easy. I’m a high school newspaper adviser. The news was my addiction.
    The anti-depressant worked. So did turning off the news.
    You are an amazing, giving person. I’ve watched you in awe for years. I don’t know you other than as the speaker at RWA and the author of some amazing books and the person whose blogs scream voice, but the you I see here is a pretty special person. Like Lee said, you have a huge cheering section. I know you weren’t asking for Jenny kudos, but you got them anyway! I’m glad things are starting to look better.

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    1. Mary Beth, I’m a former reporter and college journalism instructor/advisor. I hear you with the news. I also totally agree with just how toxic it can be. I recently got sucked in with the Japan news because we have (had?) a friend in Sendai. I caught myself getting further sucked in to the point of constantly checking and forced myself to step away. Now I’m back to allowing myself to scan the Google news roundup, but I limit that too and have to be very careful.

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  32. Pudding makes me feel better.
    That’s probably really unenlightened and self-destructive but, hell, I like pudding.

    Also I like to read light happy books–le Crusie, Meg Cabot, Sophie Kinsella. Stuff that makes me smile.

    And my doggies of course.

    I’m with the people who say turn off the news. I’m not the best informed individual out there but I’m actually prone to some serious anxiety when faced with stuff like that so I ostrich it out for my own good. Plus, husband keeps me up on what he hears on NPR and I toss in my two cents about what I read on people.com. 😛

    PS As for having a right to bitch–I’m bitching about the discomfort of being 8 months pregnant in august when there are squillions of women out there who’d love to be pregnant and would never ever complain about it. I still don’t think that invalidates my grievances when I have a four pound kid bouncing on my bladder.

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    1. Diva, I was eight months pregnant with TWINS in August fourteen years ago. I used to waddle into the doctor’s office, point to my ginormous stomach and say “Do something about this!”

      Not trying to trump you, just letting you know I’ve been there! You bitch all you want.

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    2. Pudding makes me feel better, too. Sugar free cook and serve chocolate pudding with vanilla ice cream melting in it.

      News: TPM, Gawker, and AlJazeera. But not every day.

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  33. Luckily, I’m not down this low at the moment, even if thinking about the idiot politicians running amuk makes me grind my teeth, and reading/hearing about the chopper incident and the lives lost over the weekend makes my chest constrict and the tears well up. But I have been this low in the past and faith was the only thing that got me through.

    Not the “run to church and light a candle” kind of faith (though if that makes you feel better, by all means) but the faith that things will get better. That something will come along just when I need it and everything really will be alright. As long as I keep my head up and believe it’s not the end of the world, or go looking for (more) bad things to happen, I muddle through and come out the other side.

    It’s corny as hell, but the sun really will come out tomorrow. There’s another chance to get it right. There’s another day to start over. Even if I curl into a ball and wish the world away, it’s still there. As Dory would say, just keep swimming.

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  34. I put Sam in the bathtub.

    My husband and I have two sons. Our oldest was a micro preemie and has multiple disabilities. Our youngest son just became a teenager (and if he lives until he is 18 it will be a miracle). I will not list the things that are going wrong or crazy or whatever right now…there isn’t enough room.

    So, Sam loves water in any way shape or form. For him a bath is a huge ball of joy wrapped in a bow. If he can get water on the ceiling, it is a good day. If he can get me wet, there is a cherry on top. And if he can soak the bath mats, nirvana! So much unadulterated joy can’t help but make me feel better. As long as I can keep the kid and the tub, life goes on.

    Since we have a tiny bathroom, we’ll meet you at the pool. Floats are optional. Be prepared to get wet.

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  35. When life is shitty, I get up because I have to, for the other people in my life. Being responsible for other people is a motivator, even if I’m not happy about it. Also, I drag out my copy of “When Things Fall Apart” by Pema Chodron. She’s an American Buddhist nun, with a sense of humor. It gets me out of my own head.

    I try to take a long view. I think there are always options, even if some of them suck. I know I’ll survive.

    And I eat whatever makes me happy.

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  36. I’m so glad you’re okay.

    I try hard to remember that life is all about cycles and that after the bad the good will start. I’m in a funk now because I lost my beautiful Nikki, my Akita dog who was the best companion ever. I came home from the vet’s office, closed all the blinds at noon and walked around in the dark for an hour or two, crying like a baby. I didn’t want to see anyone or talk to anyone. Weird, huh? Later that afternoon I opened up the blinds and made phone calls and sent emails. But for a while there I just had to go inward.

    This is the fourth day and it is somewhat easier. How I got through the past few days was to rearrange furniture, buy new bed linens, shampoo rugs, and today I start to paint baseboards and then the master bedroom. That activity, I think, makes the day seem less long and empty as for twelve years my daily schedule was built around the dog’s needs. As I work I think of Nikki, or I make plans for my future. Dreams mostly. But they all help to stay positive. Right now I’m thinking if I can sell this place I’m going to move back to L.A. It might happen. It might not. But at least it’s something to work toward.

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    1. Robena, that’s not weird at all! When I had to let my dog go, I could not eat (me, of all people) for days. It helped me to post pictures on my blog of my beautiful dog so that other people could see her.

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      1. Merry, I had no appetite for four days. I’m doing okay now. And my new website and blog went live today so I dedicated the first post to Nikki, and posted a photo.

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      2. And it helped us, too. (I am perfectly capable of grieving for dogs I’ve never met, just as I talk to deaf dogs even when they’re not there….)

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      3. (((Mary Ann in K))) I really appreciated your kind words at the time. Still do, in fact.

        Robena, I can’t actually see the new website with the pictures of your dog. I’ll check back later. I would love to see her picture.

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    2. Oh, Roben, I’m so sorry. Dogs should live forever.
      Lani was saying yesterday that she’s stopped believing Lyle’s going to die because he’s so healthy and happy, leaping around the place. I remind myself every day that I’m going to lose him. I’m not sure which one of us is the smarter one. Probably her, since I’m still going to be devastated when he goes.
      Good luck with the house.

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  37. Jenny, you stated that you are depressed and anxious. I want you to sit down and make a list of EVERYTHING that is causing you to be depressed and anxious. Is it the economy, money trouble, your writing, a messy house?-whatever-write it down. Then, look at the list and decide what you can and cannot change on that list. If you do not have the energy to make the list, have Lani help and she can look at things in a positive light. My husband is a “worrier” -the economy, the kids and their jobs, getting old, on and on. I make him name the things OUT LOUD to me and then we talk about each one and what he can do to fix each thing. When there is nothing he can do[example-the economy] I tell him that he is not allowed to worry about that anymore. When it came to the kids and their jobs we made a detailed list of the actions we would take if they lost their jobs due to a national emergency or world wide depression that he was also worried about. This entailed moving them home to the country, planting a huge garden, getting a cow, pigs and chickens and him learning what to do with all the “survival stuff”. Listing helps him clarify and delete things he can not have the power to change.

    Another issue he has is the past. He worries about things he has done “wrong” in the past. We list them as well and decide which ones are trivial or can not be changed. Some we decide can be a lesson-you know-“those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it”.

    The one thing I try to help him with is to have a peaceful, restful mind. He is a very intelligent, gifted man. You are also very intelligent and gifted. Both of you put the weight of the world on your shoulders and want to solve every problem. I tell him to step back, calm down and be peaceful in his own life. I make sure he has good food to eat, that he gets enough sleep and that he sees a doctor as needed. People ask me if I worry about anything and I tell them that my husband worries enough for both of us!

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    1. Oh Sharon, your husband sounds like my separated-at-birth twin! So wonderful that you two have a way to work through this. I believe my family is genetically programmed to worry. I’m going to take a note from your post and do the same. But I think having you say, “Your not allowed to worry about that anymore” is a wonderful thing.

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    2. I actually worked that out:

      I can’t finish my book.
      I’m living in the wrong place.
      I’m broke.

      If I could solve any one of those three, I could probably fix the other two. It’s all three at once that’s the perfect storm since they feed into each other. But I’m working on it. By going deeper into debt, of course.

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  38. I saw this in the comments section on a website somewhere (I’ll have to see if I can track it down). Someone had sent the commenter a card that read:

    “You WILL get through this. Just take it one day at a time. When that gets too hard, take it one hour at a time. When that gets too hard, take in one minute at a time. When that gets too hard, take it one breath at a time. And, when THAT gets too hard…….let us know and we will breathe for you.”

    I know it’s greeting card sentiment but I think we all breathe for one another when everytime one bad/hard thing is resolved, another starts up right away. When, during the worst of my times, I would have severe panic/anxiety attacks, I would call a friend and we would go for a walk. In essence, he would breathe for me until I could breathe on my own again. Call us, Jenny and we will breathe for you.

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    1. That sounds similar to a Firefly quote. When you can’t run, you crawl. When you can’t crawl, you find someone to carry you. Not as pretty, but then I picture Nathan Fillion and I don’t care. haha

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    2. That’s usually my plan, but this stuff has been going on for two years. I know there’s a light at the end of the tunnel, but it’s a long tunnel.
      OTOH, other people have longer, darker tunnels with rats and toxic waste, so I’m trying to count my blessings.

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  39. I definitely stop watching/listening to/reading the news. Cold turkey. All of it.

    I take a walk around my neighborhood. A nice stroll, with no goal other than to be outside. Dog optional (I have a Dalmatian, so his idea of a stroll is more like hell on wheels.)

    I tidy up one room so that I have someplace soothing to sit and relax. If I’m up for it, I’ll clean vigorously, under the theory that I’ll still be in a crappy mood, but hey, my kitchen/bathroom/closet will be clean, but this is usually more effort than I’m able to expend. Sometimes going through the closet and consciously looking at the clothes I have, and what I no longer wear and can donate is helpful. I get a few new ideas of how to combine things, a de-cluttered closet, AND know that the stuff I don’t need can go to someone who can make use of it.

    I make something. Anything. Even friendship bracelets or the little beaded macrame-type things are pleasing to create and the raw materials are very inexpensive. If I’m somewhere that doesn’t even have that, a 64-count box of crayolas and a coloring book/pad of paper will work in a pinch.

    I cook. Lasagne is almost perfect — not particularly difficult, but complex enough that it occupies my brain for a bit. And then it can be frozen and comes in very handy later. Cookies or brownies or something that I can also freeze and hand around later. (I love to cook, so this one is probably not for those who don’t. But I do make a distinction between puttering around in the

    I have a carefully curated list of DVDs (Moonstruck, Apollo 13, Under the Tuscan Sun, Overboard, Lord of the Rings (all 3 movies, extended editions–this can kill an entire weekend), Downton Abbey, the new Sherlock) and books (Georgette Heyer, Maeve Binchy, Rosamund Pilcher, you) that take me out of myself and make me smile as I watch/read.

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  40. Soup. I make soup. Batches and batches of soup, sometimes 3 pots-full at once. Now, I don’t actually like to EAT soup very much, so it’s a little weird. They get frozen in little serving-size batches, perhaps for all eternity or until they are so frost-covered they are unrecognizable. But I do feel better after making soup.

    I’ve had those moments when I’m self-employed and those moments when I’m expected to show up at a job. As much as I like the “working in my PJs” gigs, it does really help when I have to get up, get presentable, and go OUT once in a while. Otherwise, I sleep a lot. Nocturnal tendencies and if I don’t have to be anywhere, why not, and soon I’m rolling out of bed at 2 p.m. Which is OK, but can also make me feel worse, somehow. So, getting up and out is a suggestion.

    I like Buffy and have watched and rewatched. Right now, she’s my new exercise motivation — I watch an episode, but only when I’m on the elliptical. I’m amazed at how well it’s working, but don’t want to jinx it, so, shhh!

    I find the RadioLab podcasts fascinating because I’m a science geek.

    Sometimes, much as I hate to do it, I’ll clean the house — or my area — because everything being in order is soothing.

