Sometimes, life flows sluggish, clogging up the pathways of your existence.
The map of your destiny is suddenly a scrawled, incomprehensible mess.
Your stars wink out of the sky, or misalign, pirouetting and twirling free of their proper orbits.
People rip out your hearts and guts and string them up like dried tomatoes.
Evenings stretch long as infinities.
The universe grows dark and cold and drear, and eventually, you don’t know why you exist, why you should keep on going. You don’t think you can succeed. You find your dreams outlandish. Days are filled with grief and restlessness. Your mind tries to cobble together some semblance of schedule while you’re heart rebels, and at the end of each unproductive day you just lie in bed staring up at the ceiling and thinking empty thoughts.
This kind of depression is not clinical, but spiritual – it arises from a dissatisfaction with one’s life, a lack of harmony between your soul and the existence you are leading. A lack of hope in yourself. If hope were a medicine that could be administered to patients, there would not be a single depressed person in the world.
For me, this happens when I see myself as a hopeless writer who will never achieve any success at her passion, who hasn’t an iota of talent of the art form, and will die unpublished and a failure. It could be anything for you. Career. Watching others get married, rise up the corporate ladders, living their vibrant, cheery lives while you stay at home and mope. The despair fills your lungs, your blood, like cement, and you feel half-fossilized with it. You want to die. You go to bed clutching a tombstone to your chest. You want to pluck out your own brain and throw it out of the window, anything except to suffer the pain of being a conscious creature.
How do you get out of these slumps?
Sometimes, when I find myself in this “gray zone”, I viciously tug the rain cloud hanging over me onto myself, wrapping my body in its freezing, mist tendrils and squirming and groveling about in the cloud-splatter so that it drenches my skin and ices my bones. I revel in the misery, almost as a form of self-punishment.
Sometimes, I eat uncontrollably. Sometimes, I pretend I don’t care. Sometimes, I unleash abuse on the universe, on my family, even though I know the fault is with me.
Don’t do those. They don’t make the storm pass any quicker.
Instead, I’ve found some better ways to stop feeling like I want to unravel myself from the fabric of the world. Here a few of them.
1) Imagine achieving your dream. The point of this is to reignite your passion. If the dream is pure (AKA one that the compass of your heart points to naturally, and does not hurt any creatures), then when you imagine getting what you want, what your soul yearns for, an immense joy will infuse your entire being. For instance, I imagine holding my first published book in my hands, and crying with unadulterated, almost painful happiness. It will galvanise you into action. It is the equivalent of snagging a thread of light and coaxing it into a full-fledged sun to chase away the grey clouds.
2) Reading success stories. Other people have walked through darker valleys then you, and they survived despite the shadows that still clung to them. People have put in years of effort to achieve what you want to achieve. People have waited, and been patient. It’s possible. Sometimes, it just takes that one lucky break. It’s going to happen. You can do it. You know you can. You’ve just got to put in the work.
3) Plunge yourself into work. I used to throw down my pen with childish petulance when I wasn’t writing well. But then I realized this was exactly what I shouldn’t be doing. Sometimes, you’ve got to keep on digging, even if you’re just coming up with clods of dirt and there isn’t a single glimmer of treasure in sight and you think you won’t find one even if you tunnel to the centre of the earth. At the very least, toil will distract you from your misery. Just, work. Don’t think. Ignore the grey cloud, even if it spits rain at you and laughs rumbly, thunderstorm chuckles. Just do it. Do it. On. On.
4) Knock on the door of your ribs and say hello to your heart. Sometimes, when we feel inadequate, we try to fish for compliments or reassurance from other people. However, though encouragements are lovely, ultimately, they can’t sustain you. Instead, listen to your heart.
Example Of Someone Not Listening To Their Heart
Person: Hey, do you think we’re hopeless? We’re hopeless, right? We’ve never, ever going to make it. I mean, look at us. Who are we kidding? Let’s just fold our dreams up into an origami bird and cast it away.
Heart (squelching uncomfortably): Oh, but you can succeed, it just takes a little practice, and this is your passion, this is what you’d do for no money, you like it –
Person: Shut up. Shut up. Hopeless. USELESS. *slams rib-cage door in heart’s face and runs off sobbing*
Example Of Someone Listening To Their Heart
Person: I feel so shitty. I’m the shittiest human being in the world, and I’ll never make it. What do you think?
Heart: Shittiness is a part of the general process. Nothing in life is untainted by a little shittiness. You can do it. You know you can. I’m telling you can, and I’m you. So.
Person: Thank you.
What I’m trying to say is, there really is a voice, a tiny, sweet, piping trombone of intuition deep within the noisy, cacophonic orchestra of fears and doubts, that already tells you whether you will succeed or not. You just feel it. Perhaps some people are naturally more intuitive, but you’ve just got to listen. You already know if you will succeed or not. In your heart. You know it. I know you know it. So, listen. Believe. Do you believe? I do. Self-doubt crushes me like a bug everyday, until I want to strip the skin from my flesh, rip out my throat and lift it streaming blood to the Gods, but I still believe I will make it as a writer. My heart assures me of that. Belief is the most powerful thing in the world. It moves arcs of destiny, shifts streams of serendipity. Believe.
I hope you found some of this useful for chasing away your clouds. With any luck, they won’t come back, and if they do, you’ve got enough arsenal to wipe the lightning-jagged smiles right off their faces.