An open letter to you for when you are sad or depressed

sadness
Hello,

You look like you could use some help figuring some things out. Surely you must. Or you wouldn’t have been compelled to click. So, let me start out by saying I’m glad you came here. No, really. I’m happy you would choose this lonely blog of all the other lonely blogs, books or WebMDs out there. You want to know why?

Because you mean the world to me. I mean that. It sounds stupid, right? It sounds like it couldn’t possibly be true! But it is. Because without you, the world as I, and they, and we know it, would cease to exist. You’re that powerful.

But you don’t know it yet. I’ll bet you’ve spent a good chunk of time wallowing. Perhaps staring off into the far nether-reaches of the corner of your wall, motionless, wordless, aimless. Perhaps you’re so paralyzed by rumination and ruination that it takes you 15 minutes to decide if you’re going to take your shoes off and forego a run to the grocery store tonight. And then another 45 minutes of staring and contemplating, and suddenly it’s too late to cook a sensible supper, and that choice has been made for you.

I’ll bet you’ve got mail piling up inside your mailbox because it seems too daunting to confront the outside world. After all, your inbox is just a tangible pile of expectations placed upon you by others, and you just can’t be bothered with living up to them. You’re tired. You’re not right. You’re not feeling it today. I feel that.

Maybe you’ve been letting yourself go. Bit-by-bit, piece-by-piece, pound-by-pound. Another extra cheap lager at the end of the evening. Another helping of McRib. A yawn and a twist to the other side of the couch as a Law & Order marathon blares on USA. I know.

Possibly, you’re losing hope at work. You were just passed over for that promotion in favor of that dude who shows up 20 minutes late every day, who spends his entire afternoons reading Deadspin and watching videos of skatebros getting punched in the nuts. You’re getting older and wondering if you’ve plateaued professionally. Maybe you just lost your job. Maybe there isn’t enough Jameson and ice cream in the world that will dull that pain. I understand.

What if you’re lonely? All your friends are moving on with their newfound loves, their brides and grooms and babies and playdates and kids and graduations and maybe they’re having kids of their own and you just watch the highlights from your perch in front of a 17″ laptop screen or smartphone, tuned in to every one of their happy Facebook humblebrags. You seethe with envy, you’re singed by sadness. “What I wouldn’t give to live in West Palm,” you think to yourself. “It’s cold here. It’s really cold right now.” Let me warm you.

A lot of people will tell you they’ve found the keys to happiness and/or success. And it’s really simple, and they give you a list of 10 things you need to do and some of them involve going out and buying one of those goddamn 10,000W lightboxes that simulate artificial sun, and drop 4,000mg of fish oil or take some Celexa for the rest of your life and confide in a total stranger for 30 minutes a week and shell out $100 to do that. But I know you. You’re depressed. You’re sad. You’re paralyzed. Remembering to do all that is a recipe for failure and failure is the last thing your body needs right now. You don’t want to do that. And I won’t ask you to.

I’m asking you to do one thing. One thing only. One thing as often as you can, as much as you can, for as long as you can. One thing, one word, one action that will change your life and harness the infinite power that you hold inside you to change that which is slowly killing you. One thing that will create for you a world which you’ve never dreamed and will provide the start point for all other endeavors upon which this great life has the potential to carry you toward. I’m asking you to move. And that’s it.

I don’t mean move like sell all your belongings and hop into a Hyundai Sonata and drive restart your life halfway across the country. I certainly don’t mean that. I mean move. Get up. Go right now. (Well, finish reading this, first, and then go right now.)

I want you to go some place. I don’t care where. Go outside. Mow the lawn. Go for a run. Read by the pool. Call a friend. Go for a bike ride. Turn the GPS off and go exploring as far as your mind will fathom and as far as time will allow … and then I want you to keep going. I want you to run farther than you think you’re capable of. I want you to get the mail. I want you to go to a jazz club alone and just sit there and let the waves of trumpet and bass overwhelm you. I want you to say hello to a total stranger you make eye contact with, and I want you smile while you do it. I want you to want to do this, because this is it. This is the entirety of our existence and the centerpiece of our lives. Motion. It’s what separates us from inorganic compounds. It’s what separates life from death.

Life is motion. Motion is life. You must move to be truly alive. You must get out of wherever you find yourself stuck and you must halt inertia in its tracks and say, “No, inertia, you won the battle yesterday, but today is not yet over and there is still time for me to emerge victorious!” And inertia won’t fight back. It cannot. Because inertia can only win …. inertia will only win … if you let it. If you don’t stand up for yourself and move and walk out that door right now and say, “Go to hell, inertia, I am going to watch the Buffalo Bisons play a doubleheader, and I am bringing a date.” Or just find a beach. And walk. Get noticed. Wave hello. Strike up a conversation about how beautiful the sky looks when its pastel colors are shaded by clouds of methane gas from local refineries. Find. Your. Future. It won’t come looking for you.

Don’t want to run? Walk. Don’t want to walk? Drive. Don’t want to drive? Call someone and have them pick you up. Do not, I repeat, do not, let yourself give in to this. Have you ever seen sadness? What does sadness look like? It looks motionless. Very rarely do you find someone riding a bicycle, running a marathon, or going for a swim in the ocean, with tears in their eyes. It’s really hard to do. Here’s a trick. Are you sad right now? Are you ready to break down in tears? Go climb a hill. I mean it. Go climb a hill as fast as you can. Get up that hill, I don’t care how small. I want you to find the highest point you can get to reasonably and I want you to get up there and when you reach that summit, I want you to look out over all humanity and say, “Here I am world! It’s great to be here!” And I want you to see if you still want to cry. I’ll bet you don’t.

Move. Find yourself in a place you never thought you’d arrive. Take a road trip to Oregon. Or Montreal. Or Key West. And if none of that’s practical, just go to the Farmer’s Market and find some fresh vegetables and make yourself the goddamn tastiest stir fry you’ve ever had in your life. And share it. Call someone. Invite them over and tell them, “I made this for you, here, eat it.” They’ll be so enraptured by the gesture that they will thank you and you’ll be friends forever. No one who’s had a meal made for them ever forgets it.

Keep moving. Write a letter. Write a thank you. Call your Mom. Call your sister. Call your old boss just to see what’s up.

Find yourself in the type of place you never dreamed was possible. The type of place you never thought you’d arrive in because you never realized all the power to unlock your own happiness, all the power to solve the riddle of your own inaction, was to simply move.

Get out there, now, while you’re young or young at heart. Stave off the demons that will suck your soul away for just one more day. And then sleep well, knowing you were able to squeeze every last drop, every last mile, out of every last minute of this day. And then do it again tomorrow. You can do it. You can do what moves you.

You’ve just gotta move first. You ready? Let’s go.

-J

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4 thoughts on “An open letter to you for when you are sad or depressed

  1. Pingback: Choosing to Not Be Miserable | Choosing Joy

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