    Yoga. Cheesecake. A really good hug. A nice cup of tea. Friends.

    Driving. I love a road trip and will just DRIVE. I sometimes turn the radio off and cry or yell, I sing, I stop at places that look interesting or turn down roads I didn’t plan. Road trips work for me.

    Not for your funk, necessarily, but I did really like this Ted talk by Elizabeth Gilbert about creativity and genuis — http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/eng/elizabeth_gilbert_on_genius.html

    Glad you’re feeling (slightly) better and are back. I missed you!

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    1. You post and a previous one way up there makes me wonder if Jenny would be helped by a vitamin D supplement, if she can’t actually get out into the sun at this time….

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  41. Are all the anti-depressants addictive? It is my understanding that the drugs are much better these days and that doctors calibrate the dosage quite carefully.

    If you can find a good one, this is not the time to worry about expenses.

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    1. I’m not good with drugs. I have weird reactions that worry people. Best one ever: an anti-depressant I took while I was on the road once that convinced me that room service was coming to kill me. Even I knew that was crazy, so I flushed the rest of the pills down the toilet.

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    1. I LOVE THIS!!! Also pudding. THANK YOU FOR THE LINK TO THIS and for reminding me about pudding. People here really rock.

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    2. LOL, no, no! That should be the FIRST thing one tries! If it can not be made OK with that, then one needs to work on sterner (more joyous?) measures! Thank you for posting this!

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  42. When I feel like curling up in a ball and sucking my thumb because life is kicking me in the butt, I read Bet Me. It’s my comfort food just like mashed potatoes. After Bet Me I usually move through the Chicago Stars series by Susan Elizabeth Phillips. It must be the endorphin rush from reading all those wonderful love stories that peps me up and returns my optimism. Makes me feel like I’ve been playing with a litter of Golden Retriever puppies.

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    1. I just finished Welcome to Temptation, Faking It and Bet Me. I’m now starting my favorite SEPs (Nobody’s Baby But Mine, laugh out loud!).

      I also cook. I cook big – for 10 or more. I live alone in 450 sq feet – my co-workers love me! 🙂

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  43. Everyone has the right to bitch. Bitching is how we make it through the day. You’re reasons for feeling the way you do are your reasons and no one else’s and you shouldn’t feel ashamed of that. You have every right to feel how you feel. So don’t justify that.

    My way of coping? It isn’t the healthiest, but I hide out from everyone. I hide out and read and maybe eat things that aren’t good for me and watch things that distract me and only make me laugh, but I hide out from everyone and everything until I’m ready to cope again. Also, a good cry never hurt anyone.

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  44. Really good books or really really good TV. I am a DVR addict so TV usually wins…LOL.

    Also…rearranging. When retail therapy is out, and I can’t even afford a new nicknack or stupid decorative bowl to pull me out of a funk…I start shoving things around. A new look makes me feel like I’ve done something or bought something without the additional depression of more vacuum suck on my checkbook!

    Have a smile and a brownie… 🙂

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  45. When things get very bad, I escape to Discworld. Terry Pratchett can always pull a laugh from me, even in the days after my breast cancer diagnosis. I’m lucky that I’ve been able to reread the books time and time again.

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  46. I bake. I pray. I read Terry Pratchett and Jennifer Crusie novels, and only those. They always make me feel like, no matter what, good stuff will happen. I watch things that make me laugh, or explosion-heavy action films where the good guys will definitely win. I’ll also watch seasons of shows I love – Leverage, Stargate SG-1, MASH (the heartbreaking episodes get skipped), Chuck, etc. Anything to take me elsewhere for a while so that my brain can have a break from the sadness and worry.

    I’ve had many, many days where I wished my oven was gas. I had days where the prayer and escapism wasn’t enough, where I caused myself physical harm. I still have moments where just thinking about it brings the emotions back so strongly that it seems like I’m in that hell all over again. But they do pass, despite it not feeling like it at the time. I’m still here, and I’m actually doing much better than before. Having people who love you around to talk to is the best thing out there, but I also fully recommend at least trying some escapism to distract you until your brain has rested enough to deal with it all.

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  47. I’ll second that, “Bet Me” is good for low grade depression. Oddly enough, reading Laurell K. Hamilton usually cheers me up from the deep funks (it’s a must for getting through the Christmas season). Any urban fantasy with a kick-ass heroine helps. Lately Kevin Hearne’s books with the Irish Wolfhound who has long discussions with his person are excellent. Anything that’s laugh-out-loud funny is good. Sad to say exercise really does help, even raking the grass out of the yard works. Sitting on my back porch with the dog, a funny book and pie, watching the deer and turkeys is good, as long as the deer aren’t eating the flowers.

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    1. OOOOO I second Kevin Hearne’s Atticus series, great books, and you cannot help but laugh at his dog Oberon.

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  48. Honestly? I have a good cry. The ugly kind. Usually with really loud boo-hooing. No, not kidding. Sigh.

    Then I go find someone to hug who can hug back really hard (if I didn’t find them before I started crying). Preferably someone I really, really love. Girlfriends are good for this. Guy friends are best for this (for me) because they can hug harder and this is the one time I really need to feel that hug. Kids are not so good for this, tends to freak them out.

    Once I have that good ugly cry, it usually clears my head out so I can freaking THINK. Then I can make a list, make a plan, and move on with life. Because my oven is electric, too :-).

    Nothing but good times ahead 🙂

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  49. I go to the beach. And I sit and stare at the push-pull of the waves. And sometimes I gaze at that vast body of water and ponder my relative insignificance. Realisng “fuck, but I’m tiny” helps change my perspective.

    The very good cardio workout walking on beach sand gives me gets my blood pumping and the good chemicals coursing through my veins.

    Sometimes I hide – stay in, read a lot, watch a lot of tv/dvd/series and eat. But this doesn’t work well – I often end up wallowing, so I try to visit with friends in some way – maybe meet at gym or a quick beverage stop.

    Gym helps – especially if I pretend to be Jason Bourne or an agent from RED or that I’m training for when the zombies attack. Endorphins really help to save the day.

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    1. How does an out of shape person become addicted to execise and endorphins and such? Instead of addicted to food? I think that would be great!! Cuase for now its mostly eat (to excess) and read (sometimes to excess) and some funny movies or shows.

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      1. JC – I am currently working through all seasons of Buffy on my elliptical. I don’t love it, really, but as they’re fighting and saving the world, I feel better about working out! It’s 44 minutes an episode, which I pretty quickly worked up to and I figure that’s a good place to start.

        I won’t let myself watch without the elliptical and, even when I don’t feel like doing all 44 minutes, once I’ve gotten started, I hate to turn the episode off.

        I don’t know if you’re a Buffy fan, but perhaps you can find your *thing* that will work for you?

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        1. I do exactly the same thing with audiobooks and walking.
          Nothing quite like listening to Bet Me while walking up a near vertical hillside.

          I now associate exercise with new!stories and it’s a huge help

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      2. JC – make working out more than just “working out” – I love this idea that people have of working out to a fave tv show or to audiobooks.

        The whole pretending-I’m-Jason-Bourne thing really does work for me. I look at a level of fitness I’d like to emulate and use that as my guide – but not my goal. Unless I have surgery, I will never be as flexible as Summer Glau in Serenity.

        My first experience with endorphins was when I was about 15 and doing ballet (badly-really, I am *not* flexible), we were learning a tarantella and once I’d mastered the choreography and could do the whole dance through at the end of a couple of weeks of training, I hit a high. Haven’t been chasing it ever since but it sure left an impression.

        So for me moving in sequence and having a bit of a challenge works. That way I step out of my comfort zone. I also make sure that it is not an impossible challenge – otherwise I’d give up when I couldn’tget closer to the guide I’d set.

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  50. I cope with books and turning on music and dancing around, and sometimes (well, many times) a glass of wine. Sometimes a glass of whine, too.

    But I also do a reality check. I list the things that are bothering me (the economy, idiot politicians, my agent not being able to sell me book, the leak in the roof that is almost certainly going to lead to needing a new roof, a dying cat who isn’t quite dying yet, f*cking menopause) and then I look at people who don’t have jobs, or places to live, or, ya know, FOOD, and I say, “Well, I guess my shit’s not so bad.” And then I eat ice cream.

    Hang in there, Jenny. This too shall pass.

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  51. Redecorating/rearranging furniture helps me. My other aid is comfort reading, but Bet Me won’t do the same for you as it does for me. However, McKinley’s Blue Sword, Lee and Miller’s Scout’s Progress and Local Custom, Moon’s Sheepfarmer’s Daughter (first book of the Deed of Paksenarrion) and most anything by Georgette Heyer also work to convince me there’s happiness out there even if I don’t have it now.

    Hang in there. We’re pulling for you.

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  52. I read. I read obsessively. This is bad because if I’m reading, I’m not working, and if I’m not working I don’t get paid and This Really Does Not Help Matters.

    But many of the Argh people have some really good suggestions and I am going to take them to heart. I particularly like:
    1. Find 5 (even if they’re tiny) things to be grateful for.
    2. Do little things you enjoy (take a walk, garden, cuddle with the dogs).
    3. Find something you can control, even if it’s just making the bed.
    4. Eat chocolate! (or the equivalent) Btw, did you know that sugar activates the same receptors in the brain that recreational drugs do, just not as strong? Sugar really does make you feel better!
    5. Take a news vacation, because most of the stuff in the news you can’t do anything to change, so it just makes you feel anxious and powerless. (Are there too many commas in that sentence? Never mind, not important.)

    Oh, I almost forgot. When I suffered from postpartum depression, what got me through was reminding myself (frequently) that “This too shall pass”. And it really does.

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  53. i felt so bad for you when I read this blog.I’m one of those cup half full girls, so even when things seem the worst they can be I always figure all I can do is go up from here. Sometimes I’ll start to feel sorry for myself and sure as hell a commercial will come on showing Africa’s plight or some equally horrible thing like all the scary hot temps you guys are getting this year and I realise my life is acually ok. I hope this fills your cup from empty and remember, your not alone

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  54. Honestly I usually hide in a book or a movie or food. But when I come out of hiding I find that I focus on The Breath. It’s something I have with me all the time and can successfully do over and over and over again. Focus on breathing in, pausing, and breathing out. When I can’t do anything else, I can breathe. I know it sounds hokey, but it really works!

    When my car was the one going into the shop over and over and OVER again, I’d really beat up on myself. Then I’d see what I can only call “a piece of aluminum foil wrapped around an engine” and realize that my car doesn’t suck that badly.

    Finally, I always have water. Living on Lake Michigan is a wonderful blessing. Like The Breath sitting by the lake calms me like nothing else.

    Have air and water seem to be a plus for me.

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  55. I used to have a lot of trouble with the “blue meanies”, but it’s better than it used to be. I even say that when I just lost my mother a couple of months ago.

    I, too, have begun to limit the amount of negativity that comes into my personal sphere by not watching CNN or the like. I simply am not equipped to handle the barage of tragedy that they manage to dig up from every corner of the globe. I have no control over the political idocy, but I do have control over my tv and computer.

    Fresh air helps. Walking works well for me weather permitting.

    Not trying to make too big of a leap to feel better. I can’t go from “it’s not going to be ok” to “Yeehah” in a minute. I try to feel a little bit better right now. Ask yourself, what would make me feel better right now.

    And I re-read my Crusie novels. I’ve re-read four of them since my mother died two months ago, and they have been as comforting as a good friend.

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    1. Lisa, my heart goes out to you on the loss of your mother! I’m coming up the the year anniversary of losing mine and I’m still wrecked over it. I’m glad you are faring well.

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      1. Thank you, Skye. My thoughts are with you. I have be reminding myself that it is I that can keep her alive in my heart as I think of her kindness, her ladylike dignity, how much children loved her, etc.

