Debthany Downer

My head is a mishmash stew these days, marinating fuzzy inklings into unfocused ideas. My daily life looks like yawning and claustrophobic mint and dust and poop in unfortunate places and half-shuttered windows and pajamas. All spinning, connectionless.

“Hey, how are you?”

“Fine, thanks. I mean, I had a full-blown panic attack yesterday over the fact that I had to remain alive for the rest of the day, and the day before that, the girls fussed so much that my sanity took off for Fiji, and the day before that, I felt too much like old concrete to officially get out of bed, and the day before that was some kind of mid-July vortex of antisocial unproductivity. Of course, the day before that was great—do birthdays count toward the statistics?—but today, I’m floating in a time warp, watching my body stumble around in search of my head. I mean, I’m fine. Fine. Thanks.”

About a year ago, I started reading the blog of a beautiful, free-spirited woman who wrote about her daily life in terms of intuition and enlightenment. On bad days, she wrote about being gentle with herself and allowing healing to manifest itself. On good days, she wrote about the change in her perception, some profound new way she was going to go about her life. I enjoyed reading her blog because she found so much significance in the mundane, and who wouldn’t love enlightenment at the end of PMS?

But recently, I’ve started finding her posts tedious and aggravating because nothing ever changes. She is always searching inside herself and coming up with bright, sparkly answers to life that make absolutely no difference the next time she has a bad day. Of course, she has every right to share her emotions. In fact, I think what bothers me the most about her journal is that it’s what mine would be if I were an optimist. Like, at all.

See, I don’t really go up-up on the upswings; I just level out into something like normal. I stop saying things like “Stomachs are retarded” and “I’m going to murder whoever invented 7 a.m.” and “Life, the universe, and everything are horrible,” but I don’t really come up with happy hopefulisms because what’s the point?

(Just think, I was trying to keep this post from sounding too depressed… Hello, Debbie Downer! I apologize to any of you who now wants to go climb into a hole for eternity.)

I never know what to write when I’m having Downer Days (or weeks… or months…) because I shouldn’t still be having them. The world is spinning, creation is evolving, and I should be changing for the better. No more sudden depression, no more losing myself in a swampy labyrinth of hours. I should be coming up with bright, sparkly answers that stick to my psyche like flypaper and accumulate over time to a bright, sparkly me. Surely everyone else is just as sick as I am of the constant ups and downs (and downs and downs and downs), but what’s a girl to do? Pretend she’s not a sloppy mess too much of the time? Lie her way into false perkiness? Ignore herself until the top of her head blows off?

Honesty is particularly heavy at times like this. Every word I come up with is a burden that I’m reluctant to hoist on others even as I’m buckling under the weight. I just have to think that one day, I will figure all of this out—I will—and then these words I scribbled from the darkness will be a path, stepping stones offered to other shadow-people as a gift.

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  1. Why do you think you “shouldn’t still” be having Downer Days? Downers Days know no master, from my own experience. They come and perch on your shoulder when they want to and wait until their weight squashes you flat. That you can function at all with that pressure is cause for celebration and an encouragement.

    I don’t know if you are already seeking help for this, but don’t discount post-partum, even this far along in the game…it’s a sneaky, sneaky bastard. And even if that’s not the problem, I hope you WILL turn to help where it can be found. Don’t be afraid to reach out. 🙂

    Huge HUGS to you, from an optimist who has learned that faking it gets you by most of the time, but not always.

  2. Bethany…just want to say I so enjoy your writing and there is nothing I loath more than sparkly perkiness..that’s never been my reality and I avoid like the plague anyone who tries to hoist it on me as theirs. I like you the way you are, honest, intelligent, insightful, and a damn good writer. Its always a good day for me when you have posted something new on your blog. So there!

  3. I for one like your honesty, regardless of whether it’s a good day or a bad day. I feel like you’re braver than I am sometimes, because you’ll write what I’m feeling, but I’m not honest enough to post it on my blog. Thanks for being real!

  4. Wow, that woman you speak of sounds a lot like me except that I don’t necessarily find “some profound new way [I am] going to go about [my] life” every time I come up from a down. I don’t think I’ve ever been the re-inventing type just because I’m a firm believer in “wherever you go, there you are.” It’s a heavy burden sometimes, isn’t it?

    I’m with your first commenter about the PPD. It sure is a “sneaky, sneaky bastard” and it was almost one full year before I finally sought help for mine after I had Anna Sofia and the last major breakdown I suffered was 6+ months after that. So, yeah. No tidy answers except once the veil of PPD lifted, it (life, the shit of it, the good of it, ALL of it) certainly was easier. Notice, I didn’t say “easy.”

    Anywho, I love your honesty and your writing. I relate to it on so many levels. I hope it’s as cathartic for you as it is for those of us who read it.

  5. you know what’s funny? (okay, not funny ha ha we have established that the life suck has you in its slimey grip) but ironic, is that you wrote this post from such a bleak/black place and yet it HELPS those of us who read it so much.

    funny, non?

    GOD, do I resonate with parts of this. Mostly the rage at myself that I can have mood swings after everything that I “know”– well, ha ha, the booby prize is that there is some kind of left brain right brain split with some undefined air space inbetween them and we may KNOW in the left brain all kinds of righteous crap and shoulds and woulds and coulds and must dos– but the right brain has NO idea what any of that shit means and the air column in between– well that’s the jokester as far as I can figure out and he likes to fuck everything up as much as possible.

    do I sound nuts yet? good.

    I have no answers about any of it. As far as I know, life is hard. We are all trying to make sense of it, control it, make it behave, give it order, and think we aer actually succeeding until another volcano erupts out of us, or a hurricane hits–

    all we can do is flow with it– ride it out– now, when the dark, wish I could bury myself in a hole in the ground mood hits– I just lie in bed and let it be– let myself be in that horrible place and think– yep, here it is again– nothing to be done– not gonna even try to get up and wash the dishes in the sink or answer the phone cause that would be TOO MUCH WORK– and I guess I just try to be gentle with myself and ride it out

    I resonate with how you tired of reading a blog about a person UP then DOWN with no perceptible change in her way of experiencing the world– I am definitely someone who can get UP UP there in mood– I can veritably short circuit for the amount of energy going through me sometimes– but I also truly seek to not be a slave to my ups and downs–

    but it is hard– I wish I had a different constitution. I wish were one of those human beings I have encountered on my path who are so serene, who truly do not go up and down, who are so steady– but I have accepted that is not me.

    and now, I will shut up because, damn, how much blathering before I should be doing some posting in my own damn blog.

    bisous, bluepoppy

  6. Liz – “Squashed flat” should be the title of my week. 🙂 And thanks for the suggestion; I’m taking it to heart.

    Mibsy – I never did so well with the sparkly perkiness either. In fact, I never got along with a single cheerleader growing up (not that I didn’t wish I were exactly like them…). Anyway, thank you so much for the lovely comments!

    Kelly – I think starting a new blog that no one knew about (a.k.a. anonymity) made me braver, and I totally understand feeling like you can’t share all. I love hearing from you though. Wanna move to Italy?

    Nino – Cathartic, yes, but like you said, not easy. And a thousand thank yous for your story. It helps.

    Bluepoppy – So maybe I’m a self-centered prick for saying so, but I’m really glad I’m not the only one who lies in bed some days thinking about all the easy things she can’t bring herself to do. Misery loves company, and I’m glad to have yours. 🙂

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