A Dying Whale

People are the worst.

Okay, I don’t really mean that. I love people. I really do. But some days (like today), it just really feels like people are the worst, everything hurts, and I’m dying.

everything hurts

I was just walking down the hallway at work (apparently looking dejected), and some young man (stranger danger!) called out to me in an overly perky voice: “Cheer up! Life ain’t so bad!”

April Ludgate bonding

Do I know you? No.

Was I talking to you? No.

Do you know anything that’s going on in my life? No.

Do you actually know that anything is wrong? Do you know that this isn’t just how my face looks?!?! The answer is still NO!

Grumpy Cat No

I just moaned at him. Like a dying person. Or a whale. Or a dying whale.

It was a beautiful sound. And although I didn’t win any Academy Awards for it, at least I didn’t make any new friendships.

April-ludgate

Authentically Aurora

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The Power of Positivity

Chris BdayThis year on my birthday, I woke up in a great mood. I’m pretty sure I said out loud to myself in a quirky voice, “It’s my BIRTHDAY!” And I might possibly have said it again multiple times throughout the day. To myself. In the mirror. With a big, goofy grin.

I was blessed to grow up in a family where birthdays were a day of being celebrated; of loved ones letting me know just how much I was loved. So, for me, “It’s my BIRTHDAY!” was a constant reminder that this particular day was a day where I was loved, cherished and celebrated by the people in my life who matter most.

And that statement I spoke over myself, with all the emotions accompanying it, made my birthday a pretty fantastic day. Even though I had to work, got stuck in traffic, made last-minute lunch plans so I didn’t eat alone on my birthday, found out Bryan forgot it was my birthday, etc… I had a great day because I had already decided it was intrinsically a great day, just by nature of it being my birthday.

I think there was a lot of power in my mindset on my birthday this year. It pains me to say it, because obnoxiously positive people make me want to punch them in the face simply because of the toxicity of their sunny dispositions, but I would love to figure out how to convince myself every day that it is a great day.

It would probably help if every other day out of the year, I was getting flowers at work and chocolates in the mail. It would probably also help if the inherent fabric of my being was not so akin to April Ludgate.

April 3

April 1

April 2

But seriously. What phrases could I substitute for, “It’s my BIRTHDAY!”? What statements could I speak over myself every day?

Maybe… There is a plan for today. This day was written before time began (even the awful parts).

Or… Today, I am loved and celebrated (even if no one sends me chocolate).

Or perhaps… There are good works prepared beforehand for me to live out today (hopefully I don’t fail).

I’ll work on getting rid of the subtext. Baby steps.

Authentically Aurora

Stuff it, Team Happy

April LudgateI wrestle with depression. Not only does this dysfunctional brain chemistry run in my family, but life has handed me some tough rounds over the past few years.

Notice that I chose the words “I wrestle with depression” and not “I suffer from depression.” I am struggling against it. I think being depressed is about as fun as being force-fed horse droppings while hanging upside down in freezing rain. I don’t want to be this way. I am not choosing to sit idly by while depression devours my joy. So I’d appreciate it if Team Happy would cut me some slack.

Some individuals are better equipped than others to sit with people in their sadness. If I open up to someone and their first response is any variation of “There are people much worse off than you,” I am immediately clued in to the fact that they are not emotionally equipped to understand depression. They might be someday, once they have experienced some traumatic loss of their own, but when I’m struggling to maintain an even keel of my own emotions, I don’t also have the emotional energy to help others learn how to deal with me.

Depression can bring with it a component of feeling trapped in your own head and at war with yourself, which can be perceived as a form of self-centeredness, causing the uninitiated to the Dark Night of the Soul to respond with comments like, “Why don’t you just fix your attitude?” Yes, I’ll get right on that. Go-go-gadget-attitude-fixer! What? I’m still depressed? Darn!

I have been accused of being overly self-oriented, but this trite response to my emotional seclusion belittles feelings that I do not know how to control or manage. Comments like this make me feel badly about feeling badly. So stuff it, Team Happy. I already feel badly about feeling badly without your condescension.

Often when people are uncomfortable, they throw out platitudes like, “Just stay positive!” (with the implied accusation that I am failing miserably at something that comes naturally to them). It always amazes me when Team Happy tells me, as if it had never occurred to me before, to “Just smile!” Platitudes don’t cure depression. They trivialize depression.

Here are my Top 10 Favorite (least favorite) Platitudes for all my fellow depressed homies out there:

  1. Fix your attitude.
  2. Happiness is a choice.
  3. It’s all in your head. You’re as happy as you make up your mind to be.
  4. Pull yourself up by your bootstraps.
  5. Stop feeling sorry for yourself.
  6. I think you want to feel this way.
  7. Cheer up! It’s a beautiful day! Go out and have some fun!
  8. When you’re down on yourself, you’re not much fun to be around.
  9. You have so many things to be thankful for. Why are you depressed?
  10. You can make the choice for or against depression; it’s all in your hands.

Here’s to making the choice not to strangle the next person who tells me to make the choice to be happy.

Authentically Aurora