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    2. I’m so glad you said that about limiting the negativity. When I came home from work, I purposely did not watch the evening news. I already knew what the first 10 minutes would focus on. I didn’t need to bludgeon my senses with it. Thanks for the reminder!

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    3. Lisa, I’m so sorry for the loss of your mom, but glad you are doing OK. Hugs and vibes left here in a pile for whenever you need them.

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  56. Music has always been my salvation. Listening is nice, but singing is even better. There is something about the vibration of sound throughout your body that acts as a natural anti-depressant. Just put on your favorite tunes and open up your mouth and sing along. The choice of material is entirely dependent on the particular type of funk you find yourself in. Gut wrenching ballads are great if you’re in need of a little catharsis. If you’re looking for a lift singing AND dancing along to your favorite up-tempo stuff almost always works. Cheaper than Prozac and MUCH MUCH more fun!
    Today I have also found that just turning off the news has been enormously helpful. Being well informed is important, but so is retaining some shred of sanity.

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  57. My husband and I have a saying that we use when one of us is down, or struggling or having one of those periods of time when you just don’t see the point in getting up. We tell each other that this is not high school. Remember how high school was – things were so traumatic and desperate and there was so much drama because we had no experience with how life changes. When we were sad then we thought we would be sad forever. Of course, we thought the good times were never going to end either, but that is another story. I also go OUTSIDE. I am not an inside person and when I am down I go out to the barn and pull one of the horses out and groom them and I just let the peace of the quiet barn calm me down. Or I might get the tractor and mow the pasture. The point is that things will get better. Sometimes it takes its own sweet time doing it, but you have the support of a LOT of people who care. I hope that will help some.

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  58. Ok, agree with the above, cut out all depressing stuff, and get all the above good stuff….. you need Sweetness and Light, the dogs, the sparkly nailvarnish, the Ben and Jerry’s of your choice, Terry Pratchett and Georgette Heyer by the bucketload, cake obviously, and friends. Lots of friends, including us, because we love you too. Take it easy girl, you are doing great xx

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  59. Do something nice/good/helpful for someone else. Can be a friend, a stranger, anyone. Send someone flowers for no reason, get some food and deliver it to the food kitchen, or … I don’t know. Give someone a hand-made hat. Whatever you think the other person wants/needs or will smile over. The recipient can know or not know who the good thing comes from. It’s all about getting outside of my own head for a moment, imagining how this thing will benefit the other person, and sometimes that’s enough to stop, at least briefly, the endless cycle of negativity.

    It doesn’t always work for me, but sometimes it will snap me out of a serious funk. I figure, if nothing else, it means I’ve done some good in the world, even if I haven’t helped my own mood. And maybe I’ll get some good karma down the road.

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  60. I second what Becke said, but look at it this way. Surviving those Bad Days just feeds the Muse. Some day you can look back on all this and snark about it. That said, lately I’ve taken up meditation. It’s not so difficult as I thought. I find a peaceful place, get comfortable (not lying down, or I’ll doze off), and whisper, “I am a being of light and joy. I will spread light and joy wherever I go.” Sometimes just the thought makes me laugh. 🙂 As the saying goes, “You can’t fall through the floor.”

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  61. I’ve been going through the same thing lately only with different pressures. I WAS supposed to be moving out mid west, be happy about it, and look forward to a new life. Instead – I broke off a relationship, stopped trying to make myself happy about something I wasn’t and am going to start a new life. In the next state, not in the mid west.
    So what do I do? Sleep. It’s my first go to defense mechanism. I have always been able to make myself sleep during stressful times, except at night when I should be asleep, then it doesn’t work.
    It’s the best thing I’ve got that does not include over eating, crying until I puke or putting my head in the oven. I have a gas stove. Here’s a hint: the new ones have an automatic pilot light. I’d flambe before gassing my self to death.
    And besides, it’s like the last line of that Dorothy Parker poem “Resume”.
    You might as well live.

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  62. I get blood in my eye.

    That’s after I’ve done all the things that usually make me feel better. The chocolate, the girl movies, the bath, the love-myself-hug..the self-talk, the turning my love outward, the determined squishing of mushy lemons all in the faint hope of making some truly abominable lemonaid…sometimes NONE of that works as well as me getting too mean to die, too pissy to wither and too mule stubborn to bend over.

    Screw enduring and making peace with the things slowly smothering you.

    Fight back.

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  63. Personally, I go out and put out birdseed for the bird & squirrel population and watch them enjoy it, and then put a couple of thin slices down in the kitchen for my ant colony to go mad with joy about. Not everybody’s cheering-up cup of tea, though.

    There are some great suggestions here, but I think you should also recognize your right to go places and “fill the well” when it comes to writing. You’ve been working under deadline for so long, pulling material out of the finite inside-of-you — if you just turn to your normal cheering-up things, they won’t change the net creativity balance inside you. I think you need to consider some way to put new things back into the place you’ve been drawing from.

    I mean, other than chocolate, which is excellent, but not really well-filling. If I were a professional with a prescription pad, I would send you to a nice hotel room in a city relevant to the book or section of the book that’s frustrating you the most. And I would prescribe a coffee shop with wi-fi in the vicinity of a large police station in that city, you at a table that has good acoustics and lots of conversations to overhear bits of, and an appointment with the Public Affairs officer at that police department to bounce police details off of. And then a yummy lunch and dinner in places you’ve never eaten before, followed by a hot bath and a nice long night’s sleep in that hotel.

    After you followed that prescription, I’d tell you to go back home and tell your relieved dog family about everything that happened to you, good and bad.

    That’s also what _I_ would do, at least if I was some kind of smart professional writer person or something.

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  64. Just discovered a short-term cure: go read the bloggess (http://thebloggess.com/). For maximum effect, scroll down until you hit the story about Beyonce, the Giant Metal Chicken. By now it has its own facebook page with more than 15,000 followers. If that doesn’t make you smile for a sec, you really got it bad.

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      1. Oh, man! I had completely forgotten about DYAC. I laughed until I scared the dog. I had to stop when I got to the “endurance masturbation” race. “Dad? WTF?” I couldn’t breathe!

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  65. I clean the house. Sometimes cleaning out a drawer will do it, but there have been times when I found myself dusting the ceiling because everything else sparkled. (Which served two purposes, clean ceilings and the dust falling down gave me more to dust.) Besides having the satisfaction of seeing a clean house, I’m exhaused which makes the gas oven too much trouble to contemplate.

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  66. Writing and reading. It’s as simple as that for me. Both viable options for escaping, if only for a little while. My heart aches for you, Jenny, and I’ll send you positive thoughts 🙂

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  67. Therapist. (Guides in prioritizing and sorting stuff.)

    Walking.

    Travel, even if it’s only a car trip to a park or someplace not on my beaten path. Can be combined with walking.

    Reading does not work, I can’t stop concentrating on the bad shit when it gets bad. Ditto movies.

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  68. I wish I lived on the ocean. That would do it for me.
    Effexor helps.
    Call the grandkids. Skype the grandkids.

    Sending AWLVs. Argh White Light Vibes.

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    1. Oh Jill, I love this: AWLVs!

      And yeah, water is healing in all of its forms. I’m an ocean girl too, but I love me some waterfalls. Even the fake yard type are good. Sadly, toilets are not.

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  69. dogs. knitting. garden. music. lie in hammock watch branches in breeze. gyrotonic or gyrokinesis. do a hard thing for someone else.

    and I think about the opening scenes in sex lies and videotape, when the Andie McDowell character is at the therapists, frantic about garbage while her sister sleeps with her husband and her life is hollow. I don’t want to be that. if my life is hollow, I want to be able to pay enough attention to it to fill it up, not waste shrink money on yattering about garbage. I mean. outside the movies, who gets the hollow spots filled in by the glorious James Spader?

    honestly, what usually gets me through the (navy as opposed to powder) blue patches is the camus thing about the invincible summer.

    And then regardless of how deep I’m in, I decide that I’m going to live as though at the very least it was spring and things weren’t going to heck in a handbasket and I somehow force myself to live out of a place of resilience that I do not necessarily feel. If someone asks, I can tell them what’s up, where that means that I’m down, but otherwise – no. I get myself living on the same clock as the world. I stop eating sugar. I get myself to exercise however necessary. I get manicures and pedicures and massages and I change my sheets every 3 or 4 days. I take very conscientious care of the things that when I’m okay, I let slide sometimes more than a little, because if the world is going to heck, it’s rough to be in it, and I need to be sure I can stand to be in my little piece.

    At the end of the day, my capacity for joy is as great, if not greater, than my capacity for despair. I’d way rather be joyful. Sometimes it’s a distasteful amount of work to be there, in the joy place, but I am a better person when I live there.

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  70. Lots of great advice here. I would add this: distract yourself with something you can sink your teeth into and jump-start your energy. I just read an online article at The Gazette that said this: “According to a debate launched on Thursday by a medical journal in Britain, romantic novels are an invisible yet potent threat to women’s sexual and emotional health.” (If I could get it through moderation I’d add the link.)

    Given your academic background & research into women’s fiction, I’m sure you’ll understand the basis for the premise better than I do. Then maybe you can dissect it and explain it to the rest of us:)

    Also, Crimes of the Heart was a fab movie–love to see you do a series on PopD about “sisterhood” films that celebrate the strength of female relationships and their value in our lives.

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  71. Medium stress:
    I read happy stuff, particularly romances with witty dialogue or fantasies where wrongs are righted and the good guys win in the end. Hold the angst, please. Extra bonus points if I read in a bubble bath or outside on a nice day.

    If the world is going to hell in a hand-basket, then I will limit my news access.

    I plan dream holidays. For me, these are usually by the seaside, maybe in Greece or Italy. I can spend hours looking-up house rentals in Greece. Of course, that leads to looking at houses for sale in Greece, and since Greek houses are often old and oddly built, that leads to wondering how I would decorate a house with the bedroom downstairs, the living room/kitchen upstairs, the bathroom off the patio and access to all three from an outdoor stairway only. (It was a very old house.)

    I’m trying to break the habit of turning to food for comfort. I don’t enjoy wearing my stress and right now I wear rather a lot of it. But if the choice is between me wigging out or eating a brownie, then pass the plate.

    I go for a walk, but some place really nice: a nearby garden or historic monument. I live near Philadelphia, so that’s possible for me. Or I just take a day trip somewhere–alone. I’m an introvert, thus the mental quiet time is restorative.

    Panic-stress:
    If I’m panic-stressed because what I have to do is overwhelming, then I make myself face doing just one little thing. One little bit of it…bird by bird.

    Someone is going to prison, dying/dead, or a sinkhole just swallowed my house stress:
    I think Bob would tell you to imagine the worst-case scenario and plan what you are going to do in that case. Having a plan and taking what action you can to be ready brings some ease of mind. I find the worse the stress, however, the better I tend to cope (at least immediately). Disaster focuses the mind and the unimportant stuff falls away.

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  72. Buffy…start with Season 1 welcome to the Hellmouth and keep going until you feel better.

    If that doesn’t work and you don’t want to reread some of your earlier works like Manhunting try the Pottery Barn catalogue. That’s good for at least 2 hours of solid day dreaming and planning, and from there the Williams-Sonoma catalogue, maybe add Pioneer Women to the mix.

    and then there’s this:

    http://www.amazon.com/Alexander-Terrible-Horrible-Good-Very/dp/1416985956/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1312851826&sr=1-1

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  73. Perhaps there is a value to experiencing the “very bad day” as a very bad experience and then see what happens when you come out the other end–and chances are that you will. The reality of life is that it often sucks, personally, socially and politically. And, we soldier on. For most of us there is no real alternative. Maybe we keep the stiff upper lip. Maybe we rage against the machine. Maybe we become existentialist. But, this is real and perhaps shouldn’t be avoided. It might even become art or inform art. I recall, when you changed over to this blog format, that you talked about the darkness, which, by the way, I wasn’t excited about. Seems to me it is here now.

