This blog post is a quasi-journal entry. If you’re feeling crap, down in the dumps, or wondering if what you’re doing is worth doing? Read on.
When you’re up, you’re up. It’s a mixture of invincibility, invulnerability, and mainlining cosmic caffeine. It’s nice being up there and one of the advantages of being 43 years old is that I can usually curtail my enthusiasm and not piss everyone off by getting on like a human superball especially in the morning. I do my best, but there’s usually some unsuspecting innocent on the end of a hug and an overflow of enthusiasm.
The downside is the downside of being up is a total fucker. When you’re up, you’re up, but when you’re down, it’s a hellish tinder date between doubt and self-loathing that conceives procrastination, sabotage, and self-destruction.
Different things trigger the dark trio for various reasons, but the results are the same for a lot of creatives. When we feel depressed, we put off work, rubbish work already done and go to great lengths to convince ourselves that we are shit, that no one wants to see anything we create, and we’d be better off finding a dark hole and staying there.
I get those days. I had it while I was writing this.
I hate these kinds of days. I’m outside myself watching me sloth around in a nightshirt or days old clothes not doing any work, hating myself for it and chipping away at my self-esteem. Even with the functional voice gently nudging me to take little steps to build a chain of small wins to feel better I’ll go to great lengths to stay down in the dark hole.
I’ll snack, game, snack, binge-watch box sets, snack, and a link another handful of procrastinating, sabotaging and self-destructive behaviours to replace the right things in life like sleeping, eating, family, creating, and exercise. These toxic cuckoos isolate you from the people who matter most and the things you love to do. It used to take me down for weeks, sometimes even months. Used to.
I’d hit my stride on a project, overthink how I got there and find some way to stumble and fall into the nearest cold, dark self-pitying hole and that’s no kind of life.
I learned to build safety nets of habits. Little things, easy things to sustain being up and help shorten the time I spend being in my grey, glum space. I make sure I get 7-8 hours sleep, I eat protein in the morning, sip plenty of water and generally look after my health. On bad days, I let everyone around me know that I’m not feeling great, that it’s me not them, I pick up a book, turn down the noise and ride it out without beating myself up.
And sometimes I beat the shit out of it by putting on something loud and saying fuck you to whatever chemical chaos makes me think I’m not worth the place I have on the earth.
It doesn’t always work, but I don’t stop looking for other things that will.