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Morning, Sunshine, How’s the SAD?

If this is comedy, then comedy had a bad dinner. Very grumpy, for comedy, is all I am saying.

The title of this blog is a tweet from Julie. My answer?

“Mighty. Bloated. Smug. Demands potatoes. Me & yoga & my invincible pretendo-gland have plans to kick its butt.”

OH YEAH WE DO. Starting Monday.

So basically, my attack plan is fake it ‘til you make it, predicated on the theory that if you behave as if you are super happy and great, and you behave this way VIGOROUSLY and with WILLFUL INTENT, you will actually BECOME super happy and great.

This DOES NOT mean pretend. Behave is different from pretend. Pretend is when you weep for days in the fetal position in the bottom of the closet and when absolutely forced out because the very last pack of Top Ramen is gone, you plaster a big GRIN on.

People say “Hiyas, how are ya?”

You answer, “I AM SO HAPPY AND GREAT I JUST WANT TO EXPLODE INTO FLINDERS. DELIGHTED FLINDERS. DELIGHTED-Y RED MASCERATED FLESH FLINDERS THAT WE CAN THEN BURN UP IN A FIRE AND RELEASE LIKE DUST IN THE WIND BECAUSE ALL WE ARE IS DUST IN THE WIIIIIiiIIIIND” *degenerates into helpless sobbing *

And then THEY say “That was rhetorical…”

And YOU say “OH, WELL THEN, I MEAN I AM HAPPY AND SO GREAT! HOW ARE YOU?”

No thank you. This isn’t about lying or faking things. It’s not about having the proper facial expression and telling your support system they can stand down because you are just so super. It’s about choices.

THIS is commitment.

I am going to commit, vehemently, with Dustin Hoffman method-actor “yes I did live in a crawl space and eat only hamster bedding for 9 days to prepare for my role as a termite” level dedication, to doing ALL THE THINGS I do when I am happy, with the thought that then Mr. Body Chemistry (never a deep thinker, that one) will be tricked into thinking I AM happy and releasing the right cheerful whatnots into my bloodstream, so that I will be bio-chemically surprised by the abatement of The Big Tiresome Sad I Am Already Bored Of Having. (TBTSIALBOH)

Think of it as….Muscle memory for the soul. And you know what? I have STRONG and well established happy muscles. I have been using them quite regularly for YEARS now.

Also, I have tried this method before on other problems, and it produced good results. It works. (And here I had to physically restrain myself from saying “if you work it.” But I did. You should give me a cookie.)

Here is how I could blow it…. I worry this could tip over into a SELF IMPROVEMENT SCHEME. I started making my list of behaviors and immediately got sucked into this VORTEX of Five Full Plates-ian Mindset, IMPROVE!
IMPROVE! Results oriented thinking, and that, I know, fails me the second it doesn’t yield results.

This is not like New Years resolutions. I have NO intention of becoming a better human being AT ALL. So I am going to make my list very SHORT and to the point. Here are the things I ALWAYS DO when I am feeling very happy.

I LOVE IT HERE IN THIS BLUE HOLE

1) Pray and take a Bible study. When I get sad and angry I stop breathing in God and just, you know, inhale. Which is SO counterintuitive. So. I will pray every day. And not the angry nibbles and snippets I am calling over one shoulder as I dash past God on my way to moping. Real prayer.

2) Eat fresh fruit and leafy green veggies. When I am happy, they taste good. When I am SAD, I like only potatoes. I will try for 5 servings a day, every day, and I will eat three if it kills me. I am NOT on a diet. I am not trying to IMPROVE. I just will make sure I eat these things.

3) Don’t eat junk food. With the exception of a BAD sweets problem, I eat beautifully when I am happy. I’m pretty organic and salmon-y and grilled-y. I don’t eat fried crap and bagged nuclear orange chips and I NEVER eat fast food. I just do not. SO I will not.

4) SAY YES TO MY FRIENDS. Do not find an excuse to not go to lunch or dinner or on a walk. Leave the house. Put on lip gloss and REAL pants. Of course, as I type this I just said no to going to a moivie a I REALLY want to see with two women from church that I REALLY REALLY like. But, I have a cold. AND I AM STARTING MONDAY. Heh.

5) Date my husband. Happy me LOVES to ditch the kids and see grown-up movies (this is a very different thing from ADULT movies, let’s be clear here!), have dinner, have conversation, have kissing.

6) BLOG. I blog a lot when I am happy because everything seems to INTERESTING to me. In order to blog, I have to look at the world in a kinda giddy interested absurdity-hungry FTK way—like keep my nose sniffing the wind for delightful or amusingly irksome things I simply HAVE to TELL you. In SAD TOWN, I keep my head down. I didn’t realize how head down I had been until I read A NON PG-13 blog entry about this monkey and thought, “The way you have been recently, you would have walked right PAST that perfectly awful monkey, your eyes skidding over it, missing the beautiful potential for EVIL…and BLOG.” And yet that Monkey is a clear gift from the Bloggods.