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  74. Just because you have an otherwise great life doesn’t mean you don’t deserve love and support when something makes you blue. Hell, my life is out of Disney and the political situation alone is making my head fall off (still shouting the word “asshat!” as it rolls away). So, you know, share. We are there to help you breathe. Or to fry you bacon and help you roll the body in a carpet to put in the trunk. Whatever.

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    1. I wish I could like this 1000 times, just for the “Asshat!! (roll, roll, roll)” image (-:. The rest is good, too, of course.

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    2. Now that’s just funny and you made me laugh out loud. I’m going to carry that image around with me all day. LOL

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  75. 1.Cry. If I can’t cry, I listen to sad songs until I can.
    2.Eat.
    3.Take a walk.(Sadly, I resort to this less often than #2)
    4. Listen to an audio self help book– I like Unlimited, by Jillian Michaels.
    5.Cuddle my cat.
    6.Call a friend and have a long inane conversation about books and tv; nothing “serious.”
    7. Rewatch Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
    8. Reread a comfort book– L.M. Montgomery’s Emily series works well for me, or any of Laura Kinsale’s books.
    8. If it’s day, even if I don’t have to go to work, I take a shower, put on clean clothes and makeup, and pretend to be an adult. Even though the freedom to loll in my pajamas all day feels luxurious, in practice I find it adds to depression.
    9. If it’s night and I can’t sleep, I make a list of all the things I’m worried about so that I won’t forget, and sometimes that lets me relax enough to sleep. If I still can’t sleep I take a Benadryl.
    Your mileage may vary.

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  76. I do something. Clean the bathroom, dig the garden, something that gets a little bit of my life back under control.

    Well, no I don’t. Mostly I curl into a ball and read the Internet. But the times I do do something, it makes me feel much better.

    And I stroke my rescue cat, listen to her purr and tell myself that everything’s ok, Puss says so.

    Jenny, you do realize that stuff like thyroid and adrenal problems can make you feel like crap, right?

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  77. When it’s really bad, I turn off the phone and all the screens and reread Fast Women or Bet Me. I’m not sure that helps you.

    I have a friend I can call, who has more personal crises than me so I never feel like I’m imposing too much.

    And if it goes on for more than one day I turn off the goddamned TV and the radio news and all serious websites and make myself get up and go for a walk every morning in the sun. Or whatever time the sun comes out. Sometimes in January it’s about 1 pm.

    Tell you the truth, though, as much as I feel bad for you I adore your doom & gloom & everything’s going to hell posts. Because they’re funny anyway. If you were this successful and also smugly happy all the time, I don’t think I could stomach it.

    p.s. both my most-successful and most beautiful friends are also often depressed and anxious. I think I’ve decided it’s the character trait that drives achievement – folks can be generally content, but then they end up just being the audience, you know?

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  78. First thoughts: you just keep on keeping on. Pamper yourself, and look for paths that will lead out of the tunnel. The world has *always* been on the brink of catastrophe . . . people made it through 1929 and the Great Depression. They made it through World Wars and the Holocaust . . . at great price, but also because the alternative is not really an alternative: eternal torment in Hell if that’s where your belief system leads you, or even just a simple dissolution of cells.

    It *does* sound tempting, that final cut and then just nothing but rest and eternal nothingness. But . . . have you ever taken a long break to do nothing? Personally, I can get through about three days of sheer nothingness, and then I’m ready to do something (anything) again. (Sometimes, I can’t even make it through a couple of hours!)

    Maybe that’s the answer, if you aren’t dangerously depressed already. Take a nothingness break. No reading. No computer. No cooking. No TV. Just eating pre-cooked stuff and sleeping and going to the bathroom. I’d say aim for three days of this, and see how you feel. It’s going to be even worse if you’re dead (-:.

    If you are clinically depressed, though, please see a health professional . . . people say can work wonders . . . .

    *Exercise: I can’t do this for myself. I have to do it in small spurts and I have to fool myself that it’s useful — well, lawn mowing is good. Wall painting is probably good too.

    *Read a pretty much useless book on the four humours of the body, but one thing that stuck was that in ancient times, they treated depression with what they could: good food, good music, a change of scenery, hydrotherapy (baths, drinking waters, etc.) Better than a lobotomy, anyway.

    *I’ve been feeling a little sad lately, for no real reason, and yesterday, I thought, “What would happen if I pretended I had religion?” (-: I would praise the Lord, and maybe sing a hymn or two, maybe make a wreath of flowers or sacrifice a pre-cooked chicken to the gods. Religion gets a lot of crap these days, but simple things about it can be so joyous. I decided not to do any of those things, but just thinking about it for a few minutes made me happier.

    *You’ve done a lot of good in the world, often by doing things you seem to enjoy a lot. Books aside, can I say, “Pig Suitcase?” I wouldn’t be surprised if a thousand dreams were launched with that project; my daughter made a Peace & Love suitcase thanks to that idea. Please, stick around, and do stuff that you love. It’ll be enough, really it will.

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    1. Oh, GOOD, the pig suitcase inspired your daughter, that makes me feel good.
      Pigs and giant chickens. What the world needs more of.

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  79. Sorry to hear that the black dog is sitting on your shoulder, Jenni. I have had many days when I feel that nothing is redeemable, and some of my remedies are:
    1. Get in a bath of Crabtree & Evelyn-scented water with a glass of chardonney and a good book – Welcome to Temptation, The Grand Sophy, Cold Comfort Farm, Three Men in a Boat. Helpful music: Pacabel’s Canon, Handel’s Messiah, Billy Joel’s You’re Only Human.
    2. A walk in some kind of nature – by the river, in the bush, on the beach.
    3. Reading about gardening and looking at pictures (this works though I don’t garden).
    4. Watch Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat/Mamma Mia.
    5. Go to bed early, with classical music playing if necessary so I can listen to that and not let thoughts pile up. Bach’s cantatas are perfect for this.
    6. Get up and watch the sunrise.

    None of these will work immediately, but after a few I will feel better, gradually.

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          1. I finished reading Blackout and All Clear recently, and my first thought was “But now what am I going to do with my life??” Fortunately, Primeval is there to fill the gaping void.

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  80. I lay on the outdoor furniture on the deck, in the shady part, and just BE. No phones, no computers, nothing, just being, things fall into perspective, I look at the the trees, the sky, just being a part of nature. Do you hear the river flowing by, maybe a little lapping on the shoreline? I read a book, doesn’t have to be a favorite, fall asleep, read a little bit more, fall asleep, talk to God about things, fall asleep, read a bit more, fall asleep, it’s very refreshing. Cry a little or a lot, fall asleep again, read a bit more, fall asleep. Restores the body and soul.

    Skype your grand-babies. Cry, because they are so beautiful, go back outside and sleep some more.

    Get lymph drainage massages. Very cleansing to the body, gets rid of toxic build up. Don’t know how it would affect you with your blood thing. I’ve got asthma and low thyroid and this really helped get the old body working again. Truly helped with inflammation and sluggish body and mind.

    Watch a Cary Grant movie or your favorite guy of the day. Who do you feel like watching?

    Make something crafty or yummy for the tum. Clean, throw out stuff. Garden. Go for a walk.

    Listen to classical music, no sad songs. Do whatever you need to do to restore your soul.

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  81. I read the “Patty” series, books written by Carolyn Wells around the turn of last century for young women. Patty and girlfriends wear kimonas while brushing theirs hair at the vanity before dressing for an evening party, then change into silk or taffeta frocks and walk into the garden along paths lit by Japanese lanterns. Problems pop up, but all in all the evening went swell. Punch is drunk.
    Also comic books, specifically the Get Fuzzy books by Darby Conley and “Edie Ernst USO Singer Allied Spy” by the wonderful Brooke McEldowney.
    Of course, the sainted Heyer canon, the unsaintly Sayers.
    I allow my cutie pie dogsters to lick my face.
    Ice cream in moderation, best eaten with swarms of marshmallow sauce.
    Yoga on the beach, good only in summer. Always feel different getting up from the sand than I did sitting down.
    Reading the commentary in Argh Ink.

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    1. 9 Chickweed Lane amuses me to no end! The stories are a lot of fun, but that guy really loves curves. Can you imagine what fun it would be to be a guy who makes his living drawing sexy dancers (with the odd cat thrown in)? Yay, Brooke!

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  82. It is a very bad day today. I’ve been doing a bit of what I have to and then a bit of comfy chair, cozy blanket and Cinderella Deal. I had to skip the sexy scenes as I do when I am really struggling. I finished it and was stalling by coming here instead of getting ready to leave the house. I am sorry you are not “glass full”. But I feel a bit less bad to be reminded that I am not the only one struggling. So thank you for writing what is real for you.

    actual helpful hint: I put bits of card stock each listing two things that makes me feel better in the pages of the books I am most likely to hide in. I use things like walk, swim, groom my cats, dance, draw or paint-scribbles not representational, coffee at my favorite cafe, sing along with favorite songs, visit a park where people take their dogs or kids, go to a happy movie, visit the museum or a toy store, actually just go outside at all helps even when it rains. My deal with myself is that if I find one I must spend at least fifteen minutes to an hour doing one of the things. If I have time to reread a book I have time to go for a walk or whatever.

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  83. I have had years of very bad days.There are times when I feel like everything is lost, and I am wasting my life. And when I feel like crawling into the oven, when I cannot fathom how things could possibly get worse, I look at my daughter. She is still here. And she is safe. And there is nothing, NOTHING, so horrible that it trumps that.
    Today, mothers are burying their children , or praying their bodies will be recovered. When you put your life into that kind of perspective, you realize just how lucky you are.
    My grandfather told me that people forget that their needs are met, even if their wants are not. And when you start feeling like your wants are more important, help someone else fill their needs, and you will find yourself understanding how good you really have it. He has never been wrong…

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    1. Thank you for your grandfather’s words. They truly resonated for me today. Needs being met even if wants are not. I try to put my anxious thoughts in perspective by looking at what are real concerns and not ones my mind has manufactured.

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      1. You are very welcome. Always willing to share the Grandpa love. He had so much, and the more I give away, it seems the more I have left. Oh, I miss him so.

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    2. I’m in the process of trying to get finances “fixed” because I am bad with money. Not enough for basic bills etc. I whine to my best friend who helps me, then next month it starts all over again. I’m old. I can’t work 2 jobs because the first one wears me out. When I go to the store these days, Wal-Mart, because their prices fit my budget, I now put things into 2 categories: a) Do I need it? or b) do I want it? If it is ‘b’ I move on. I’ve been so depressed about it that I don’t even work on the bills and that makes it worse…then I think about all I have and that I have bought my own home, I have 2 little rescue dogs who love me and a rescue cat who worships me and I have food on the table and clothes on my back and that all important job. I forget it all and am so very grateful at the end of the day. Hang in there. It always passes even when you don’t think it will. I watch “The Proposal” or “The Lake House” and am happy. On my way to work I listen to to one of your wonderfully funny books. Thank you for that.

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  84. Go for a walk or several. Clean the floor (I like hoovering). Hug a horse. Best of all, spend time brushing a horse. It’s physically active, so calms the anxiety hormones, plus they smell soooooo good and you get emotional sustenance from a happy pony.

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    1. Hey Strop!

      Horses are certainly my first thought, but I don’t know if horses work for non-horse people. I think we have some strange bit that is flipped one way for us, and another way for most people? Or something is set differently. But it is true that leaning on them and smelling them makes me happier instantly.

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      1. Maybe we have a particular pheromone receptor in our nostrils. Or something. I do keep telling jenny she should get a pony. A nice ride-and-drive type, so she can take the dogs out in the buggy.

