Gazing at the Sad Belly-Button
I haven’t been posting much original content anywhere, lately.
I had a brief spurt of creativity at the first of the month but it was mostly triggered by some character generation fixes with friends. I loved that. Those sort of moments make me think that maybe, just maybe, a writer’s group would be helpful.
And when I’m fairly mainline to positive, I know it would.
I’m not lately.
I’m not what I’d call seriously depressed (with a small d, denoting not diagnosed, not chronic), at this point. And I can pretty much pinpoint most of the reasons why I’m feeling down. There are triggery dates (when aren’t there triggery dates?). I feel bad about my body in general, but also; I feel as though I’m not doing well on my exercise plans, I feel as though I should be doing better on my food choices (although I wouldn’t say I’m doing horribly as we try to keep our eating out to a minimum), and I feel like my expectations for my body are too high. I feel stress related to work that is compounded by knowing the things I am stressing about are not things I can control. Sometimes, the drift down is definitely due to cyclical hormones and there’s not much that can be done about that for another decade or so (based on extremely limited family history).
A lot of the time, if you’ll notice (because I do), it’s me getting stuck in my own head and yammering for a way out. When there’s not a simple way out, I chase my own conversational tail in a very unhelpful way.
I have small things that I do to try to combat this. I’m doing one of them now. I’m writing something anyway, even though it’s an annoying self-update post, which isn’t really how I want to spend my time writing. I’d rather be writing something creative, or expressing an opinion about something going on in the world today.
I should go ahead and write on creative projects. I know that. But I’ve also convinced myself I will hate whatever dreck I manage to get on the screen, so why waste my time with that? I could write about things going on locally or on a larger world scale. I do have opinions. But most of them are succinct and news bite sized. I don’t really want to add to the weight of those on Twitter, Tumblr or any other social thread.
Instead, I’m doing more basic things. I’m trying to remind myself that even if I have to start over on exercise, it’s better than not exercising. Even if I have homemade nachos for dinner one night, it’s better than not eating anything, or having something like dessert only.
And I’m trying other less basic self-care things.
I reach out to friends to say hi and ask how they are. And I genuinely listen. I care about my friends, and everyone likes to be listened to if only for a little bit. And it sometimes takes my mind off stupid yammering petty frets in my head.
I make monthly massage appointments. I really love my massage therapist. She is a neat person, and she has a varied set of training that allows for different treatments depending on the appointment. Nothing hurt last night, so we just tried a cranial-sacral adjustment. (Basically, I lie very still and practice deep breathing while she works her hands up my spine and makes sure I’m all lined up nicely.) And then she massaged my neck and shoulders a bit. It sounds like a very boring massage, but I actually felt more mellow and calm (my brain was quiet!) than I have in a while.
I make a hair appointment about once every 5 weeks. It means that my hair gets tamed slightly as I grow it back out, and the color gets freshened up. Sometimes, if I have the extra money, I add in a fingernail or pedicure appointment. But I don’t always, because I’m already spending money.
Those last two things aren’t cheap. But I budget for them. They help.
I also look at friends’ art; sometimes it’s drawn, sometimes it’s written, and sometimes it’s photography. Sometimes, it influences me to actually draw something or write something. There’s a 5 minute study of a piece of driftwood with stones stacked on top and the hint of a frothy wave drifting up in my sketchbook right now that was influenced by a photo of a submerged branch my friend Ant shared on his Instagram. I even noted it on the page so I’d remember.
None of this fixes me feeling down and grouchy. But sometimes it takes the edge off enough that I can squeak by another day without biting too many people’s heads off, or hurting anyone’s feelings. And that’s good not just because I don’t want to be mean. When I’m mean, I feel instantly guilty afterward, and it just adds to the downward spiral. It’s better for ME to be nice, not just everyone in general.
And look. I’ve actually written quite a bit. Even if it is all boring belly-button gazing thoughts.