I had a bad day this week. My back hurt a little. My head was a bit clogged. The weather was changing. Whatever. While none of those things were the sole reason for my mood, they all probably played some small role.
I’m not exactly sure why I had a bad day. To be frank, I could blame it on everything and nothing all at once. It was a collection of thoughts, memories, and emotions that, when said out loud, don’t sound all that relevant or even make sense. I can honestly say that basically, I was just sad for no reason.
I’m not talking about dealing with life issues. Stresses and frustrations that cause you grief are common. I’m talking about those feelings of sadness that don’t make sense when you vocalize them. Someone asks you what’s wrong and you can’t do anything but shrug. The things swirling around your head don’t fit into the conventional mold of items that should be bringing you down. All you can do is feel it.
This isn’t a new thing and, while life as an adult has given me fewer things to really be down about, those down days still exist as they did when I was younger. They smack you across the face out of nowhere and suddenly something as innocuous as misplaced car keys can push me down a spiral emotional staircase for the entire day. The dominoes in my mind start to topple and now, if someone asks, I’m just “not doing too great”.
We’re not supposed to talk about these moments. We’re supposed to pretend they don’t happen and hide them behind our shiny social media accounts. Even now, as I write this, a part of me is thinking, “Why are you writing this? Everyone is going to think there’s something wrong with you!”
I used to think that for the longest time. As a kid, I’d get dressed and go into school and see everyone smiling. To a third grader, the only possibility is that everyone else is happy 100% of the time and I was the odd one. Maybe I had more reasons to be sad sometimes than they did. Maybe I didn’t. Either way, I thought that the sad days or down feelings I had outside the classroom were unlike anything else anyone experienced. I was sure of it and I told myself that.
As an adult who has met and spoken to many more people than that eight-year-old, I can honestly say today that they’re not. I’m not the only person who deals with some darker times in my head. I’d even venture to say that everyone does at some time or another. This isn’t a they do/they don’t thing. It’s a matter of degrees.
Sometimes we keep quiet because there are always people who use their own reasons of sadness to make you feel bad about yours. They battle you for pitiful dominance. Tell someone you’re sad because of whatever and they’ll yell at you that you’re lucky to even have a whatever because they didn’t. In the end, though, none of that matters. The game of Who’s Got A Sadder Story plays no role in the feelings that each of us experiences. I can’t experience your life. I can only experience mine.
One person’s woeful situation doesn’t make anyone else’s feelings invalid. You can always find someone with a story more miserable than someone else’s. You can play that game repeatedly until you eventually find the most miserable person on Earth. That person wins. That person also probably doesn’t have Internet so they’re not even playing. Makes the misery game seem kind of pointless.
I feel down at times and, luckily, my sad days have never multiplied to the point where I would see them as a real problem. If that ever happened, though, I would look for help and want to live on a planet where that type of self-maintenance is applauded rather than gossiped about. In a world where we all fight about how much or how little we should give each other, the least we can offer is support.
There’s a reason I don’t sugarcoat times in my life that I’m not proud of. I don’t pretend that I accepted my son’s Autism the moment I heard it and I don’t tell false stories about never making mistakes when I was younger. The reason why is that it’s not true for me and that means it’s probably not true for someone else. If we all speak more openly about the parts of us that we fear others might judge us for, maybe we’d judge each other less. I spent a long time pretending to be perfect to other people while simultaneously believing that I was the only person who wasn’t.
All of this, though, is healthy. Sure, I get dragged back to places in my mind I’d rather not be and I drum up past mistakes, vulnerability, and heart wrenching moments. That’s part of what keeps me improving. Regardless, though, I try to remember that, for me at least, these days are not permanent. It’s true when they say that it can’t rain all the time, but the sun can’t shine all the time either, though. Everything would dry up and die if it did. You need a dreary storm every now and then to remind you how much you like the good weather.
Maybe you have days like mine. Maybe you have weeks or months. Maybe it’s much longer. No matter the length of time, you’re not alone. We constantly talk about all the things that make us different but keep silent on the things that make us the same. We should talk about those things more. We could all use the support.