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      2. It’s really amazing what smelling a horse’s coat will do. It just makes everything better.

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    2. And then there are those of us who wouldn’t pet and brush and smell a horse if you paid us. Er, me. Horses: large, potentially dangerous, can be slobbery, and no, I don’t have the “horse smell good” gene. But I do for cats. 🙂

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      1. (-: I love the idea of horse, and I’m very glad to see posts like this so I can enjoy vicariously. Because I was bitten on the ass by a horse looking for apples, so I really don’t like real horses. But the Idea of Horse is very relaxing!

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  85. I would suggest solitude. When I have too much on my plate and the world is spinning too fast for me, I need to go someplace quiet and decompress. Sometimes all I need is an hour, sometimes I need a day or two of quiet with no responsibilities and no one bothering me.

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  86. Firstly a big hug for what you’re going through Jenny.
    I am a natural cave bunny and when things go wrong I have a tendency to burrow into my cave and be by myself which is probably the worst thing to do. So I have to be disciplined about dealing with hard problems and very bad days or they become bad weeks etc etc.
    So I read, I eat chocolate (just a little…well I try), I go for a walk (helps to unravel the stuff going round and round in my head) and I do this thing my Mum used to say: ‘wash your face, brush your hair and go do something for someone else’. That last one works every time. It doesn’t make the problems go away but it takes you out of yourself and you can come back to them with a clearer head and maybe even a smile on your face. And you are not alone.

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  87. Read:
    Bet Me or Faking It
    Chronicles of Narnia, especially The Silver Chair and The Dog and His Boy
    Ellis Peters’ mystery stories, especially A Morbid Taste for Bones, The Virgin In Ice, and the Grass Widow’s Tale.

    For me it is important that the book take the bad stuff seriously, but also reward folks who are genuinely trying to be “good” (a scary word, but take it in the best possible way.)

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  88. I really don’t do anything. I have lived long enough to know that I’m just going to have to go through periods like these. Frankly, it doesn’t have to do with the economy or whatever my kid’s going through or my husband’s job issues–because I know I can cope with all of these things when the cloak’s not covering my head. I call it the tunnel. I don’t go through it often; I don’t need drugs or chocolate or alcohol to get through it. I just have to keep very quiet. I have two friends I can vent to–and that helps–sorta. Maybe it’s a hormonal thing? Maybe it’s just a normal cycle of the human psyche. No idea. But I know it will pass. I read more, continue to exercise (even if just taking a walk) and go very, very easy on myself. It will pass.

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  89. When you’re blessed with a great life, there’s a great amount of guilt when you’re depressed. Counting your blessings only brings more guilt along with a sense of weakness because you’re feeling nothing will ever be good again. What the Hell? There’s already so much good, it’s practically criminal to feel bad. You might not even talk about it to friends. After all, if they have less than you do, they have the right to stare at you incredulously. Don’t you know how good you have it? Buck up! Count those blessings! The fact that there might be chemical imbalances doesn’t mitigate the guilt at all. If you can afford the meds and therapists, you have no right to misery. If you have so many wonderful gifts, there’s something shameful about not being grateful every moment. There’s something bad about feeling bad. You know it doesn’t make sense. You know it’s irrational. Doesn’t help.

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  90. My “No it’s not.” moments can be horrific. I rubbed all the hair of a spot on my head when my twins were a year old, my daughter was five, my husband was in law school and I had to work. (And no he didn’t ever become a lawyer.) It killed me to be away from those babies.

    I’ve spent time driving in the car and sobbing about wanting one thing so bad, but knowing it could harm my kids and so not doing anything. I felt genuinely crazy. Arguing with myself and totally immobilized. Anti depressants helped for that. It was really good to get that second voice out of my head.

    I’m totally into escape. Sleep for one. And when I heard my MIL was coming for two weeks I made arrangements to stay with a friend so I could write for one of those weeks. I will never live up to those George people’s expectations. Limiting contact is best in those cases. Same with some other George people I could mention.

    It doesn’t matter how good our lives are in general, sometimes it just seems as though there is no solid ground. I don’t know why this is. Everyone else has already given fine ways to feel better. For me that’s okay for the smaller bad days. For bigger bad days I need to escape. Breathe, figure things out. Sleep. Take drugs. Hell, I’m on so many pills these days I should live forever.

    Now I’m feeling guilty because instead of writing, which is why I’m supposed to be hiding out here at my friend’s place, I’m either sleeping or reading. Bad me.

    Hope you can shake the bad days, Jenny. I’ll send Argh vibes and Betty vibes and Cherry vibes, and just plain old love and support vibes. You are so smart and compassionate, you deserve peace as well.

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  91. I’ve never found that saying “I don’t really have anything to complain about” helps because though it is inevitably true that someone, somewhere is worse off than me that just makes me feel guilty about being down anyway.

    Here are my tactics:

    Macaroni and cheese / grilled cheese sandwich / bacon

    Turn off my mind and turn on the music loud and do housework. Mindless but necessary and I usually feel a sense of accomplishment afterwards.

    If I can’t muster the energy for housework, I snuggle on the couch with a quilting project and a marathon of House or Bones.

    All in all I just keep putting one foot in front of another…

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  92. It must be something in the atmosphere. We all seem to have recently had a downer.
    On Sunday (1) a good friend called with some very bad news about herself. (2) we missed the train my sister was suppose to leave on and she spent an hour waiting for us to get back and pick her up. They couldn’t get her another seat until Monday. (3) my husband was working on the dishwasher and something ruptured (the dishwasher not him) and flooded the kitchen. (4) the sausages I was bbqing for dinner suddenly caught fire and turned into charcoal briquettes (I had the flame on very low – go figure). (5) When I went to pick up the pizza for dinner they flipped it out of the oven and onto the floor. (6) my husband decided to share his worries about the economy and what it means to our retirement (he just retired), just before we went to bed so I stayed up half the night worrying. Now admittedly none of this was as bad as the first item but it was an incredible day for bad stuff and screw ups.

    After spending Monday leaking tears, I tried the 5 things to be grateful for list (major cuddles from two of my cats, my husband made lunch, my cholesterol test was way down, my garden is doing the best it has in years, the cat came in for the evening when called), I had a good nights sleep, and this morning the world is a better place again. But still, what’s up with all this?

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  93. Oh man. This very bad day stuff might be contagious because I know I am feeling it to. Sometimes you don’t want to pull yourself up by your own bootstraps, but rather have what I like to call a pity party. I always give myself time to be completely miserable and indulge in ice cream and cookies. I feel like after I give myself a chance to really let the bad mood come out it is easier to get rid of. Then I put on my big girl panties and get moving.

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  94. Usually when I’m in this place…….and I am now: being under-employed, having more bills than money, and watching the stock market gyrations decimate my savings, and being pretty sure our politicians are doing everything in their power to run our country into the ground, I can’t sleep. I wake at 3AM and the dark thoughts come rushing in.

    What I do is pray. I just talk to God as if He was sitting on the corner of my bed and was all ears to every lament I could voice. Somehow this helps because it’s not formal, it’s simply talking very matter of factly. I believe it helps.

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  95. I haven’t read all the posts, so I’m sure I am reiterating what others have said. It’s a bad time. I had expected to see light at the end of the tunnel soon, but yes,, you’ve got it: it’s an oncoming train. Really bad fears, not yet medically confirmed, about my husband’s health. And then there are external things, like the present riots here in London. Started in Tottenham, about 3 miles away from me. Worse than anything I remember since the appalling race riots of 1959, or in a different way, the IRA bombing campaign of the ’70s, when you never knew if the building you were working in was suddenly going to go ‘BOOM’.
    The only effective escapes: knitting, reading, art, music. Because my latest musical obsession sings in Catalan, I am learning the language. That is an escape, too. Beautiful language, and unlike Arabic, which I have tried, and miserably failed, to learn for decades, I have a bit of a head start, with Latin and French. Being a 70-year-old swooning fangirl is weird (did you young people know that the symptoms of infatuation stay the same, however ancient one may be, including that strange tingling in the fingers when you even see a pic of the beloved object? Or maybe I’m just immature) , but it is better than dwelling on a grim future.
    Hang in there, Jenny (and all of you who are stressed): in the end, all that matters is what we have achieved, and how we have affected other people. Jenny is one of the ones whose influence for good has been immense.

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    1. I thought about you yesterday AgTigress, and wondered how bad it was over there. The TV news shows us some pictures and some buildings in flames and a lot of people running around but it’s hard to grasp (or at least it is for me) exactly how much damage is being done. I recall riots in Los Angeles, with crazy looting and burning of cars and goodness knows what else, and even though I was miles away it was a scary time.
      Are things calmer today?

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      1. Robena: it’s pretty bad in some areas in the northern, eastern and southern fringes of London, but all right where I live and in Central London. It seems to be rioting just for the heck of it, and for the chance to loot: no ideology or cause involved. They are bringing in vast numbers of police from other regions tonight (though rioting has already spread to Birmingham, Liverpool and Bristol), so the powers that be are expecting more trouble. 🙁

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    2. And then came the riots. I figured you were safe away, and Strop, too, but it must be awful. I always think of England as peaceful, it’s the US that does that. Or as my cousin said when I told him I wasn’t moving to California because of the earthquakes, “Hell, we haven’t had an earthquake since the last riot.” That’s the kind of attitude necessary for survival.
      Thinking of you, Ag.

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  96. Know thyself is the first answer, which it seems you do. If you know the depression is lasting longer and for less reason than usual, then drugs really do need to be an option. They can be as temporary as necessary. That said–
    I give up reading newspapers and listening to the news. I talk to my friends, get out of the house, find a good book (not easy when depressed). I do something physical. If I can, I hug a grandkid or niece or nephew. I redo a room. I turn on the music and dance, dance, dance…

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  97. Your humor is a good place to start, and you still have it with your comment about your oven. 🙂 Mine really is gas, but it’s got an electric ignitor and after 30 seconds, shuts the gas off if the ignitor doesn’t work. *sigh*

    Comfort reads from times past. Great movies I can bawl my eyes out to (or anything with Gerard Butler…) a few days in bed with the books and movies both (since I can’t seem to get Gerry in there…) getting out of the house and sitting in the park or a coffee house or anywhere that isn’t home, with my paper or nook or music. Drugs, but mine are prescribed and trust me, just because they are doesn’t mean they always work. Because they don’t.

    I guess I like the ‘glass’ above. I have a glass. It might be empty sometimes, but there’s no hole in the bottom so chances are eventually, it will hold something again. Until then, I do the best I can.

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  98. OK, here are some things which work for me:
    A long bath in Jasmine bath salt, with a good face pack on.
    Dirty Rotten Scoundrels-that film with Michael Caine in it.
    Homemade chicken soup-organic products if possible
    Yoga exercises before you got to sleep. Especially the one where you have your feet up in the air for 8 long breaths. It massages your thyroid gland and really helps you to sleep well.
    REading a great book in bed. I just read the perfect one, it’s called “The Provence cure for the brokenhearted” by Bridget Asher. It will make you cry and then swoon for that French guy in your dreams. Good to read this after your bath (and facepack is removed), sipping chicken soup in bed, with the best Belgian chocolate you can afford, on stand by.

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  99. Okay, after the meds, chocolate, and the new Wendy’s berry shake (YUM!)… there are the ‘comfort’ reads – like Bet Me or Agnes and some other titles and authors – Julia Quinn, SEP etc… But lately I have discovered the wackiness, silliness and innocence of Glee. Yes, I’m behind – but finally got around to it. But I have been listening to the music CDs in my car. And even if I do not care for the particular song, the Glee version has so much pep, enthusiasm and energy – it makes me laugh, or if I like their version of the song, I sing along – very loudly. Hearing a peppy version of the Rocky Horror Picture Show songs is just the knee’s bees! 😉

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  100. I get depressed a lot, so I should be an expert on this.