You will notice exercise is not on this list; well, I exercise no matter what. Like, I am so addicted, I do not stop when I am sad. Right now I am doing Hot Yoga 2 – 4 times a week (I try for 3) and riding my elliptical 3 times a week and going on a 4 mile hike once a week.

You will notice write the book is not on this list; well, I write the book no matter what. I am so addicted, I do not stop when I am sad. Right now I am going to my new office 3 days a week and DRAFTING, and spending my home work hours honing the drafts. My new office is in the COOLEST coffee shop, in a little corner side room, and if anyone else ever sits in it I violently hate them with invisible hate rays until they leave. Most times though I arrive when the place opens and SCUTTLE IN to claim it whiel the baristais still blinking sleepily and grinding the beans.

Anyway. That’s the whole plan. I start Monday. For today, I am avoiding fruit and saying no to fun. Hmf.

25 comments to Morning, Sunshine, How’s the SAD?

  • Em

    I look forward to #6! When I try #1 while I am already feeling bad, I start to feel bad AND guilty and hell bound. But I think I do it wrong.

  • Like all the best plans, it is simple. And it starts in the right place – if God is for us, who can be against us? And God is always for His children. There really is a great deal to be said for behaving the way you want to be.

    I adore the Van Gogh-y room – is that really your new “office”?

    My own big black is at bay, having been replaced by deep muscle and mental exhaustion that can only come to a fifty year old, out of shape woman attempting to pack up twenty years’ worth of possessions in order to move into the first place she has ever owned. The tired, it doesn’t leave room for anything else.

  • That light bulb makes it look like a starry is leaking.

  • liz

    I will plan ahead and bring chocolate for next weekend, just in case.

  • I am late to your SAD party, so I am just catching you as you are gathering your feet under you and launching a grand plan to tackle this bad boy. Just one thing that you mentioned early on — about being chronically iron deficient. ME TOO — HIGH FIVE!! I hope part of your “back on my feet” plan includes taking iron supplements. That obviously won’t cure all, but they make a HUGE difference in my energy level, therefore in my productivity level, etc. As far as reactions, etc…. Slow Fe is VERY mild on the stomach, etc. Something to consider. And… on with the PLAN!

  • Myra

    Was just thinking about you and hoping your SAD was on it’s way out the door. Wasn’t really expecting a blog; was just going to leave a concerned comment. Then that little but about praying got to me. I pray desperately, and though “not the angry nibbles and snippets I am calling over one shoulder as I dash past God on my way to moping” (so beautifully, painfully put it sent arrows to my heart), it doesn’t seem like real prayer because of the desperate situations either I or my loved ones seem to find myself/themselves in. If I could pray one joyful noise every day, I could find some peace. So I intend to find me a joyful noise until the desperation has passed. Beginning Monday.

  • That monkey is scary. Just sayin’. I think your plan sounds awesome,and I intend to adopt parts of it just because they sound so wholesome.

  • AND, AND, AND THIS post is part FOUR in your series. You may have silenced the Pink Socks forever!!!!!

  • Jessica

    Oh my goodness! #1?! Yes! That’s me!

    So I am getting ready to start Beth Moore’s “Living Beyond Yourself” study (about the Fruit of the Spirit: http://www.lifeway.com/lby/lby_enter_study.asp). I feel like my Spirit tree is not bearing the fruit it should. It has those withered figs that Jesus cursed, and I really, really need full fruitiness. I mean, what’s not to like about love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control? Apparently if you are my brain, everything! But if you are my heart, you realize this isn’t right. You need to breathe God, Jessica, and quit inhaling whatever leftover fumes are out there in the world.

    I am so glad you worded it that way. I need to quit “just” inhaling and breathe God. (This will be my new mantra as I go along each day. Thanks, Joss.)

  • Niki

    Sneakily (where we understand sneakily means under the blinky-yed noses of the barristas) move the other two chairs out, then sit in the middle. ;}

  • What you’re doing (behaving the way you want to feel in order to change the way you DO feel) is a big part of cognitive behavioral therapy. When I was sunk in depression, my aunt-the-therapist suggested I get the book “Feeling Good” by David Burns. I couldn’t afford to spend any money at that time, but a week or two later I saw it at a rummage sale (freaky moment!). It was thick and sometimes challenging, and I admit I didn’t give it the time I should have, but I tried to apply the concepts and I believe it helped. It’s worth checking out.

  • Dear Kettle,
    You may also want to TRY to get some sleep.
    Love, Pot

  • That was so nice of LoryKC to let YOU be the Kettle. I have a friend who lets me be the Kettle, because I think the “K” is so much prettier than the “P.”

  • That blue hole is UHMAZING. And I also love Beth Moore BIble studies. Just sayin’.

