“What is your coping mechanism for those days where all of a sudden everything just turns to shit for no real reason?” – Anonymous.
Around 4 months ago, I was asked this question by an unknown reader (via tumblr). I screen-shotted my response with the intention of later expanding on it. Now – finally – I return to this concern with what, below, is my extended answer.
To start, I want to thank Anonymous for the way you framed your question. Your words drew from assumption; they said that no one, not anyone, will be exempt from shitty days. You never questioned if we coped, instead you asked how. Anonymous: you are wiser than your label gives you credit. And already, you are three steps further ahead than you believe.
Last Thursday, I experienced a day much alike to the one you described.
I had no time for myself in a space and a mindset where it’d become most necessary. I stood in more than one place: everywhere. I was uncertain of my next move, of whether my last had been asserted on a steady foot. I ignored this off feeling; rather, I rushed to fulfil yet another day of yeses. In my mind, I’d be limited only by the way the sun keels over at 7pm about this time of year.
That all efforts fell in my face before 4pm was hardly unexpected; it was undeniably my fault. I had once again, as Darina admitted over a pot of green tea, done the worst thing we can do: spread ourselves too thin. That Thursday afternoon, we sat in Crumpet and I offloaded to her as she did me. We both sighed. It was a session of Alcoholics Anonymous; there was no alcohol and a strong sense of disappointment to compensate. But warm tea and a warm smile across from me, I breathed for the first time that day.
Up until then, I’d lived by means of getting through – by nature, not “living” at all. And I’m not sure if it was a conscious decision or simply the point where things were always set to turn; but I would spend the afternoon doing what I love with recent photographer for Currently Loving, and also one of my newest best friends down here in Wellington. On first meeting, we encompassed the definition of two young girls. Awe we did, over music, festivals and fashion. We spent an afternoon alit by our shared passion for it all.
To return to your query though, how do I cope with those days where everything turns to shit? I’ll tell you one thing: the answer is in the very question. See: “those days”. When some space analyst first voiced the tendency of light to last 12 hours, he/she was thinking about human nature, and more specifically, the security we find in renewal. It comforts to remember that like everything in this world, days too are temporary. They last 24 hours. If you believe in signs, the way the moon sinks and the sun rises again, this is one which whispers of a fresh start. We should embrace the opportunity.
I’ve always liked to believe – in fact, I would claim it’s life-changing to be driven by the idea – that if you don’t like something, anything, about your life or the way you’re living it, you can change it. At any given time, we may alter the character or the lifestyle that resonates with our name. If those days where “everything just turns to shit for no real reason” are recurring – it is probable there is a real reason. We ought to address it with ourselves. Further, we should stop being afraid to change. The worst we can do is start somewhere.
Worth acknowledging, however, is that change is not always instantaneous. Sometimes, as bleak as it sounds, it is important to give space for the negativity in our lives. Ignoring the presence of upset moods or frazzled mindsets – viewing “recovery” as a delay to success – has only ever fired back the necessity of grievance.
There are highs to confronting even this kind of despair. To do so initiates a valuable realisation: that nothing has ever turned to shit all at once – not ever. As glum as a day may be, there are yet countless reasons to be happy. Begin, if you must, with what we consider to be mundane: access to food, a person to confide in or to connect with, a blue sky or a warm blanket. Despite their “ordinary” nature, such things are precious, and make our lives worthy of living. Even on shitty days, most of us have friends and family. We’re surrounded by opportunity for conversations with strangers, for laughter, for doing something we love.
As much as I love her Child, I’m not always sure about Destiny; I often wonder if we waste time with our attempts to reason everything. Many things only make sense when attributed to the broad term that is ‘life’ anyway.
Nonetheless, there was an element of “meant to be” in meeting Darina to shoot that Thursday afternoon. I suppose in that moment ‘life’ knew more than I. It knew what I needed most.
I’ll argue we don’t need indefinite answers to open questions like why things happen, but I won’t debate the answers aren’t out there. Of all days, it should be the shitty ones where we are reminded of this.
So my final coping mechanism for shitty days – aside from realising they’re temporary, seeking change or distracting ourselves with what is indefinitely good – is acknowledging the good in the bad. It is a skill to be able to view a shitty day as shitty, but worthwhile.
I can tell you now it will feel alien. Our reasons will often be laughable, and there will be times where we’re absolutely pushing for positivity. But we should strive for it anyway – for the sake of our own mental wellbeing.
When in doubt from shitty days we will learn; but if not, we will learn to appreciate. Sometimes it takes everything on ground level to go sideways for us to finally acknowledge the foundation which has kept things balanced for so long.
Just remember there’s a reason they say life is good, Anonymous. This is because on the whole, it really is.
If ever – identity-less or otherwise – you’d like to talk, I am here. I don’t know the answers to everything, but I do know myself, I know these days, and importantly, I know happiness nonetheless.
Lots and lots of love.
Shot by Darina