    It helps me to be with happy people. I can’t wait for the OVRWA tea on Saturday.
    Hot baths, Jenni Crusie books, music…

    I think you should publish a list of all the wonderful books that were mentioned. So many I had never heard of.

    Party anyone?

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  101. I’m finding it harder to fight my way out of the dark days at the moment. The things that usually help aren’t really an option when I need them the most – sleep, not on the cards with a two year old who’s given up sleeping through the night; friends, can’t visit them when we’re all perpetually sick with the viruses our kids pick up; time to do stuff to make myself feel better and fix things, scarce between the demands of a highly talkative five year old and an extremely active two year old. And it’s become a vicious cycle – I get sick because my immune system is depressed because I’m not getting enough sleep and activity, and I get less sleep and time because I’m perpetually sick. And too darn sleep-deprived to think my way through solutions. That said, I know how lucky I am – two gorgeous boys and a husband who does his level best to help me out and cut me a break.

    Reading is a sanity check for me. It’s always been my mental white-noise to block out pointless negative thinking. I’m making myself go to the library at least one night a week on my own, for even just half an hour of book contact.

    I crazy quilt. It’s my creative outlet, and at the end of the day if nothing else I can point to a couple of embroidered seams and know I’ve accomplished SOMETHING, however small. For me, I’ve found that having something that I’ve accomplished in the day is important in staving off the downward spiral.

    If all else fails, I’m working on allowing myself to crash and hit bottom, and trying to remind myself that this does not make me a terrible person, I’ll pick myself up and deal with everything soon… just not now.

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  102. There is an olde Horseman’s saying ….

    ” The outside of a horse is good for the inside of man” (or woman)

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    1. “Outside of a dog, a book is man’s best friend. Inside of a dog it’s too dark to read”
      Groucho Marx

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    2. I know I would find consorting with a horse very calming, but alas, there are no horses available for me. I love the horsy smell, too. But as others have said, other animals who are generous enough to allow humans to be their personal friends are also soothing to the spirit. For most of us, that means cats and dogs, but for others, it might mean anything from a goat or a ferret to a tame bird. We humans owe our domesticated species a huge debt of gratitude.

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  103. you crochet?! as i was reading your post, i wanted to suggest knitting, but was afraid of being trite. but if you crochet, you totally understand why i’d suggest knitting.

    buy yourself some yummy, yummy, decadent yarn (like sundara silky merino), and make something. make a cowl or hat, and use a pattern that’s a little bit of a bitch to follow: it’ll make every stitch, every row you do correctly, all that much more of an accomplishment. lose yourself in a project for a little while, and hopefully your world will have righted itself in the meantime. but if not, at least you’ll have a finished project that will have you looking forward to the cooler days to come!

    be of good cheer,
    anne

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  104. I agree with everyone who said a romantic comedy but also they have hit a dry spell. I clean something or someplace I enjoy being. Whether it is in doors or out. The cleaning is not the enjoyable part but being able to have control of something and enjoying your labor after is refreshing. For example today I am cleaning my vehicle. I hate cleaning it and find no joy in it while it is being done, hence the procrastination of me being on line at this very moment. I know at the end of the day when I will get in it and for the next few, until the pooch muddies it up again, I will feel calm. Last time I picked a room, gutted and reorganized. I even made a little place to sit and do puzzles… that’s another option. They are horribly frustrating to do but when finished you feel better and find your self on cloud nine for a few days. Best of luck!

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  105. I try to do something creative, no matter how small, to deal with all the chaos. I figure there are plenty of people in this world who are having a really, really tough time and that I have plenty to be thankful for. I wish there was some magic I could offer that would make a difference.

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  106. I like to go shoot clays. You have to focus on what you are doing and the fact that you’re handling a deadly weapon, so there’s no time to dwell on everything that’s going wrong in your life. Brings a bit of peace for a time. And to be honest, there’s nothing like seeing a clay disintegrate to make your stress disintegrate with it.

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  107. Well I guess the lack of replies from you here just goes to show the depth of despair you are feeling. Everybody manages in their own way, and I doubt whether trying a new method when you feel sunk really works. I suspect you have to choose something when you don’t feel so bad and try to make a habit of it for when the baddies strike. I hope whatever you are doing works sooner rather than later. You can see how much you are cared for. Dogs are good. At least you can’t get out of feeding them. Take care Jenny.

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  108. 1. Going to see my favorite band play. If can’t be done soon, then
    2. Buying tickets to see said band play in the future. Sometimes the longer the ticket is waiting on the fridge, the better. If all else fails,
    3. Listening to the favorite music and watching concert videos.

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  109. Dear Jenny,
    You always seem to be really happy when you visit Grenitch{?} Village. Can you take a “time Out” there.

    Best of luck

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  110. I grab a handful of cat kibble and treats and a comfort book (not to be fanish, but yours are among the ones I grab, I also love Wrede’s Enchanted Forest Chronicles for that time). I then slowly dole out the kibble to my cat while I read so that he stays right near me and I can hear him purring. Purrs have been proven to reduce stress so I figure it’s his job to help me deal.

    I also like to call my grandparents. Before I started working at the shelter I’d go in sometimes for an extra shift of volunteer work so that I could feel like I was doing Something to improve the world. It helped a lot.

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  111. Well, this isn’t much help to you, but I read your blog when I need an entertaining distraction from life. So really, whiny posts are perfectly acceptable, because it’s a distraction from me whining.
    I guess in general, I like to keep my life in separate chunks, so that when something goes bad in one corner, I normally have something good going on in another corner. Which can on occasion lead to pure panic – I was in two shows that ran on the same time on the same night once. Bad idea.
    Other than that, I cope by crying, then distracting myself with someone else’s life – occasionally fictional. Music, movie, novels. Although I can see where novels for you would be a busman’s holiday. Good luck.

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  112. This is a tough time for me personally, as well. Dealing with being out of work for two years, though, thankfully have a wonderful husband who is working. But self-worth has plummeted. Reading is wonderfully therapeutic, but what can help most is doing something for someone else. Even if you have just one spare hour a week, volunteer, because, undoubtedly, there are people worse off who will benefit. And you will feel fantastic at making a small or big difference.

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  113. Oh, and exercise. Check with doc, of course, before starting anything. But move! Activity will improve mood and won’t add depressing inches, like too much chocolate will.

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  114. I’ve been low energy and slow for a few months. Turns out that despite living in SoCal, I had almost no vitamin D in my system. Or B12. See if you can get your vitamin levels checked because topping those off can be really helpful. I also find I am happier if I spend time in sunlight. You’ve got a porch and dogs – how much time do you all spend outside? With sun touching your skin?

    If I’m feeling really lousy, I give myself a couple days to wallow and sleep and read. Then I force myself to exercise – cardio exercise. Can be just walking, but if sleeping doesn’t fix it, sometimes movement will. Alternatively, you can do an active project like re-paint a room.

    It also helps to see people or talk to them on the phone. You’ve got in-house support, but maybe it’s a good time to reach out and touch someone. In my case, usually no one’s home and I feel lousy after calling a bunch of folks, but then they start calling back and we line up a whole heap of things to do.

    Lastly, you always have a ton of projects going on. Do you have any room at all in the house where you don’t walk in and think “I gotta do something about that”? Because that will suck all the energy out of a body. For that, I hired an organizer and she’s like bottled lightning. We get more done together in 4 hours than I could get done by myself in 16. It’s crazy. (We started slow though. It took a few sessions to develop a rhythm.) At any rate, have one room that is just as done as it can be. If you have an unfinished project in that room, either finish the project or remove the project to another room. (This was advice I got from a friend after moving who insisted I had one room with no boxes in it – on the first day! Turns out she’s a genius, which I knew, but now I know she’s a genius about that too.)

    If things out of your control are still freaking you out, maybe write (more?) letters to your reps and senators. Then figure out what you can do to be D.O.N.E. with your most stressful project. Write out the steps. Because “finish book” is an impossible task but “re-read chapter 4 looking for character growth” is something you can do and then either stop or continue as you have the energy and desire. Then play with the dogs and kids. Good luck. This too shall pass.

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    1. CrankyOtter, this is fabulous advice.

      I would add, give yourself permission to let things go – especially projects that aren’t making you happy.

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  115. I find a lot of solace in the beauty of the landscape. Maybe you could go look at the river more?

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  116. I cry for a while. It helps to get it all out. I take a bubble bath, drink a glass of wine (or if its really bad I have fried eggs and beer… I know it sounds gross but it works for me… somthing about college) and then when I’m just tipsy enough to feel better but not so drunk I can’t write, I make a list. The list is always what I would do, in a perfect world, to make my situation better. It might not be a permanent solution but usually it makes me optimistic enough to get to sleep!

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  117. Monty Python usually does the trick for me. Everybody sing now: “Every sperm is sacred, every sperm is good….”

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    1. Or my favorite “The Galaxy Song”.

      “Just remember that you’re standing on a planet that’s evolving
      And revolving at nine hundred miles an hour,
      That’s orbiting at nineteen miles a second, so it’s reckoned,
      A sun that is the source of all our power.”

      My husband sings it to the kids….and Corwyn knows the lyrics by heart.

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      1. Which leads to They Might Be Giants…

        The sun is a mass of incandescent gas, a giagantic nuclear furnace
        Where hydrogen is built into helium at a temperature of millions of degrees
        The sun is hot the sun is not a place where we could live
        but here on Earth there’d be no light without the light it gives.

        or something like that.

        I’ve also been wondering if anyone cures the blues by following these lyrics:
        “Grab somebody sexy, tell ’em “hey!” Give me everything tonight.”

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        1. “The whole universe was in a hot, dense state . . . .” (-: I like Bare Naked Ladies, but I’m loving Steven Page’s new solo album. “All the young monogamists . . . .” (-: Absolutely haunting! And some good songs about depression . . . not solving depression, but saying, “yes, it’s here.” Page is so quirky . . . .

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  118. On the very, very worst day? Breathe. If you achieve nothing else with the day, get oxygen… Turn to your firends, online and face to face, and don’t worry about wearing them out because they will keep lifting you up. And then move yourself however you can into your next steps; therapy, travel, reimaging, antidepressants, whatever gets you get beyond coping and into living. Forgiving yourself for every day that you stay down or go backwards because you know you’re doing the best you can at the time you do it. On the best of days you fly and on the worst of days you breathe and on every day you can, you take from and give to your friends. At the point at which you can look at that and say it’s not bad for a life, you know you have way of getting through bad days 😉

    hope the piles of ideas and advice and good wishes are helping… and remembering that for a ton of people, your books may have been one of the things they had to get through a day…

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  119. Came across this advice someplace and thought it was excellent. Things haven’t changed too much since 1820 when it comes to Very Bad Days. Oh, and I recommend not moving to Australia (as in Alexander and the terrible, horrible etc). The bad days follow you.

    Letter to Georgiana Morpeth, 16 February 1820

    Dear Georgiana,
    Nobody has suffered more from low spirits than I have—so I feel for you. Here are my prescriptions.
    1st Live as well as you dare.
    2nd Go into the shower-bath with a small quantity of water at a temperature low enough to give you a slight sensation of cold.
    3rd Amusing books.
    4th Short views of human life—not further than dinner or tea.
    5th Be as busy as you can.
    6th See as much as you can of those friends who respect and like you.
    7th And of those acquaintances who amuse you.
    8th Make no secret of low spirits to your friends, but talk of them freely—they are always worse for dignified concealment.
    9th Attend to the effects tea and coffee produce upon you.
    10th Compare your lot with that of other people.
    11th Don’t expect too much from human life—a sorry business at the best.
    12th Avoid poetry, dramatic representations (except comedy), music, serious novels, melancholy sentimental people, and every thing likely to excite feeling or emotion not ending in active benevolence.
    13th Do good, and endeavour to please everybody of every degree.
    14th Be as much as you can in the open air without fatigue.
    15th Make the room where you commonly sit, gay and pleasant.
    16th Struggle by little and little against idleness.
    17th Don’t be too severe upon yourself, or underrate yourself, but do yourself justice.
    18th Keep good blazing fires.
    19th Be firm and constant in the exercise of rational religion.
    Believe me, dear Georgiana, your devoted servant, Sydney Smith

    From Auden WH, ed. Selected writings of Sydney Smith. London: Faber and Faber, 1967

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    1. I printed this list out. I think most of these still apply today. You’re right – not much has changed in the Very Bad Day.

