Anatomy of a sadness

I am sad today. It’s a distinct feeling.  I’m not writing this to incite any pity party-type feelings, because that’s gross. I’m writing for a) the clarity and b) to feel a little less alone.

One strange thing about sadness, I think, is that the the whole of the feeling can seem greater than the sum of its parts. I can try to break it down; yet when I feel I’m at the very peak of the sadness, it’s like an all-encompassing globe (i.e., bell jar) that won’t quite break and leaves me with a speechless- or breathlessness of: what? I’m just so sad today.

I think the overwhelming nature of that can make it difficult to talk to one person, unless there’s just one person (i.e., significant other) in your life that you tell most of the dumb and also interesting things to, or someone else you’re constantly in communication with at a particular time.  But even then, talking about sad feelings can be a huge chore and maybe by writing them here, and not just for myself, I have to work harder to make them communicable and simple, thereby demystifying a little along the way.

So I want to try to break it down, to give it a little less power, or maybe to give it more meaning.

And maybe it begins like this: last night I had a strange dream that I was working in IT. I encountered someone from the way way back of my past, and I felt terrified to confront them.  We were working in the same room, but I was careful to stay out of the person’s way, until it felt appropriate to move into their little corner.  Then, I finally ventured to communicate, to say something like, oh, hey, we are working in the same room, etc., towards the end of the dream and it was barely productive, as I’d imagined.  (There was some other weird storyline involving “betrayal” and “Kenya,” but I don’t remember that one as well.)

When I woke up, I was tired; I ate breakfast and read my e-mail, one in particular from a close friend about his wife’s cancer. I don’t want to delve into that because it doesn’t feel like my pain to mourn and certainly not my story to share. But there are so many reasons why it stuck with me and hurt.

Then I had to deal with some bank-related things that made me feel mildly irresponsible and foolish.

Then I couldn’t find my metro card which deprived me of the success of being always on time to work although, okay, I was there before everyone else and no one cared, but when one of your part-time jobs is largely administrative, it feels important.

So the two above aren’t really sad things at all, but I feel like they dug into my ability to cope, if only a little tiny bit. In any case, I was feeling flustered early on.

The feeling progressed a bit throughout the day, peaking in the afternoon when I was doing some data entry, updating sheriffs’ beneficiaries. Typing the names of some people who were replacing other people who had died or were now ex-spouses, making speculations about who had written the letter, reading one letter that had been added to the beneficiary form, from a woman, clarifying that her husband had passed away. And it sounds ridiculous, I feel, but that seemed to be the thing that started to make me feel really sad. Maybe just the internalizing of it, the monotony of it, feeling really indoors and alone, and hating the existence of administrative tasks which merge with loss, like having to write the date that someone has died on a form.

I also have my speculations of, like, “drugs” because “new birth control” and “nerve pain medication,” both of which are reasonable conclusions since I missed two doses of the latter recently. That chemical aspect is important, I know, and when I thought about it, I started to feel sadder and a little weirder, of course. It’s something I need and want to understand better.

The sadness is going away a little now. But I guess I just want to try to dissolve the mystery of it, at times. What it is about a small, yucky feeling or two which combine(s) with a larger, lifting, overwhelming one, and then maybe some tiny action you find yourself in? This anatomy of sadness or “depression,” if we want to call it that, since it felt like that for a moment or more today, seems to be like many tiny particles bound very fragilely together, but particles so tiny and imperceptible that they are hard to shake or dissolve. When those feelings begin to tornado for me, they carry me to other “bad” places, where I feel relentlessly angry about things, angry even that it’s springtime and no longer cold, since cold makes you feel your warmth and solitude more strongly, like you’re a brighter light moving through the city.

I know I am also just afraid today of not having time to process any of this, which is partly why I decided to write it down instead of napping or lifting weights.  I have to be at a reception-thing at 7 and then swim lessons at 8, and I’d rather just not be “among the people” right now.  So it’s made a little heavier by that.

Does this resonate with anyone? I feel a strategy for me may be to write but also to actively calm myself, i.e., through breathing. Lying down and putting my hand on my chest, like I often sleep, and breathing into that stillness. Imagining something good or imagining nothing, which is a frequent thing for me to do when I can no longer be in my head.

Does anyone else have other strategies for overwhelming, sad, funky days?

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2 Responses to Anatomy of a sadness

  1. I have days when I feel really sad. The best remedy for me is to throw myself into a creative project. Or go to the Y. Also, I remind myself that these emotions are part of being human and in some way are validating in that you can feel deeply alongside with other people. I am sorry you are feeling sad and hope it passes soon.

  2. Sarah Fergus says:

    Sarah,
    I think we all have sadness in our souls that assumes power over our balance at times. This is somewhat like the happiness that is experienced for no apparent reason. Usually for me the sadness wins when I’m tired. One remedy besides rest is to be with other people even though being with other people is not appealing at the time. Of course time spent painting usually restores my spirit and enables me to enjoy whatever is there.
    I love you and care deeply about your happiness.

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