Today just sucks. Don’t tell me I can’t control things, only my response to it. I know. But what do I do about it? Is this depression? Am I doing something wrong? How do I know things aren’t going to be sh*t forever?
How do you cope when life just sucks?
I have some pretty solid guidelines/ tools around coping. They are hard won and they work. I didn’t come up with them – most of of everything I live by I learned from wiser people further along the path than me. I try lots of things, repeat what works and disregard the rest.
But first, let me assert that I write from a place of privilege. Sure, I am queer, but I am a caucasian, cisgendered woman (by which I mean the gender I identify with corresponds with my birth sex). I have employment, food security and shelter.
So when I talk about days that just suck, I’m not talking about having your humanity denied, or your rights violated. I’m talking about days when Murphy’s law reigns supreme and everything that could go wrong does because today the fates have decreed that nothing will go your way. It feels like this day will go down in your personal history as the “suckiest sucky day that ever sucked”.
You want to blame the driver that cut you off, your partner for not meeting your needs or yourself for, well, everything. But deep down, you know it’s bull. It just feels better to be angry than to face the fact that some days just suck and there’s nothing you can do about it.
If you struggle with your mental health, this is all the more true. I suffer bouts of clinical depression and there are stretches of time when every day sucks regardless of how many affirmations I use or bubble baths I take. But that doesn’t mean affirmations or bubble baths don’t work.
Here are some guidelines I follow:
It’s never too late to start the day over again.
If I broke my favorite coffee mug, spilled the trash on the floor, and snapped my shoelace, I take an intentional break. Start over. Whatever ritual or self-talking to I need to reboot, I do. Another cup of coffee, eat cake for breakfast, do a cartwheel, whatever it takes to start the day over. The rest of the day doesn’t have to continue how it started.
If you can’t beat’em, join’em.
I shake my fist at the sky, Truman Show style, and challenge life: “Is that the best you got? Gimme your best shot!” And make a game of seeing what else could go wrong. I take pictures and share them.
Still, sometimes it gets the better of me and I get existential about everything. “What you resist, persists.” So when that happens, I give myself 3 days to wallow.
Yup, 3 full days.
I don’t get down on myself about feeling sucky and full of self-pity. I milk it for all it’s worth: cake for breakfast, chips for lunch and popcorn for dinner. I watch trashy reality TV or Star Trek on repeat. I caterwaul until Charlie hides under the bed.
But only for 3 days. Then I brush off the crumbs, take a shower and get back to adulting.
But I rarely go the full 3 days. Usually around a day and a half, I’m done. I’m over it and I’m over myself.
But if the 3 days are up and I don’t feel better, I pay attention. Depression will take me out if I’m not careful. So I let someone else in to help me navigate the terrain. I talk to someone. I get help from a therapist or my MD. Sometimes I need a med tweak. We make a plan with milestones.
But that’s a whole other bag of cookies. You don’t have to be struggling with your mental health to have days that suck. But that doesn’t mean they all will, that you do or that life does. If I can maintain perspective, it will all be fine.
Although I have been on my own mental wellness journey for four decades and love someone with Borderline Personality Disorder, I am not a therapist. Nothing herein is intended to, or should serve as, a substitute for professional mental health advice or diagnosis. If you’re having suicidal thoughts, call 1.833.456.4566 (in Canada) or talk to a counselor at a crisis center in your area.
Hang in there. It may not feel like it right now but someone wants you to live!