Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Why Am I Cranky?: The Validating Quality of Awareness

"Tomorrow, I'm going to be less of a cranky-pants."

Lately I've been saying things like, "I've developed tools for dealing with the emotional aspects of chronic depression, so it's mostly a fatigue problem now."* I questioned whether I have the authority to make that statement since I just went through a major depression in March, but I'm damn proud of how I dealt with that, actually.

I've come to understand that struggle is not a disease to be cured; it's part of life. And that's made me a lot happier overall.

So here's what I'm gonna do: I'm having a bad day. I woke up cranky and haven't done anything, (except stock my Zulily cart and then empty it when I realized I don't want stuff). Instead of distracting myself further, I'm going to logic myself into a better mood.

The 'Why I'm Cranky' List:
Positivity's all well and good, but sometimes I need to make room for it by addressing the negative. The 'Why I'm Cranky' List is a great exercise to help me productively work through unpleasant feelings. (This is my example:)

1. Inflammation and Discomfort from the Common Cold:
Inflammation anywhere in the body can mess with neurotransmitters and make it difficult to regulate mood. (My psychiatrist in Seattle told me about that.) I can forgive myself for not being sunshine and smiles with a mucous army stationed in my lungs.
2. Isolation:
I haven't attended any of my social groups in a week because I've been sick. I know that forming and maintaining bonds is essential for health and happiness. When my cold symptoms are in check, making an effort to socialize could improve my mood.
3. Disneyland Last Week:
What goes up, must come down. I don't regret my day at Disneyland. I got to spend it with one of my best friends who lives in a different state, which is so, so, so valuable to me. But, it's possible the wave of adrenaline has crashed and now I must seek calmer waters.

Okay, I feel better. I feel validated. Understanding the legitimate reasons for my bad mood keeps me from catastrophizing, (like, "I'm losing my mind," or, "I'll never be happy"). I stop adding to the list when I feel better, and then I address the issues and move on.

Hang in there, kid. I'm off to cross-stitch a Fluttershy!

*Today's example is about working through a mild state of irritability. If you are experiencing a more-serious depression or anxiety and this doesn't help you, THAT'S OKAY. Something will. Don't give up trying.

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