The Cranky Therapist
This morning I woke up cranky. No clear excuse. The day was gorgeous and everyone I love is healthy. Still I dragged myself out of bed. As I pulled on my running shoes I thought about bailing on the exercise. The mini-therapist in my head wagged her finger and told me that I would feel worse if I didn’t at least walk a mile. As much as I hated it I knew she was right. So I walked. Big f*#cking deal.
Yes, I was that cranky.
It is very hard to admit that I can have days like this, where I am just irritable, sad, feeling low, negative, tired and not worthless, exactly, but not worth-ful either.
I could not think of a damn thing to snap me out of it. What did that say about my therapeutic skills? Therapist heal thyself! Nope. Nothing. The dark mood felt like a fog, or a virus, systemic and without cure.
At breakfast I told my husband:
“I need you to tell me you think I am wonderful.”
Without hesitating he got up, gave me a bone-cracking hug and said, “You are wonderful!” Then, “What gives? You’ve been acting mopey for days now.” Add mopey to the list.
“I don’t know! If I still got my period I’d say I was PMS-ing!”
He laughed, which only made me more cranky. But the hug helped.
I took a shower. At least I could smell good while I sank into the mire.
When I got around to doing work-related stuff I imagined a sign on my forehead:
Warning: Woke up cranky. Do not expect much.
That’s probably the best thing I did for myself today, not expect much. While I didn’t push myself I didn’t completely slack off either. The exercise thing is an example. Right now I could be watching television but that would just feed the beast. Writing is better, finding a sympathetic friend or Twitter buddy to converse with, is better. I didn’t stress over finding the cause because, as I tell my patients, sometimes the Why is just a distraction, an excuse to wallow.
Slowly, as the day meandered, the fog began to lift. I realized I was deeply fortunate because despite the black mood I knew in my heart it would not last forever.
The Zen masters tell us to surf the wave of negativity, use the energy to move forward, rather than allow the wave to crush us. One thing (among many it turned out) that was good about today: It reminded me what depression can feel like for people who really are stuck in it, who are so deep in the pit there is no light coming in, how phenomenally hard it is to break free. That is good thing for a therapist to remember.