I haven’t written about it much here, but I’ve been in a funk for much of the last year. Not a full-blown depression, but not something that would let go easily, either. The reasons for said funk are not of interest here. Today I’m merely sharing the approach I’ve taken to address my state of mind. If you’re the bookish type who internalizes your problems, you might find this of interest. For those of you who prefer to talk out your problems, this approach will seem odd and a little labor intensive or excessive, but then you’re not me.
No Joy in Bartville–Now What?
As I noted above, I’m the bookish type going all the way back to childhood. The answer I was given if I had a question one of my parents could not answer was to “look it up.” So that was and is my thing.
Given that I’ve let my emotions run away from me over the years, it occurred to me that I could benefit from a little restraint. This led me to following The Daily Stoic on Twitter. The feed provides insights from various Stoic philosophers, including Emperor Marcus Aurelius, Seneca, and Epictetus. It also refers readers to books occasionally.
One book the Daily Stoic referenced was The Laws of Human Nature by Robert Greene, which was a combination of human psychology and philosophy. I picked up a lot there, including a few lessons that made me cringe because I realized that if I’d had the insights last year, I probably wouldn’t have put myself in the position I was in.
In addition to sifting through philosophy, I’ve also looked at psychology books and websites specifically related to the behaviors that sent me into Bad Mood Land, including anxiety and poor relationship skills.
And while I was reading all that, I found an online class recently that is based on neurolinguistic programming (NLP) and dealt with self-esteem and confidence. Both of those suffer when I’m in a funk. And yes, this can happen even at my age. Also, low confidence/self-esteem can slow down the recovery process, too, bringing the mood down another notch. I’m still absorbing the implications of the class, which comprised nine to ten hours of lecture, a lot of handouts, and a 130-page workbook!
A typical crutch of the struggling writer is alcohol. The problem with booze is, the stuff provides only a temporary numbing of the mind, with the problems still existing in the morning, I decided to curtail my consumption for my physical and mental health. I’m now in the midst of giving the stuff up for Lent (so far, so good). I’m not Catholic, but it seemed like a good excuse to continue down a path I was following anyway.
Accompanying the months-long mess, to my dismay, has been a serious attack of writer’s block in my fiction as well. Fiction is usually a useful coping and integrating mechanism for me. To prime the pump, I’ve acquired several books to help with specific issues in my writing.
Why All This Effort?
I don’t feel the need nor do I have the time for therapy. Books are my primary method of loading new software into my brain. The last therapist I saw (nearly ten years ago now) did a good job of giving me the internal tool set to address my problems on my own. She convinced me that I could adopt, learn, or develop the skills I need to fix myself. That’s a good shrink!
Books I can read at leisure. They allow me to pause and think. Take notes. Write journal entries. Then come back and read more. In essence, I’m doing my best to give myself therapy in a format I understand.
Will all this study and self-examination be worth it? Time will tell, but it’s been good taking action on my own behalf. May your methods work as well for you!