Everyone knows when they are emotionally low. You have your own barometer within you. It comes on gradually like nausea. You are hoping it’s not the shrimp you ate. Are you hungry or did you eat too much? Maybe it will pass. It’s a “maybe I’m sick but I will will myself better, uh oh, it’s not working” situation. And then you know. You are sick.
I’m low right now. This is how I know: because I feel fat and ugly and unaccomplished. I know others think the same thing sometimes, and I know it will pass. But I have evidence others view me the same way I view myself right now. I tried to go into a coffee house this morning and the door wouldn’t open. But there were people inside eating and drinking. I chalked it up to their abhorrence towards me. I tried the door for only about three seconds but was convinced it is due to my complete lack of worth. Also, it could have been the wrong door.
The nausea, for me, takes a rather (initially) pleasant form. I become fixated on something. Obsessed. Once it was the space program. I watched hours and hours of documentaries and read a great deal about the Apollo missions. Another time—this lasted a long time—it was North Korea. I still indulge myself periodically and induce lowness in order to watch a documentary on Our Dear Leader. It’s escapism, and I often fuel it via the written word or film. I don’t work at NASA in the 1960s. I’m not in the foreign politics game. It’s a safe fixation. But then it’s not. The most ironic part is I always manage to fixate on something that, in the end, will cause me to remain feeling just as unaccomplished, maybe more so. I’m too stupid to work at NASA! I would have pissed off world leaders so fast if I had been in the foreign service because I am a colossal pain in the ass!
I am nothing if not consistent.
Currently, my fixation is a dead man. I’m in love with a dead man. He would be 106 if he was alive today. I watch him Singing in the Rain and as an American in Paris. I’m dazzled by his good looks, his amazing, masculine dancing, his good-enough and sometimes excellent voice, and his witty personality. Always a tap dance fan, I have over the years occasionally fallen into the YouTube black hole with him. It’s a good ride while it lasts, but then I realize the truth. If he had met me, he would have hated me. I’m too ugly, too fat, can’t dance, can’t sing. I was an athlete, and he liked athletes and considered himself one. But then I realize, as a swimmer, that wouldn’t have cut it. He did one film with Esther Williams and reportedly they didn’t get along. I’m doomed.
Doomed. That’s the way it feels, like doom.
And then I stop. At some point, I stop, and I say, “Hold up. You are sad because a dead man you never met wouldn’t have liked you.” Stop to think how incredibly neurotic that is. There are so many things wrong with this exercise in self-torture. So many things. One of the many is that in this neurotic nightmare world, we would have met when he would have been in his prime (1950s) and I would be . . . well, now, it would be now, 2019, and I would be reflecting my current state, which is the aforementioned fat/ugly/unaccomplished, and, of course, 51 years old. I’m pretty sure I’d be wearing my yoga pants with paint stains on them.
Slowly, ever so slowly, I manage to draw myself out of the low. I laugh at it. I mean, it’s funny. Feelings of depression aren’t funny, whether you are clinically depressed or not. But if you don’t laugh at how you manage your low points when you can, it’s a far sadder state.
So today I took a good, brisk walk. A fun walk through the city, my new home town. I did not grab a lamp post and twirl about it, but I did have a nice couple of hours in the library picking out a few books (a variety of fiction, not books to fuel a fixation). The sun’s in my heart (and I’m ready for love . . .)
And so, I s l o w l y feel the fog lift.
The fog will come again. It will for us all. I imagine I will engage in similar behavior.
Try to laugh at it. Things that you laugh at can’t fully control you.
This is a heavy post. I’ll leave you with one more heavy, quite controversial thought.
If you haven’t seen my man dance at age 68 with Olivia Newton John in Xanadu (yes, a crappy movie, but just YouTube the clip), then, I don’t even want to know you.