Yesterday at 3:17 p.m. I typed into Google “I don’t feel joy.”
I don’t mean that I was unhappy about something; I wasn’t. In fact, there was nothing to be unhappy about: it was a perfect sunny blue-sky Minnesota day. I had good food. I had a roof over my head, and walls holding up the roof, and art hanging on those walls. I had a free afternoon with which I could do whatever I pleased.
And with that free afternoon, all I could muster was to sit in my big grey chair and ask Google questions for which I already knew there were no answers.
You know what it feels like.
You pace the rooms of the house that is supposed to feel like home, and instead it feels like a cage. You hate the windows and the couch, you hate the books on your bookshelf and the clothes in your closet.
You drink coffee, take aspirin, but somehow can’t shake the fog in your brain and the headache pulsing in your temples.
You eat something, but still feel empty inside. You think about drinking something, and decide against it.
You want to talk to somebody, but you don’t want to talk to anybody, so you talk to yourself:
Why are you unhappy? You have nothing to be unhappy about. Your life is rich and beautiful and full of love.
I need to leave. I need to get out of here.
Where do you need to go?
I don’t know. Anywhere but here.
Where do you want to go?
I don’t know. I don’t know where to go to feel happy again.
The sun is shining. Maybe you should go outside.
I don’t remember how to feel happy anymore.
Yes you do, this will pass.
Maybe I should Google it.
You know what Google will say — therapy and antidepressants and exercise and good food.
I already took my antidepressants and I have therapy scheduled for tomorrow.
Then just hold on, it will get better.
But what if it doesn’t?
I don’t know why these days come, but they do.
I could guess at the reasons: I’ve been putting too much Taco Bell and not enough plants into my body. I’ve been going to sleep after 1 a.m. too many nights in a row. Two days ago I forgot to take my meds and maybe just now my brain is feeling it. I missed basketball two weeks in a row. My ratio of whiskey to water intake is out of balance again.
So I promise myself to do better, to eat better, to sleep better, to drink less, to run more.
But I also feel the inevitability of days like this, and it’s overwhelming.
What if all of life is grey punctuated by only brief moments of joy?
After wandering through Google aimlessly for another hour, I finally got up and left the house.
I went to the library and browsed the fiction section until something caught my eye. Then I sat in a big chair and read it. When I left an hour later, the world didn’t seem quite so bleak. The sun was still shining, and I started to feel enjoyment seeping into the edges of my skull, slowly replacing the guilt I’d been feeling for being so unhappy on a perfect August day.
Now my cells were saying to me “give us some motherfucking antioxidants“, so I bought a box of blueberries, a box of strawberries, a bag of spinach, a bag of quinoa, a bottle of green juice.
(My fat-addicted dopamine receptors were saying “give us french fries! give us pizza! give us a Crunchy Fritos Burrito from Taco Bell!” but I’m wise enough now to know that any brief happiness from a hit of that blissfully greasy indulgence comes with a price.)
I don’t even know if antioxidants are a real thing, but somehow the library and the sunlight and the foods that had grown on plants pushed back the fog.
Isn’t it fascinating that sometimes we eat the same foods that ants and bears eat?
A day or two ago I told you I want to make blogging fun again, and I do. But I also want you tell you that sometimes blogging isn’t fun and nothing else is either.
Sometimes there’s a good reason for this; sometimes there’s not. These days come, they hang around (sometimes for an afternoon, sometimes longer, sometimes much longer). Eventually, hopefully they leave.
In the meantime, keep writing. Give words to what is inside you, even if it is only emptiness.
And eat some motherfucking antioxidants.
published August 5, 2016
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