Yesterday I had a bad day.
Getting out of bed was challenging. I felt gloomy, dejected and disheartened. I re-scheduled my appointments and spent ½ the day in my pajamas mindlessly playing games on the computer. Then I did something I always encourage others to do, I reached out to my best friend. (By reached out I mean I actually answered the phone when she called instead of sending her to voicemail.)
I’ll be honest; at first I didn’t want to share my feelings with her. I wanted to act like everything was ok and get off the phone as quickly as possible. Nevertheless; I went against my feelings and tearfully shared what I was experiencing.
She listened, validated and encouraged me; then she said “now go take a shower it will make you feel better”. So I did and she was right. It wasn’t the shower that made me feel better (just cleaner and more human), it was sharing how I felt with someone who was willing to lovingly listen to my feelings of sadness and grief.
During both the caregiving and grief journey there will be bad days. Some of those days will be mildly challenging, others overwhelming. During that time just “be” in your feelings as unbearable as they might seem, then reach out to a friend and share with them what you are experiencing.
For me, I often don’t want to reach out because I don’t want to “burden” my friends with my sadness, however; they already know and want to help but don’t know how. Many are just glad that they can be there to listen. Whatever you do, don’t keep it in.
Keeping our feelings in, shoving them down and acting like everything is ok can be harmful both emotionally and physically causing us to get stuck in despair. Sharing them with others, whether a friend or a counselor can help to better cope with those days and move forward.
Remember – a bad day is just that, a bad day. It doesn’t have to turn into a bad week or month. Tomorrow is a new opportunity to create something positive and maybe even be the friend on the other end of the phone who is available to listen, validate and encourage someone else during their bad day.
Note: There is a difference between bad days and depression. If you are experiencing any of the following for extended periods of time please contact your doctor:
Fatigue and decreased energy
Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, and/or helplessness
Feelings of hopelessness and/or pessimism
Insomnia or excessive sleeping
Loss of interest in activities or hobbies once pleasurable, including sex
Overeating or appetite loss
Persistent sad, anxious, or “empty” feelings
Thoughts of suicide, suicide attempts