Sunday, July 10, 2011

My Annoying Little Doom Cloud

Over the last few days, my brain chemistry's been especially bad.  There's a terrible feeling of despair hovering over me, like a curtain of doom, waiting to fall.  Of course, as usual, there's no reason for me to feel this way.  Oh, yes, there are the common reasons people my age feel bad--I'm getting older, people I care about are dying, my body is starting to fail--but those reasons exist every day. 

Yet I don't feel bad every day. Only sometimes do I focus on the sorrowful facts of life and ignore the joyful ones.  And at those times the real reason I feel bad is that my brain is depriving me of tranquility chemicals.  The lack of those chemicals causes my mind to go looking for the source of my bad feelings.  When I find it--the fact that I'm no longer young, for instance--I feel better because I now have a reason to feel bad.  I might try to fix it by eliminating what I deem to be the source of my despair, if it's possible.  If not, then I'll suffer not-too-silently, complaining to friends or family. Or I might try to block it out.

But no matter what I do in response--whether I fix it or complain about it or ignore it--chances are the bad feelings will be gone in a few days anyway when my brain chemistry changes for the better.

Being aware of that reality makes all the difference to me.  I feel terrible, but instead of looking to the world around me for a reason, I look within and realize it's just my brain chemistry doing a number on me--and that it will pass. 

Sometimes it helps to picture that dark cloud as something separate from me, like an annoying little brother following me around, pushing my buttons, cramping my style.  He wins if I let him get to me, so I try not to.  I sometimes have the urge to explain "him" to people: "Don't mind my little gloom cloud; he's always like this--a pain in the butt."

It also helps to do some scanning activities to make the feeling go away for short periods of time.  This technique is especially useful at work, where showing unwarranted emotions can be hazardous. (Can you think of a time when a coworker suddenly burst into tears for no discernible reason? Pretty strange, no?)  Fortunately, my work involves a lot of scanning, so throwing myself into such tasks automatically makes the day better.

Writing this blog is helpful in a number of ways.  I can put off the bad feelings, sort out my feelings about my dilemma, and share my insights with those who care to listen in, who might be helped with their own bad brain chemistry.

See you next time.

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