  • Michelle-who-is-Shelley

    This is a GREAT plan. First and foremost because you are basing the plan on what you know has worked for you before. What works for someone else is not going to work for you. Just like your plan is not going to work for me. After 19 years of dealing with the OCD monster I have learned that there is no “silver bullet” in either meds or cognitive behavioral therapy — as in, “take/do this and you will feel better”. And cognitive behavioral therapy is essentially what you are doing. Our brains are the only parts of us where we can actually change the biological makeup with behavior patterns. Right now your synapses are firing along a certain path and that path has become a RUT that your brain is unhappily following along as your brain works b/c it is the path of least resistance. But if you BEHAVE differently, repeatedly, you will make a new path, and then through repeated behavior WEAR THAT PATH down so that your thoughts go happy-tripping along the path to the happy you instead of the sad you. I wish you endurance and strong mental legs as you prepare to beat the new path tomorrow!!

  • Hi – just surfed over from Chantel’s link on FB. Saw this post and did it ever ‘speak’ to me and how. Stuggling right now with a disconnect-thing, more than the outright SAD – but I know enough to know that one-feeds-the-budding-other so great reminder to counteract that with healthful behaviors. “Fake it til you Make It” is one of my fave expressions, though i get why you take issue with it. I also love “you become what you pretend to be” and it’s corallary ‘you attract what you pretend you are’.

    And – an interesting tidbit for anyone fighting the SAD. I read an article in TIME last year that sumarized the findings of a European study which chronicled the affects of body posture on emotion. It found that if you stood in a ‘power position,’ you felt more powerful. If you held a pencil sideways in your mouth (like a bit) it ‘felt’ like smiling after and respondents reported feeling better afterwards. These are the only two examples I remember, but the link to ‘body memory’ and ’emotional memory’ is, I believe, strong and should be used. (she says, going back to staring out the window…)

  • Aimee

    I think this is a VERY EXCELLENT plan. I bet it will work. I may try it myself. I think I WILL.

  • Beth

    When I do this (um, every year since I was 25, which makes several of them now, heh), I call it a prescription. Because the first time I needed to feel better (not talking about serious depression here, which I think is different than the SAD), I got all kinds of allergy prescriptions which helped but didn’t make me feel better. My prescription to myself is yoga, running, writing, NOT avoiding women friends (WHY? WHY DO WE DO THIS THING? It makes NO SENSE!), and generally as Anne Lamott says, “treating myself like a beloved, slightly crazy, relative.” I wish you the best. Fall is tough for those of us who get the SAD, I think.

  • Is that Van Gogh-ish picture taken in your coffee shop? <3

    Well it's Monday, 8:58 AM. I'm checking in to see if you're happy yet.

    But seriously, you have a good plan, and if you're anything like me, you've already pulled out of the deepest funk by the time you're remembering what once made you zestful.

  • I am adding a star and a LIKE to this post in my reader and coming out of lurkdom to tell you about it because boy oh boy do these sound like reminders I could use. I’ve already begun to slip into the SAD (living in Wisconsin this really hits early for me) and the “No” has begun and the potatoes have begun (noodles for me) and I might even print and hang on five or ten walls this prescription for SAD avoidance.

    Bless you. Hope your Plan with a capital P works for all of us. With whatever modifications we need.

  • Kacie

    So it’s Monday. How’s the plan working out?

  • JMixx

    Ooh, another thought just occurred to me. It may be just “the latest fad,” but when was the last time you had your Vitamin D levels checked? Despite “Vitamin D Milk” being about the only kind you can buy, apparently D deficiency is much more common these days, what with everyone being so careful about sun exposure and wearing sunblock and all. Sunblock apparently prevents the body from making D. And the symptoms of deficiency in an adult (kids get rickets) are a lot like the symptoms of depression. My doc recently put me on a weekly ginormous supplement (the pill isn’t big, but the units of D are!) to combat deficiency. Groundwork, groundwork! Sleep, exercise, nutrition! Gets the tide flowing your direction, and makes it so much easier to swim out of the Deep Blue.

  • Beth R

    I’m currently in the clutches of the “big SAD” and it wasn’t until a couple of folks here mentioned Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) that I realized that could be playing a part as well. I’ve been making the same assumption for Joss; that it’s the “big SAD” that’s hitting her.

  • Joshilyn,

    Thank you for sharing this. I’ve been reflecting on similar things as I am turning 20 next month. I just graduated from college and find myself in a bit of a slump (the job market not being that great). I’m not good at taking care of myself sometimes. I’ve worked so hard on the mental and emotional … sometimes I forget to feed my spirit by spending time with God, being creative … I also forget my body. However, I am more happy and motivated when I remember to nourish the whole. Anyway, I needed this today. Best wishes on keep these promises to yourself and your HAPPY.

  • Oop, I meant 30. I’m turning. 30. 🙂