When I was a teen, and even into my 20s, going through heartbreak or disappointment, having dumb arguments, hearing about social injustices, witnessing tragedies, or any other sort of negative emotional expenditure, while not fun, made me feel strangely alive. Part of me equated the rawness of the pain, the flush of anger, or the self-indulgent wallowing with being real, deep, and, I suppose, artistic. As a closet wannabe goth, being profound was a life goal, and Robert Smith was my idea of emotional perfection.
Unfortunately, when I got mad, I’d lose my ability to speak in full sentences. I was reduced to saying things like, “Oh, yeah? Well, you suck, you…you sucky suck.” I know some people whose eloquence increases tenfold when they are cussing someone out, and while you don’t want to be on the receiving end, their blistering diatribes are nothing short of genius to behold.
I’ve gotten better at arguing since then, but I do it much less than I used to (though some of you may think otherwise!), even though there is no shortage of upsetting information out there. It’s pretty much impossible, unless you’ve reached a state of zen incomprehensible to me, to read the news, Facebook, anything, without regretting not having clicked on the cat videos instead.
We get angry at the news. We get angry at people responding to the news. We get angry at the way others cope with responses to the news. Then maybe we get angry with ourselves for the rabbit hole of anger and fear we allowed ourselves to go down. It’s exhausting, so an eloquent argument, while now is something of which I’m more than capable, is the last thing I feel like having.
Today has been a hell of a day, news-wise. I’ve been angered and saddened by what I’ve read and seen, and frustrated by things that make no sense and I feel powerless to change. I’ve thought about tuning everything out and living in blissful ignorance for the rest of my days until the world blows up. Would it be such a terrible thing to be out of touch with current events? I’d have fewer distractions and would be able to devote my finite emotional energy to my family, my friends, and the little world I live in. After all, my kids are already a lot to deal with, and I have a back porch that needs defending from a billion spiders.
Alas, my need for mental peace is at war with what I feel like is my responsibility to know what’s going on. I’ve taken mini-breaks from news and social media (which I highly recommend), but ultimately my desire to not be a total self-centered ignoramus brings me back.
So how do I successfully keep from going crazy?
I’m not entirely sure that I do.
Maybe I’ll spend quality time with my loved ones or take a walk. My general go-tos are prayer, exercise, distraction, denial, volunteering, and escape. All of these have worked some of the time, but none have worked for me all the time. (Or maybe a better way of saying it is:
I had to throw this in there- it’s been in my head for weeks. Totally inappropriate, I know.)
But I persevere, because, for example, if I pray long enough, I find peace of mind, until the next time I lose it. Then I’ll pray again. Or I’ll binge-watch Netflix until I run out of episodes, then I’ll find a new show. Repeat.
I don’t think there’s a permanent fix for it, just a whole lot of trial and error.
I’m not the greatest at seeing hope through the fog of despair, but I’m working on it. Maybe it’s normal to have to balance our tenuous happiness with joy-stealing realities. If there is a remedy for “the world is a cluster-eff” depression, it probably involves helping other people and keeping on keeping on. In the meantime, tonight I’m going to play with the kids, watch TV, eat some chocolate, have a glass of wine, and then pray like the dickens that tomorrow is a better day.