Have you ever had a time where you could not shake your mood? No. Matter. What? I’ve had more than a few weeks like this. Tuesday, December 15, 2015, everything came to a standstill. Losing my temper, I recognized I needed to inhale. Exhale. Breathe.
On that date, I got up in a dreadful mood from so many nights without sleep. I counted the days until Christmas – only ten days away. No, this wasn’t the Christmas blues – just a time of physical exhaustion and stress triggered by the torrential storms we had in Charleston in October. Still, my home wasn’t well. The leaks from the skylights appeared to be growing with a science project of mold, mildew, and ugliness I wished to erase. I decided we should decorate our Christmas tree in the den this year, not the traditional place in the living room.
Negative thoughts ate away inside of me. My stomach was twisted in knots; at least, it felt like it. Christmas music helped a little, although I still had moments where I wanted to scream. Still, the moodiness left a bad taste, an emotional feeling of absolute depression, clouding every thought and mood. Looking at the calendar again, I realized December 19th would soon be here, only now, I could not celebrate my dad’s birthday with him. This year he and his identical twin brother would celebrate 101 years of life. I lost my dad on July 6, 1999. He lost his identical twin brother long before I was born, or even thought about. How I wish I could reach out to him – just to wish him a Happy Birthday.
This year I could not shake my mood. I jotted down things I should be happy about, and then I added an additional listing of things I wish I could change. “No wonder I’m so depressed. The things I wish I could change are longer than the happiness list. Not a good sign. Meanwhile, the phone rang, almost constantly – a nauseating ringing of telemarketers and scam phone calls that refused to leave me alone. I’m certain you’ve probably received your share of these calls. One call said ‘unavailable,’ another was ‘unknown caller,’ and another said ‘government.’ I listened to all of them, never speaking as a robot call said ‘this is your third and final call. You owe the IRS…’ I laughed. Just what is this? We are on the Do Not Call list. Honestly, I think when you sign up again [for perhaps the 10th time] with the Do Not Call list, there must be a way these companies are getting our phone numbers, just so they can aggravate us! Another caller was a guy. He expressed the following, “Congratulations…You’ve won!”
Okay, I’ll play his little game. I listened as he shared that we were the winners of a contest we recently signed up for. “News to me,” I breathed. “We haven’t signed up for anything except the Do Not Call list!”
“F$%# you,” he said. I hung up, daring him to call back.
Without a doubt, this was one of the worst days I’ve had in a long time. “I suppose this day is my pity party day,” I shouted to the walls inside my house.
My poor husband was greeted at the door by a woman almost half out of my mind. Grief. Sadness. Tears. All of the ingredients for a pity party.
Although I tried to shake this strange mood, I could not. Defeated, I took a leisurely bath, having a soft, quiet discussion with myself, recognizing I was behaving in the same manner of my mother. ‘This has to stop.’
After the bubble bath, I approached my husband again, only, this time, I apologized for being such a monster. “It’s so unlike me to be this way,” I cried. “I’m so worried about the house. I wish I could make all of this go away.”
Phil hugged me. I kissed him and went to bed. I prayed for God to listen to me. Much to my surprise, I whispered, “God, are you there? Do you hear me? Are you testing me? I need you.”
The next morning, my mood was better, although I failed to sleep well. After two cups of coffee, the phone rang. I checked caller ID. The caller was listed. It was a phone call from a church. That’s unusual. I answered it. The caller was a recording, mentioning scriptures from the Holy Bible. I suppose God is telling me something. I listened to the entire conversation, recognizing I’ve never had a phone call this — EVER! I suppose God was listening to me and now He is encouraging me to get a grip. Be the person you know you can be, not the person you lived with as a child.
A few minutes later, while praying, the phone rang again. My best friend was on the line. She was recovering from another kidney surgery. I asked how she was progressing. She was in route to work. Still weak and having a bit of pain, I listened to her while recognizing how selfish and insensitive I had been.
Why? Simple. All of the stress I’ve endured will ease when the house is finally repaired. I will be able to get myself out of this house and the stress. As for my friend, she was fighting to get well. To have healthy kidneys. She is my best friend. Every day I pray for her and for a miracle to happen in her life.
“How foolish I have been,” I said aloud after we hung up. “I can change my mood. I can do something pro-active to feed good thoughts, and I can move to get away from the stress, if only for a few hours.
My friend is fighting just to get stronger. She’s like the energizer bunny, always bouncing back.
As for me – I’ve been a fool. I have to remind myself of the old clichés I say to myself normally when depression kidnaps me.
“This too shall pass.”
“It’s when things seem worse, you mustn’t quit.”
“Life is like a box of chocolates…You never know what you’re gonna get.”
“Stupid is as stupid does.”
One of my favorite quotes is “Once you replace negative thoughts with positive ones, you’ll start having positive results.”
Yes, I knew better. I am a strong woman. Normally, I can talk myself out of these situations. I suppose today is an eye-opener to me. A day to be thankful I am still alive. A day to breathe in and breathe out. A day to give thanks. I still have a home. I have a warm bed to sleep in, even when the four dogs take over the bed, and I have a good man to live with me and to love me, even when the devil of depression kicks in wanting me to have another pity party. Little things. These amazing little moments that help keep me focused. Little moments when my personality shines as I smile at someone. Little moments when I greet a complete stranger.
I cannot walk in the shoes of my mother, [nor do I want to] and I must promise myself that next time – when the monsters of depression torment me, I must move and force myself to get dressed, to smile and to appreciate life’s precious moments.
I must get dressed every day, and not stay in pajamas — ALL DAY LONG!
These actions are not who I am. I must remind myself that I should take care of myself. I must appreciate life, with all of its blessings and with all of the tests that can easily defeat us. I will not be defeated. Today is a new day.
Next time, I plan to take a nice long walk on the beach, to remind me I am blessed! No doubt, the beauty of the ocean, the sand between my toes, the warmth of sunshine, and the Pelicans flying along the waters will bless me with reassurance that life is to be lived, every day — even when the gloominess of a pity party attempts to ruffle my feathers.