This is a piece I wrote back in January as a pitch for the online magazine Hellogiggles, but since they never got back to me about publishing it on their website I figured I would just post it on my own blog. So enjoy loyal readers and friends!
A few weeks ago I was chatting with a friend who was complaining about feeling down in the dumps, but she wasn’t able to pin point why she was feeling this way or how to get out of this funk. I instantly thought of the scene from Breakfast at Tiffany’s where Audrey Hepburn’s character, Holly Golightly, tells Paul Varjak (V-a-r-j-a-k) about the difference between the blues and the ‘mean reds’. For those of you who haven’t watched this cinema classic I suggest you close your browser window, open up Netflix or YoutTube and enjoy. But in case you can’t open up Netflix or YouTube at the moment for one reason or another I’ll give you a run down of how the two feelings differ. When someone has a case of the blues, they’re sad but there is a reason behind that sadness. This sadness is usually fairly superficial, maybe you’ve gained weight or your favorite T.V. show went on hiatus or the weather is gloomy. Regardless of the reason, there is always a reason behind this slump. The ‘mean reds’ on the other hand come on for no apparent reason at all. All of sudden you feel like you’ve been hit by a wave of sadness and fear. And if that doesn’t sound horrible enough, to top it all off you have no recollection as to where this wave of despair and anxiety has come from or why it’s choosing to hang around.
Now that you know the difference between the two, raise you hand if you have ever experienced the ‘mean reds’ before? If you actually raised your hand, I’m truly sorry for any embarrassment that may have caused you, but I’m going to guess that a majority of the people reading this article have felt this way at some point in their life. It’s frustrating because there is no rhyme or reason to this onset of anxiety, fear or sadness. And because we don’t know why, trying to fix it and make ourselves feel better seems utterly impossible. This, of course, leads to frustration because we don’t understand it and just want to feel happy instead of horrible.
What I just described is a vicious cycle and typically it feels like things won’t get better, they will only get worse. For me, this frustration is probably equal to the frustration I feel when trying to explain Game of Thrones to an outsider. I get irritated, confused, and my words start to become just noises, making it even more impossible for them to understand. The frustration this creates inevitably makes everything else escalade, causing me to feel even worse and ashamed for feeling bad about something I can’t put my finger on or quantify to someone else. And in our culture we have a bad tendency of looking down on people who are having a bad day, feeling afraid or anxious about life and quite honestly that needs to stop. We are all humans and life can be terrifying at times, and sometimes for no reason at all.
When you find yourself feeling how I have described, you need to do one thing first: let yourself experience those emotions. You need to take a moment, or ten, to just let yourself feel whatever you need to feel and get it out of your system before you can start trying to help yourself feel better. I suggest taking time away from the chaos of your life. That means close your laptop, turn off your phone, and just let yourself feel all the feels you’re feeling. When you try to ignore your feelings or push them away too soon without truly experiencing them, they bottle up and a few days later you’re most probably going to explode, which doesn’t sound pleasant, am I right?
Now once you’ve let yourself feel what you need to feel for however long you think is necessary, I suggest no more than a few hours at the absolute most, it’s time to cheer yourself up. Try thinking of something to do that will make you feel calm, relaxed, and happy. This could be a number of things; watching your favorite TV show or movie, listening to some Taylor Swift while singing at the top of your lungs (come on, we all do it), watching funny adorable animal or child videos on YouTube (I suggest three-year-old explains Star Wars) or just getting out of your house for some fresh air. Now if none of these seem to help you get over that mean red feeling of gloom and doom, try talking to someone close to you, someone who would bury a dead body with you no questions asked. Just talking through your feelings can help you discover if maybe there truly is a cause of those ‘mean reds’ that are being particularly nasty that day. Do whatever works for you, there is no perfect prescription that works for everyone (except maybe Taylor Swift), because we are all unique and feel things differently. And that, my friends, is 100% okay.
So next time you are feeling a case of the mean reds come on just remember that it’s okay to feel that way, it’s nothing to be ashamed of and it happens to everyone once in awhile. Like our favorite pop star of the 2000s tells us ‘everybody has those days.’