When Your Mojo Says No Go

By Barton Goldsmith
Tribune News Service.

Does it sometimes seem that the world is crashing in around you and that you are just going from one problem to the next?

Well that’s sometimes how life is. When life gets difficult, and the difficulty continues for a while, it can traumatize you.

It can change your whole outlook so that you no longer can see the good that is around you or even feel the love from those who care for you.

Depression isn’t necessarily a part of life’s problems, but most everyone goes through a little of it. Millions of others deal with the emotional pain of fighting their internal battles on a daily basis. This happens when life keeps knocking you down as soon as you think you’ve gotten back on your feet, and when it becomes a constant war, depression and PTSD are not an uncommon result.

Sometimes it feels like you just can’t catch a break. You get even with your bills, and suddenly you need a new roof or dental work that costs thousands. You help a loved one heal from a difficult illness, and another family member gets hospitalized. It can feel like a never-ending circle of suffering.

I know that life is not an escalator, and we are never constantly moving upward; sometimes we have to take the stairs, and sometimes we fall down them, which can be a painful process. The sadness that comes with difficult times is real, and you are not being a baby by feeling your pain. If you don’t let it out, the feelings will fester, and you can end up feeling emotionally wounded for a very long time.

When you know that you are going through a tough time, start being gentler with yourself. Yes, you will need to pick yourself up soon, but for the moment, be kind to your mind and body, if just for a bit, until you can start back up those stairs again. Know also that although your world cannot always be moving in an upward direction, it can’t be in a constant downward spiral either. Cognitively understanding your circumstances will add some peace of mind, and even if your brain goes to that dark place again, you can still use this reminder.

Taking a mental health day and just relaxing in the sun can be very healing. Even one day can make a difference, but you most likely will need more. You don’t have to go to Hawaii. If you are too traumatized to leave home, you may want to have a stay-cation instead. I get a lot of comfort from my home, and I need to stay close by the vet just now. So I’m using my home as a hideaway and ordering a lot of delivery (kind of like room service). Just treating yourself kindly, by taking a yoga class, watching a movie or reading, is going to aid you in getting your mojo back. Call it passive regeneration.

You can even break some of your own rules. For example, I have always hated having the TV on during the weekdays. It felt like a waste of time if I didn’t have the flu or something that made me stay in bed, but my thinking has changed. Observing trauma and having my own, I’ve found that using the television as background noise can make you feel like there’s someone around somewhere. It can be comforting, and if that works for you, it’s a fine addition to all the tricks and tools you can use to rebalance your life. Just remember to put on uplifting programs. Watching the news all day will depress anyone.

When you feel like the world is crashing in on you, it probably is, but it’s most likely not terminal, even if it feels that way. Know you aren’t going crazy but are just feeling overwhelmed. Be easy on yourself and do what you need to do to avoid a breakdown and to get back to where you once were. It’s never as simple as it sounds, but it is very doable.
(Dr. Barton Goldsmith, a psychotherapist in Westlake Village, Calif., is the author of “The Happy Couple: How to Make Happiness a Habit One Little Loving Thing at a Time.”)

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