Nothing was quite as jarring as the first time I logged on to Facebook and saw my ex’s new lover playing with my kids.
It actually reminded me of that dumbfounded feeling I had right after my first car accident. You get out of the car and keep asking yourself if what happened really happened.
I kept looking at the photo the way you would keep looking at the wreckage of what used to be your $30,000 car that, in reality, you still owe 60 more payments on. The depth of the existential pain can be so profound that you can’t help ruminating and staying trapped in the hurt spiral.
Now I’m not new to the “snap out of it” game. I have read and studied the best of the best: Dr. Wayne Dyer, Tony Robbins, Brené Brown, and countless others. I have even written extensively on the many techniques one can employ to transcend unhelpful and destructive emotions and return to a path of high frequency—that place where all the beauty of life resides.
To be completely honest, none of it was working for me this week. As a matter of fact, I spent a majority of the week so deeply stuck in my own head that I found myself driving past exit ramps I should’ve been using and totally spacing out in important appointments.
Given that this week was so emotionally difficult, I was interested to see what would and would not propel me from the paralysis of what can best be described as mild depression. I think the solutions may surprise you:
Spend time with friends. I believe the temptation to call or text friends when we are faced with a situation is pretty great; however, I found that doing this made me feel more empty than when I was just keeping it to myself. Actually savoring the animal warmth of being in the same room as others made all the difference. There is something to the exchange of energy between yourself and the people you love that make even the worse scenarios seem bearable.
Help others. I knew intellectually that getting outside of myself to lend a hand to someone else was a good idea, but it wasn’t until I finally put this into action that I felt my inner turmoil begin to diminish. So whether you belong to a community center, a church, or a 12-step group, someone somewhere can use some help. I will be the first to admit that when we are wallowing in the muck, being a goody goody seems like a drag, but it just happens to be one of these counter intuitive miracles that work. So it’s worthwhile to suspend disbelief long enough to be of service and cheer yourself up in the process.
Get creative. Personally, I hammered out a cathartic song at my kitchen table and got myself to a recording studio to get it laid down. I imagine that it doesn’t really matter what your brand of creativity might be—photography, painting, writing poetry; it all helps as a healthy way to get outside of yourself and away from the pain for awhile.
Make your bed. Ok, I will admit that the first time I saw that book by William H. McRaven, I laughed at the corniness of the title. It seemed so trite for a military man to assume that the entire world’s problems can be solved by “a little order around here.” But my firsthand experience this week taught me that when I just rolled over and let the sadness own me—when I left for work with dirty dishes in the sink—I came home to the same state of mind in which I left. At the end of the week when I pushed against the overwhelming feeling of wanting to give up and I did, in fact, make my bed and wash the breakfast dishes, the order and cleanliness helped me begin to feel better. So, yes, it is good advice. Make your bed.
Give time time. This is so obvious and so effective. I was listening to a podcast on Saturday morning when I was driving out to pick up my kids and a short story was being read by David Sedaris. It was one of those stories where he just kept piling one hilarious observation on top of another until tears were streaming down my cheeks. It was then I realized that a number of days had gone by since my social media tragedy and I was beginning to feel enveloped by a sense of well-being and the realization that I was going to be okay. I always try to remind myself of this even in the thick of it. The pain does goes away.
So the next time you find yourself in that frustrating and sad space where it feels as though you may never be happy again, try these out. Like I said, I experimented first hand with quite a few ideas and techniques and these seemed to be the most effective. Remember, even when it doesn’t seem possible, invariably, this too shall pass.
Author: Billy Manas
Image: Toa Heftiba/Unsplash
Editor: Lieselle Davidson
Copy Editor: Nicole Cameron