We all have them, and if we think about it, it’s rare that a day is 100% one or the other. Good days can have something bad and bad days can have something good. Last week I had one of each and several days that were just something in between leaning to the bad side. I thought I’d discuss with you how one can feel okay one moment and miserable the next and yet still keep on going because that’s what life’s about.
The bad day
From the very beginning of that day I had a hard time motivating myself to do anything. I kept thinking to myself “what’s the point”, “who cares whether I do anything or not?”, and “why should I care?”. While perfectly reasonable, these thoughts can quickly become extremely destructive and undermine any smidgen of self worth anyone may have.
Because of these negative thoughts I spent the entire morning trying and failing to get some work done. Any work. Reading, writing, studying, cleaning – anything. And I didn’t get a thing done. I simply just couldn’t see the point. I was completely overpowered by the “why-even-bother demon” who visits everyone from time to time and is probably a more frequent, albeit unwelcome, guest with those whose soul is temporarily broken.
In the afternoon it started raining and my mood got even darker. I kept reminiscing and was suddenly completely consumed by intense grief and a stabbing feeling of injustice and powerlessness. I lay down on my bed and convulsed in sobs for more than an hour. While I do have frequent spells of intense grief, this one was one of my worst breakdowns in a long while.
At dinnertime my appetite had all but disappeared and I only managed to eat very little. Exhausted in both mind and body I went to bed early and fell asleep. I woke several times that night from horrific nightmares and was awake from this unrestful night long before my alarm went off. A new day had started.
The good day
The next day started on a completely different note. Having woken up early, I managed to head to the library and snatch one of the good study desks, which is next to impossible if you arrive later than 8 am. I had brought my Korean and Japanese books and also planned on getting a lot of writing done. I don’t know what it is about the library’s study hall, but the intense atmosphere of learning and all the hard-working people sitting bent over thick volumes of whatever they’re studying inspires me beyond words. Before 10 am I had reviewed several chapters in my Japanese book, practiced writing kanjis and copied the article of the day in my notebook. I’m currently in the habit of copying a short news article from an easy online Japanese news site and then write down all the new words and kanjis on the opposite page. Depending on the length of the article, this takes around 30-60 minutes.
Feeling a tremendous sense of accomplishment, I headed downstairs to the library cafe and treated myself to a coffee and a double chocolate croissant. As the Koreans say: 소확행 – a small but certain happiness.
Back at my desk, I tackled my Korean study goal of the day which was a combination of studying with my book of news-based Korean and watching YTN news on Youtube. With that out of the way, I moved on to writing. I started by clearing my inbox, replied to a few comments on my blog and other social media and starting writing the outline for my next blog post. By lunch time I had almost accomplished all I had planned for the day.
At 2 pm, I had an appointment downtown and even though it was raining cats and dogs, I decided to walk the 30 minute distance while listening to the audiobook “The Happiness Project” by Gretchen Rubin. I enjoyed having the street to myself in the rain and even took a detour on my way home.
On days like these I can still feel sad momentarily but I’m not consumed by my sadness like I can be on so many other days. While they’re still more the exception than the rule, there are good days and I’m working hard on my physical and mental health to do what I can to keep them coming. Hopefully someday, they’ll outnumber the bad days.
I spent this weekend binge watching the new Netflix show “After Life” by Ricky Gervais. Brilliantly portraying grief and mental health by being anything but politically correct, this one hit close to home in so many ways. It breaks with countless taboos and never has any tv show made me laugh or cry so hard before. If you haven’t seen it yet – you owe it to yourself to give it a go. And beware of very explicit language. Here’s a trailer to get you hooked.