What If I Want To Be Sad?

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*Trigger Warning*
This post deals with depression and negative self-talk, and may be triggering for some readers.

Hi there, I hope you’re doing well! Are you taking care of yourself? Maybe it’s time to do a check-in. How’s your body feeling? How’s your mind feeling? Don’t be afraid to give yourself some grace. ❤

My mental health took a dip recently.

It happens.

More often than I’d like.

Sometimes I feel kinda up and down. I’m doing fine, then something switches and the tide pulls me under.

I thought I’d share some feelings I was marinating on while trying to get out of my funk.

I was talking with my therapist recently (if you don’t have one and you are struggling with your mood, please find one, they can be really helpful). She was checking my negativity.

She’s very sneaky about it. She watches me spiral, lets me get it all out, then says “Was there anything good about it?” or something of that nature.

It kinda makes me stop and think.

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Yes there were negatives.

We’re not going to ignore any feelings here.

But if we’re going to spend so much time thinking about the bad, let’s not forget the good.

So my recent mood swing… I’m going to be honest, sometimes I’m not sure why my mood dips.

But it did, and I found myself coming up with all the reasons my life sucks.

Hardship in my relationships with friends and family.
Work has been rough.
Writing is not going super great right now.
My mental health seems to keep getting kicked down, despite my best efforts to even out.

Then I really start spiraling.

I feel discouraged.
I feel alone.
I’m not good at anything.
I just suck.

It can be so easy to get trapped in the negativity spiral. It’s like the thoughts have a mind of their own.

One minute I’m recounting things that happened, that are in fact negative… Then next thing I know, I hate myself and my life is awful.

It can get out of control really quickly.

So how do you fix it?

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I think the hardest part is recognizing what you’re doing.

You have to take a good, long look at yourself and say, “Is all of this really that bad, or am I in a negative spiral?”

I’m not saying things in your life aren’t bad.

We all have stuff we have to deal with.

Stuff we wish we could just drop and leave behind us.

But that’s not how life works.

So what I’m asking you to do is use Radical Acceptance like I talked about in this post, then ask yourself: “Is everything truly awful, or am I letting the negativity take over?”

Say you have an arguement with your partner.

Arguments/disagreements/fights (whatever you call them) suck, but they happen in every healthy relationship.

You’re human. It’s not possible for two imperfect people to perfectly agree on everything all the time.

So you have this argument, and instead of leaving it where it is, you begin to spiral.

We had an argument.
My relationship is awful.
I’m not a good partner.
They don’t like me.
I’m a burden.
I don’t like me.

But instead of letting the spiral continue, you take a pause.

You use Radical Acceptance.

You say, “We had an argument. That sucks. I feel sad.”

Then you stop the spiral before it takes root.

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The ugly thing about thoughts is that if you say them enough in your head, you start to believe them.

So if you spiral and reach the self-doubt stage, those words you say to yourself are words that take root in your heart.

I’m a burden.
No one likes me.
I don’t like me.

At first they’re just words, but if you keep saying them enough, they will become your reality. You will honestly believe that you are a burden, no one likes you. And you will actually begin to not like yourself.

Don’t go there.

Because you are not a burden. You are worth the effort.

People do like you. You have friends. Family. That partner you just had an argument with. They stick around because they like you, not because you have somehow tricked them into it.

Not liking yourself can be a real feeling that is so hard to pull yourself out of. You run down that hill without a care in the world, but the trek back is quite the climb.

So don’t go there. And if you are there, go look in the mirror and say nice things to yourself. It sounds stupid, but like I said, the more you say something, the more you believe it.

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Before you go any further down the negative spiral, take a breath. Say to yourself, “You are spiraling. You need to stop before this goes any further.”

Am I asking you not to feel your feelings? No. Not at all.

Your feelings are real and valid. But these thoughts are cropping up because of your feelings, and they are not always true.

Negativity leads to more negativity, so you have to stop before you go too far.

If you continue down the negative spiral in the name of “Feeling your feelings” you’re fooling yourself. This is not helpful. You are punishing yourself by piling on more and more ugly thoughts.

So take a breath. Pause. Say “no” to the ugly thoughts. Do not allow any more to pass through your mind.

So now you’ve stopped the spiral. Yay You!

But there’s still a little ways to go.

Don’t worry, you’ve already finished the hard part.

But it can be easy to slip back into the negativity, so you have to run in the opposite direction.

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It’s called Opposite Action. You can learn about it in the Dialectical Behavioral Therapy Skills Workbook. You should check it out if you’re needing help overcoming overwhelming emotions, or just looking for self-betterment.

You feel pulled toward these negative thoughts, so instead you should seek out positive thoughts.

Let’s start with some opposites to the ugly thoughts that cropped up before.

We did have an argument, but that’s normal in a healthy relationship, and we’re stronger than this fight.
My relationship has more good days than bad.
I am a good partner.
My partner cares about me.
I’m worth time and effort.
I love myself.

Then take it a little further.

What are some redeemable qualities about the relationship?
What is something good that happened recently?
What is something you love about yourself?
What is something you love about your life?
Name 2 things that bring you joy.
Name 3 things you have done that make you proud.

These are just examples, and I encourage you to find whatever works for you.

Just like negative attracts more negative, positive will attract more positive.

Feel your feelings, but don’t let yourself spiral.

You can still acknowledge that something sucked and you’re sad without going down that ugly road.

You’re worth the effort, so don’t let yourself go there.

I know the sadness can be intoxicating sometimes.

Like you’re so angry with yourself that you deserve to feel this pain. So you list all the reasons why.

But you don’t deserve it. There is a child inside you who lacked something growing up, but didn’t have the capacity to fill that void.

You’re grown up now, but you still have to raise that child inside you.

If a 6 year old was sitting next to you, saying all these ugly things, you would stop them. You would tell them how wonderful they are and that things will be brighter soon.

Maybe you should use some of that kindness for yourself too.

Sending love,

MK

When Linux is feeling down, he avoids the negativity spiral by thinking about fetch.
And treats. Lots of treats.

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