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    2. Very interesting list, and very thought-provoking — both the the things on it I also find useful (purposeful activity) and those I am a bit dubious about (I can get behind “doing good,” but “pleasing everyone”? Not so much). Thanks for posting this!!!

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  120. The irony here is this…………I turn to you, either in a book or in my ear on audio. I turn to Lani Diane Rich, Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Susan Donovan, Rachel Gibson, Katie MacAlister, Janet Chapman, Catherine Anderson, Toni Blake, Christie Ridgway, Susan Andersen and so on. And I get lost in your words, your dialogue, and the place you’ve created on the page. I don’t organize my bookshelf alphabetically, it’s organized by the kind of “FIX” I need. They are organized by fun, heartwarming/feel good, laughter, whimsy, love and sexysexy. No matter what I need on any given Terrible Horrible No Good Very Bad Day, I find on my shelves. It may seem very simplistic, but when everything else is raining complications, simple is often the best solution for me. It was Welcome to Temptation that began it all for me, it was my first (healthy) version escape. I know I’ve said it to you before, but……….thank you for that.

    In the last 4 years, you and the rest of these amazing women, as well as a few more, have brought me back from hell and gone too many times to count. It’s where I find peace, calm and rejuvenation. And if I couple one of you with chocolate or wine or both really, I can truly reach Nirvana. I wish I could do the same for you – if I could I would do it so quickly your wonderfully witty head would spin!

    I hope you find what you need to give you back that “Nothing but good times ahead” feeling you need!!

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  121. When I was a bookseller, I once helped a couple who wanted to buy a ‘last book’ for a friend who was dying. The friend wanted something that was deep, not trivial or humourous, and he wanted something he’d never read before.

    No pressure.

    What I thought at the time, was that faced with imminent death, I’d just reread Georgette Heyer. Again. Any one of 10 or 12 favorites. For the millionth time.

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    1. Oh, GAWD…that’s horrible! I’d want fun, too. Or to pick my own damn meaningful book. Jeez…..

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  122. I’m remembering now how when things were really bad I turned to my sister-in-law and said “I hate everything.” She had no idea what I was talking about. But that’s how it is for me sometimes. Everything is Crap with a capital C and the truth is I do hate everything. Sometimes I feel as if my head is a giant pimple and if I could just squeeze hard enough all that crazy stuff in my head would just erupt out of the top of my head.

    If you didn’t know for sure I was crazy before? Well now you do.

    I can’t tell you what gets me through those times because I truly don’t know. My friends probably. Planning my great escape helps. Eating too much, perhaps. But I know what it feels like to not think it’s going to be okay. And I’m sorry you’re going through it, because I might wish it on my worse enemy, but I wouldn’t wish it on you. Feel Better.

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  123. I was sharing news of my 20-year-old daughter’s pregnancy with my 80-something neighbor, a British widow. Her response was, “Well, worse things happen at sea, I suppose.” I’ve taken that as my motto on rougher days. It gives me a little perspective, and makes me smile to think of her.

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  124. Road trips help me. It is hard to dash off with the two kids, but they always help me get perspective.

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  125. I come here. There’s usually some comment that makes me giggle. If that doesn’t work, and I’m really at the bottom, I start planning my demise. You know, what letters you’d leave, etc. That makes me think about the people I’d leave letters for and what my self-initiated exit would do to them. If you have any grain of sanity left, you understand you’re not pointing your weapon of choice at yourself only, you’re pointing it at every person you love and/or who loves you. That’s generally enough to boot me off the precipice in the right direction.

    Then there’s the house. I’d have to clean the house first. Well, at least do the dishes, pick up a little, etc. Who wants to do that when you’re depressed? Besides, if the house is clean, you’re generally not as depressed. And the pets have to be considered. Who’s going to take care of them? That makes me interact with the pets, which generally cheers me up.

    As for the country we live in, well, I just can’t watch the news anymore at all. There seems to be a complete and total absence of common sense, of ability to see the big picture, on the part of the majority of people in this country. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. Politics is not a la carte. When you vote on the basis of one issue, you better make damn sure you’re willing to eat everything that comes with it. It took eight long years to make this mess we’re in right now, and it’s a mess people chose by voting for an administration that cared nothing for the average American or fiscal reality. And now, it seems to me, those same people are trying to evade responsibility for what they voted for by blaming the guy who’s trying to dig the country out.

    And, now I’m depressed again. Sheesh. Time to take the border collies for a walk.

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  126. My coping tactics vary with the level of hopelessness. Romance novels are my drug of choice when I need to escape my life. I read Anne Lamott when I’m feeling despair – she has the right combination of reverence and irreverence, the right kind of crabby optimism, for me. She has an essay called “Loving your president, day 2” in her book Plan B that usually helps me deal with crazy politics.

    I use a lot of the tactics mentioned above – walking, sitting in nature, making things, physical activity, sparkly things, meditation. Also, helping others. If I’m in a big funk there’s no way I’m going to do something noble and volunteer someplace worthy (please, why bother trying to change the world when I already know it’s hopeless? is what my despairing self thinks), but little things picking up the trash in my neighborhood or offering a ride to someone who needs one can take the edge off my sense of hopelessness and powerlessness.

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  127. If not anything else, take comfort in the fact that so many strangers care deeply about your hurt. You have–what? 230+ comments. Those aren’t comments. They’re pleas for you to find a way out of whatever makes you feel that life won’t easily get better. That regard is not a thing easily won. No matter how crappy life is, remember: you matter. People care about you. They see in you humour, wisdom, tenacity and brains; almost certainly loyalty and a puckish self-awareness. Remember you have certain inanate skills that most people don’t. Hold tight against whatever ill wind blowing. Use those talents. And if they aren’t they aren’t the perfect weapon, tap on one of your friends, and ask to borrow theirs. If it’s a case of more body than mind, then search. Find the most bad-donkey physician you can.

    You will prevail, Jennie Crusie. I suspect you always have. Wisdom, charity and sympathy is something that’s only fine-tuned after a few hard body blows.

    End of sermon. Sorry, for some inexplicable reason, you have been much on my mind. Must be one of those woo-woo astrology things:-)

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  128. Make a change. Pick just one thing out of the million things that make you feel it’s not going to be all right, and do something about it. Choose something small that will give you an easy win, but make the effort. Strike a small blow and enjoy your success. Then pick one more thing and do it again. It feels empowering to fight back.

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    1. The only trouble with that is — in my case at least — fixing the things that depress me can often involve opening up someone else’s skull and dropping in a whole new mindset. To quote Richard Bach, “If your happiness depends on what someone else does, you have a problem.” Unfortunately, trying to do without other people brings its own set of problems.

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      1. That’s always a tricky one. I’m working on the idea that given that I can’t change what someone else does or says, or how they think, what can I do so that it doesn’t phase me anymore? Sometimes it’s as simple as asking them for something instead of stewing over it, or making a mental shift in how I think about it like not getting upset that my husband doesn’t want to talk in depth about feelings but learning to recognise the words of love in what he does for me instead. And sometimes it’s as drastic as recognising that a friendship has turned toxic, and walking away.

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  129. Some great suggestions.
    It depends on the type of suck I am experiencing. Dancing is good, comfort books are good, and as an Englishwoman a nice cup of tea is good, a run or weights work out, a hit of Buffy or Pride and Prejudice (any version).

    My new anti-suck device is the TED talks. They usually take 12-25 minutes, and they always inspire me. I particularly enjoyed Ken Robinson and Aaron O’Connell and a French mathematician whose name I can’t remember are ones I really remember with enjoyment. When I’m down, I also love the vlogbrothers (http://www.youtube.com/user/vlogbrothers).

    It is horrible when personal suck and world suck intertwine and overlap, but reminding ourselves that there is the possibility of awesomeness can sometimes reduce suck. That was a very vlogbrothers way of looking at it, but I won’t apologize.

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  130. Yeats ago I took a meditation class. It didn’t follow any of the “classic” styles of meditation. It was more of a visualization exercise than anything else. You pictured yourself tethered to the center of the earth so you couldn’t go leaving your body, you had a safety net, you were free to do your “work.” This consisted of basically picturing releasing all the stuff you didn’t need or want inside your head – like fears and doubts and anger, to simplify, energy that was *not* yuors. We also learned to visualize filling up that energy deficit with your own energy that we’d been flinging around with worrying and anger and fear etc.
    It’s a simple tool that lets you fit it to whatever your situation happens to be. When I had one of, maybe *the* darkest times of my life, I worked and worked and worked. I couldn’t focus on anything, but when I did my meditation work, it gradually helped me get back my focus. That and my cat. She, who could be a total nudge, bossy and demanding, willful as all get out, turned quiet and peaceful, good as she could be.
    I know things like that meditation tool don’t solve your problems, but if they can give you some distance and some peace of mind, then eventually you can cope, and you can solve them yourself.
    When you get more deeply into this kind of meditation, you really start digging and unearthing some of the things from way back that are responsible for your current fears, anger, doubts etc. 😉 It’s like a really good psychoanalyst, only free!
    Huh. I just looked the place up where I took that class. Sounds pretty wacky. I had no idea. So, they were pretty good about not proselytizing their meditation students, which is a good thing. Too heavy on all that, and I’d have run out the door. Good tool, though.

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  131. Make yourself get up and move – e.g., go for walks on a regular basis. Practice breathing exercises. Reread books or watch movies that are like comfort food to you. Yoga if that works for you. Mindless busy work can help. I like the suggestion re: brushing horses. Brushing dogs might help too. Plus their unconditional love is a wonderful thing. Private time is healthy but don’t isolate yourself from those that love you.

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  132. I don’t have any particular advice to offer, just best wishes, and to implore you NOT to let responding to the hundreds of comments on this post be another burden for you! Come back and snark at us when you’re ready, but please just take all of these well-wishes as a sign that there IS still good in the world.

    As for the politico-economic wretchedness, well, yes, but consider that terrible times offer an opportunity for human nature to really shine. I often reflect that the worst thing to happen to Christianity was making it legal – removing the necessity of courage in its practice. Adversity does not make all of us generous and kind (I tend to get whiny, myself), but it makes those examples of kindness the more grace-filled and luminous.

    Peace and joy to you!

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    1. “… the necessity of courage in its practice.”

      I like that. And I agree. When something becomes too easy, too common place, we forget why it’s important. That doesn’t just apply to religious practices but to pretty much everything. Things have more value to us when we have to work hard at it. When the necessity of effort is removed, then it becomes little more than a status symbol that no longer serves its true purpose.

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  133. I have to revise. After a very bad week, between Wednesday to Friday, I realised that I wallow a lot more than I thought I did. And so yesterday I went to a philosophy class and there they were talking about calming the mind. It helped to be there, the people are a lot of fun.

    Today I was still wallowing and *very* grumpy so I asked a friend to come over. Having done so, she listened and then proceeded to snap me out of my mood, logically, clearly and ruthlessly. She said I’d done it to her and she was going to do it for me. (I had, she was right on that) I swear, I have the best friends.

