Feeling good when you're feeling bad
Sunday, January 7, 2018 :: Tagged under: personal essay culture. ⏰ 4 minutes.
Hey! Thanks for reading! Just a reminder that I wrote this some years ago, and may have much more complicated feelings about this topic than I did when I wrote it. Happy to elaborate, feel free to reach out to me! 😄
🎵 The song for this post is Motownphilly, by Boyz II Men 🎵
Arguably the most impactful thing I've written here (from conversations I've had) was when I opened up on depression a few years ago. It's hard work, but I'm doing a lot better!
I'll share a few thoughts and links on self-care in case anyone likes it.
Jace Harr uses Twine to create an interactive Q&A to help you take steps to feel better. I haven't played with all the branches, but the times I've used it I've always found it to be excellent.
I liked this set of approaches that Alex Vermeer shared. I especially appreciate the disclaimer stressing that he's arrived to those practices by increments. Don't worry about where the destination is, just try to see the next step.
Some practices of mine
(note that these aren't available or effective to everybody; it's a big world, and folks live in lots of different circumstances, I'm just sharing from my experiences 🙂)
Importance of agency
This is more of a "theme" than a process, but one of the most central things I've observed (and subsequently try to be mindful of) is how central agency is to one's happiness. Succinctly: what is happening isn't what's raising you up or bringing you down, it's whether or not you had a say in it. This isn't an original thought: I read Stumbling on Happiness in High School which is an excellent and accessible explanation to this.
So when I'm looking at why I'm struggling (or trying to model someone else's troubles), one of my starting places is "What about my situation do I feel is imposed on me, rather than how I would choose to make it?" Sometimes the answers to this can be terrifying, but it's almost always rewarding to ask (sometimes immediately, and sometimes it'll only manifest in the very, very, very long run. Still: best day to plant a tree was 20 years ago, second-best day is today).
Its helped me tremendously. That said, finding a therapist sucks. It's fucking terrible. On top of our shit healthcare system, non-transparent pricing, and delay in evaluating effectiveness, many therapists are simply terrible at their jobs. Please don't think I'm writing "consider therapy" believing this is something you can do lightly.
I wish I had advice here, but I really don't: I got introduced to mine via referral from someone working with my sister on her recovery. When I was closest to suicide and living in SF, I called ~30 offices struck out on all of them. Some of my friends have had success with Talkspace? Most health-insurance sites have a "find a physician" portal you can use as well.
In any case, therapists can be useful if they succeed at setting up a space for you to safely identify and work through what's blocking you. Be sure to screen early for whether your therapist is queer-friendly, poly-friendly, and/or kink-friendly if you feel it'd be useful to work with someone who's conversant with those issues. Therapists are just people, after all, and might hold many of the social or structural biases that are putting you in a place to look for a therapist in the first place.
This one was given to me by a boots-on-the-ground therapist I spoke to in 2012, HALT which stands for Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired. The thinking is, if you feel like shit, ask if any of those is working on you and if there's a way to address it.
Unplugging, log off
I don't know why I'm anxious. I just constantly stare at a device that beams nightmares into my eyes.— Brandon (@UNDEADTRESOR) June 12, 2016
Like I wrote in my Open Web post, most of how we consume internet is the information equivalent of only eating fast food. My contemporaries and I have spent the last decade perfecting how to make your life about looking at ads, and we've gotten damn good at it. We're not designing these experiences for your own good, we're doing it to make very rich investors richer.
So, unplugging is great. Recently, Animal Crossing has helped. Before AC I listened to Jazz or Bluegrass. Novels are great. Try to find that bit of art such that consumption can chill you out a bit.
You really won't miss them.
Turn off the email notification from your phone. It's supposed to be asynchronous. Check only once every few hours, when you're sitting in front of a computer.
Unsubscribe relentlessly. You don't need a service like Unroll.me, they'll sell your inbox data, just Ctrl-F 'Unsubscribe' or 'manage'.
I turned off Facebook, don't miss it. I'll visit the site most days anyways. If you have enough Twitter or Instagram activity, I'd do the same there too. In general, if you get a notification, ask yourself "is this something I want to keep hearing about?" and decide right then to turn it off, in-app.
Thanks for the read! Disagreed? Violent agreement!? Feel free to join my mailing list, drop me a line at , or leave a comment below! I'd love to hear from you 😄