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  134. I’ve been a lurker here for quite some time but this is the first time I felt a need to respond. I don’t know what is causing your depression but I think I understand it. I’ve been through a very bad 2 years now and am just starting to feel a sense of control. My bad time started with the loss of my mother 2 years ago. It was followed a year later by the loss of 4 of my fur kids (cats) from various causes (cancer, old age, kidney failure) in a six month period, the sudden announcement from my husband of 20 years that he was miserable and wanted to leave our marriage to see if he would be any less miserable (his words, not mine), finding out from a complete stranger that my husband had a girl friend (her soon to be ex-husband, in fact) and then the loss of my father 4 months ago. I truly thought I could never be happy or feel any degree of happiness again.

    All of the suggestions mentioned above are good ones. I agree with the books/authors listed but if you want one that will truly make you laugh out loud I’d like to suggest Farley Mowat’s The Dog Who Wouldn’t Be. Just thinking about some of the scenes in it makes me want to laugh out loud again, even though today has not been one of my better days.

    I’d also like to suggest that instead of going to a regular doctor or “shrink”, you might want to visit an herbalist. I’ve taked classes from an herbalist who lives near me and at one of my worst times, I scheduled a visit with her. During the course of the past year, I visited her every couple of months and unfailingly, after each treatment I felt stronger and better able to cope with my life. I’m now at a point where I believe there is a light at the end of the tunnel even though it’s only a pin prick right now.

    I hope you get through the darkness soon.

    p.s. I have a gas oven but somehow or other, mostly because I felt my remaining cats needed me, I made it through unused, except for cooking.

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  135. Get out in nature. Don’t watch it from a window. Rest on Mother Nature’s bosom (those Romantic poets knew what they were talking about).

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  136. If someone has already mentioned Pinterest, I apologize. I just discovered it. You create a board and then search other peoples boards and re-pin whatever strikes your fancy. You can put a “pin it” button on your tool-bar and pin anything on the internet to your board instantly, as well. So far, I’ve re-pinned fabulous knitting projects, baths, homes, gardens, kisses, fairies, magic, shoes, swirly skirts, cartoons, book plates, the kitchen from Practical Magic and the bedroom from The Proposal, and so on. You just type an idea into the search box and see all the wonderful things hundreds of others people have already found. I actually found myself smiling from time to time, and that’s been rare lately. My board is called “beautiful door”. Because that’s where I started. For some reason, I typed that into the search box and didn’t come up for air for a very long time. It was good.

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  137. I’m a little concerned that we’re up to 250 comments, and you’re still having a bad day. Either that, or you’re sitting on a beach in Aruba, sipping on a drink in a coconut with umbrellas in it. I hope so.

    Anyway, at least we haven’t broken the blog…*ducks*

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  138. I’m technologically challenged. What does it mean to ‘break the blog’?

    To Jenny: Hope the sun is starting to come up for you.

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    1. Oh, we’ve messed up Argh Ink before when too many people nested comments — it wasn’t really designed for that, I guess. Comments would show up in completely weird and random places or not at all. Usually it gets “fixed” by Jenny starting a new post to continue the conversation. (I think it happened several times when people were picking movies for Popcorn Dialogues.)

      I might be speaking just for myself, but I think we’re all sort of proud of ourselves when we’re having such a good conversation that we break the blog. Though I also think that, after the last time, whatever caused it to happen got fixed for real.

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  139. From reading this blog, I suspect that you might need to give yourself permission to let go of some things. Did you read your horoscope this week? It seems to fit in with this post :

    “If I were you, I’d still try to sneak one more week on the sidelines. Don’t pull a trip on yourself, Virgo, about how you’re not getting nearly as much accomplished as you believe you should. Haven’t you yet figured out that every moment in time is not qualitatively equivalent to every other, and that, sometimes, attempting to operate at your so-called ‘normal’ levels of activity is like hunting for water by hitting a rock (or your head) against a wall? I promise you, by the tail-end of this year and into the beginning of ’12, you’ll be able to look back at times like this and laugh at how worried you were about a perception that ‘nothing’s happening in your life’. In the short-term, however, things should begin to turn to a detectably improved state of being as soon as next week, once (1) both the Sun and Venus have entered your sign, bestowing love and light and rosier-colored lens, and (2) Mercury wraps up this particularly wretched retrograde. Use this last sidelined week, then, to curl up in ball or loll around, licking yourself clean of the energetic scuzz left on you from your last chapter of anxiety or stress. A glass of wine or a cup of chamomile tea, depending on your preference, might help.”
    (source http://astrobarry.com/horoscopes.php)

    It will be ok. The stars have spoken, it will work out and get better.
    And if it isn’t ok, and the stars have some how gotten it wrong, we’ll still be here to support you.

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    1. Is astrobarry always this warm and fuzzy? I don’t really believe in “the stars guide our destinies” — I believe more that we pick out the things we need, and apply them to our lives, so it’s fun to get an astrologer who says stuff to me like “don’t pull a trip on yourself.” The one I visit from time to time is always telling me things like, “this isn’t a good day to power trip on people” which I should probably print in big letters and paste on my laptop cover, because when IS it a good day to power trip on people? Never, LOL. And yet, as a Virgo, I constantly feel a need to Organize the Universe, even though I know the Universe doesn’t really appreciate it.

      Anyway, I’ll have to check out astrobarry.

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  140. I’ve been thinking about this business of being thankful because we don’t have somebody else’s problems and I’m seeing a serious flaw in the philosophy. Like the adage about the guy complaining that he had no shoes until he met a guy who had no feet. Well, the first guy still didn’t have any shoes, and, having feet, he needed them; so why shouldn’t he feel a little sorry for himself? Somebody else’s problems might be different than ours, but why does that make ours less valid?

    So, Crusie, go ahead and have yourself a little pity party if you want to.

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  141. I’ve been thinking about this business of being thankful because we don’t have somebody else’s problems and I’m seeing a serious flaw in the philosophy.

    I always say that we don’t compare our happiness to other people’s, so why compare our misery. I mean, have you ever heard someone say, “I shouldn’t squee for happiness, because someone else has it better than I do”?

    That being said, I wonder if the impulse to be aware of worse problems isn’t rooted in exposure to some people who raise victimhood almost to art, whose small first-world problems become terrible catastrophes, suffering like no one else ever has in the whole of history.

    As for what I do when low has become sunk-in-an-abyss, I re-read a lot. I want to be taken out of my life, but I don’t want anything making any demands of me. I endure, until it passes. Because most of the time, it’s not really what’s going on that’s flattened me; it’s something else, some other factor, including sheer tiredness and dead emotional batteries. I treat myself with as much gentleness as possible and I give myself permission to jettison as many responsibilities as I possibly can.

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    1. I always feel guilty when I post about being depressed here because I have it pretty damn good. That doesn’t change the fact that I’m feeling trapped and awful, but it verges on entitled meeping.
      On the other hand, I had to say something about why I hadn’t been blogging and that was it.

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    2. Hah! It’s like this one day in grad school — it was fraught with possibilities for disaster, bunch of things I hate, fear, whatever to get throuogh…like playing vocal student for a friend who was taking a class in how to train singers, had to get up in front of the room and her prof and vocalize and sing art songs in German and Italian, as a soprano…but I was having allergy issues and was singing more like baritone…LOL! Lots of stuff like that to look forward to all day long, and my friend tells me, “Don’t worry, tomorrow it will all be behind you and today won’t seem so important.”
      !!!
      To which I responded, “Yes, but it’s still today, and TODAY is VERY IMPORTANT to me TODAY! ”
      Yes, I was yelling. Telling someone it will all be over soon, what is that supposed to accomplish? They still have to get through “it,” whatever it may be.
      Marie Antoinette sure had a nerve to be upset about that head chopping thing. I mean a second or two and it’s done! Get over it and move on!
      I hate those mealy mouthed platitudes.

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  142. I read about halfway down but didn’t make it through all the comments – you guys have some good coping strategies for some truly crappy days.

    I wanted to offer one of mine, if I can scrounge together the mental energy to put down my comfort read (Crusie, Sayers, Narnia, Harry Potter, etc) I make something.

    Not dinner for my kids- I do that, but it doesn’t count. I mean I make something extra- a beautiful pie, or a quick tote bag on my sewing machine, or a fast scarf on really chunky yarn and big needles. Something about the process and the gratification and the fact of CREATING when I feel like a hole in the world… it steadies things and gives me a hand hold to sort of climb up and peak over the top and think “Okay. It’s not always like this. and I’m on the right track. I MADE something.”

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  143. It’s good to count your blessings, but comparing my situation to other people’s has never really worked for me–I just wound up feeling guilty about feeling depressed. My therapist one told me, “Someone else’s cancer doesn’t make your broken leg hurt any less.” So meep if you need to; sometimes, you just gotta purge the funk.

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    1. You are absolutely right.
      I just feel that if I’m going to waste people’s time with this blog, it should provide something more than depressed meeping. Amusing meeping I’m okay with, but depressed meeping does nobody any good.

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      1. Yes, obviously we HATE it when you “waste” our time. That’s why we keep coming back.

        Yay for the improved outlook – I’m glad that Mercury is coming out of retrograde! Even if there is mold.

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  144. As a selfish reader, depressed meeping would get annoying if it were every post. But . . . it looks like a lot of us struggle with depression at times, so I see nothing wrong with a depressed post now and then (and it keeps us from imagining something worse . . . ).

    Also wanted to say something about the “comparative misery” theory. Maybe it helps sometimes. But . . . sometimes I feel so guilty and sad that there are people in the world who have it much, much worse. Not always helpful when the depression is spiraling downwards.

    The other alternative, to wallow a little bit, just seems so unproductive and I can’t allow myself to do it; I’m afraid I’d wallow deeper into the pits of despair. But . . . there’s testimony here that it works. Maybe next time, I’ll throw myself a little pity party and see how it goes.

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    1. I think it’s more of a “poor baby” thing. The old pull-your-socks-up-and-keep-going stuff is really good most of the time, but sometimes you just have to honor the fact that you’re in a bad place and comfort yourself. And then pull your socks up and keep going.

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  145. You know I try to poke fun at the crap that takes place and laugh it off, like getting a letter in the mail from my dr office detailing out my surgery and my body stats and having it read for my weight “Obesity – Unspecified”, and my husband being the first to see it…LOL, Stuff like that. But on the days it really is just one of them, “Oh hell, it’s not a good day” I try to keep my mouth shut, because you know it will either end up in me crying my eyes out, or pissing someone off…then hit the gym to let out the total frustration and chaos, and then finishing up the day with a glass of wine.

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  146. When I’m quite down the things that make me feel better are somehow the hardest things to do… yoga, bike rides, gentle stretching, meditation. Regular schedules, organized spaces, and always trying to end the day thinking of just one positive thing. All these things help enormously, but are so much easier to do when I’m in a better frame of mind. Best wishes to you!

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  147. Once, in the midst of a bout of depression I forced myself to start a daily log. The Cardinal Rule was that every day, for one year, I had to jot down JUST ONE GOOD THING, and at least one short sentence about that thing. Some days the entry was completely trivial, “I had a cup of coffee. The smell of the hot coffee is really good.” Other times, it was something so fundamental that I would normally never realize: “I passed a man in a wheelchair in the mall today. I WALKED by. I have legs that work.” Other times my one sentence wasn’t enough and I ended up writing/philosophizing/theologizing an entire page or two.

    After the year was over, I realized my depression had gradually lifted, and I only had to go back over that journal when I needed a boost. Somehow the exercise of forcing myself to see at least One Good Thing each day, helped change my focus overall. It was good for me – your mileage may differ. (grin)

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  148. i am way way way behind the 8 ball here. you’re moving to jersey? my god.

    but i must say that for those days, i pull out the quilt my mommy made me, the pot of hazelnut creme coffee and a stack of books. harry potter, john sandford, naomi novak. you. so, thanks for that. please never stop writing.

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