I'm no fun anymore
August 24, 2016 9:37 AM   Subscribe

Basically what it says on the tin. After a long, hard, stupid year (that isn't even over yet) full of cancer (other peoples') and unemployment (mine) and general global misery, I am no fun anymore. What are some ways you have gotten your fun, your chill, your resilience, or your humor back after hard times? Open to all manner of things but it does have to be relatively inexpensive.

Somewhere around mid-July I ran out of my reserves of resilience and became an anxious, miserable crank. As someone who has been prone to depression forever, I'm worried about this turning into a full-blown depressive episode. It's negatively affecting my relationship with my partner, who misses his fun, laid-back girlfriend. It's causing me to withdraw from my friends because their stable lives make me anxious and hyperaware of my problems. It's causing me to pick fights with stupid idiot jerks on the internet because how dare they be so stupid and jerky.

However, I have not yet started to experience my usual depression symptoms (endless sleeping, weight loss, suicidal ideation), so I feel like if I could just get a little kick in the rear, I might short-circuit the process.

For the most part, my "no fun" manifests as:
-Constantly working or worrying about work
-Constantly worrying about money
-Cursing loudly and frequently at inanimate objects
-A general inability to cope with yet one more thing going wrong
-A general disinclination to do things that are not 1) work or 2) fretting about work.
-A general "bristly" attitude with everyone and everything

Good things I do: exercise daily, try to eat halfway well, meet my deadlines, get plenty of sleep, try to walk in nature at least some amount of every day, count my blessings.

What else can I do?
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese to Health & Fitness (39 answers total) 66 users marked this as a favorite
I usually find that hanging out with young children revives hope and humor.
posted by mareli at 9:48 AM on August 24, 2016 [7 favorites]

Sounds like you are doing everything right. If you aren't talking to a therapist, also consider doing that. Even talk to a doctor about some meds to get you over the hump.

But I also think you need to give yourself a break. Cancer and unemployment are Big Hard things and it's perfectly fine and totally normal for you to feel shitty for a while. What I mean is: don't exacerbate your anxiety by being anxious about how you're depressed and anxious. Don't stress about not being the "fun laid-back girlfriend" if you aren't feeling it right now. You're allowed to be upset and feel all the things for a while. Give yourself some time.
posted by Lutoslawski at 9:50 AM on August 24, 2016 [13 favorites]

I respect that you are trying to avoid a depressive episode; however, you are absolutely 100% allowed to be cranky under those conditions. In fact, I personally find that when I am in a bad mood that I can't shake, most of the time it's because I am trying to pretend that everything is fine and nothing is bothering me, and as soon as I finally just throw up my hands and say "alright, you know what, life stinks and I am allowed to not be happy about that, dammit," the bad mood sort of says "thank you, I just wanted that acknowledged" and goes away.

Have you had long talks with your friends and your boyfriend about "hey, I could use a little extra support right now"? If not, I recommend it. Tell them how you're feeling, and how it's just hard for you to be your best self these days. Your boyfriend should accept you for however you are at any moment, not just the "fun" ones; and your friends should ideally be sensitive to your feelings as well. Sometimes even just knowing you have the space to not be "on" if you need to can help you relax enough to feel a bit better.

Other than that, the "good things you do" are spot on. If you have the ability to take one full day off where you're just by yourself recharging (and you get to define "recharging" however you want, even if it just means "paint the cat's toenails and binge-watch LAW AND ORDER SVU"), that can also help.

Good luck.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:50 AM on August 24, 2016 [13 favorites]

I recently had a depressive episode and started using a mood tracker app and it's really helped me center what triggers More Depression within the episode. Obviously certain stimuli are unavoidable, but the app really helped me think about my mental health in a more segmented, less holistic way which made dealing with it a little less overwhelming.
posted by griphus at 9:52 AM on August 24, 2016 [9 favorites]

look at cute animal pictures
try doing things you remember enjoying even if you think they're frivolous or you don't have time
posted by momus_window at 9:54 AM on August 24, 2016 [4 favorites]

You may not be experiencing what you recognize as depressive symptoms, but a lot of what you describe sounds like anxiety disorder, which can manifest itself (more commonly with men, I think) as extreme irritability. Excitingly, there is a lot of comorbidity with the two! I would seriously consider talking to a doctor about it.
posted by praemunire at 9:56 AM on August 24, 2016

Hi. I'm no fun either. I feel ya. It sucks so hard WANTING to be fun but just... not being able to. And then you stress over whether your not being fun is ruining the run of others, which makes you even less fun. It just becomes this horrible self-feeding beast. I half think the frantic desire to be fun makes it even less likely for the fun-ness to come back.

Soooooooo, what to do. Sounds like a lot of your no-fun-ness is due to stress and depression/anxiety.

For the stress you can only do so much, and it sounds like you're doing most of it. Maybe start journalling to sort of barf out all your worries on paper. I've started doing that and it surprisingly helps. By writing them down I'm acknowledging them, saying "YES! You are a thing, worry! I get it!", and having done that I find it easier to walk away from it or worry less about it.

I also think you should consider getting treatment for your depression and anxiety. Don't wait until you hit rock bottom and are in the throes of a bad depressive episode before you get help because if your depression is anything like mine, the worse it gets the harder it is to muster the will to get treatment. So do it now.

Finally, make time for you. Useless hedonistic time. I know I have the tendancy to focus SO MUCH ENERGY on being present and engaged and with it for other people (especially my husband and kid) that I leave nothing for myself. Part of this is my depression and anxiety, but part of it is also my introversion. I just get "over-people'd" and so drained and overwrought. I have started taking more time for myself. Alone time. I have a room in my house that I call my sanctuary, and I go there, shut the door, surround myself with pillows and quilts, and just check out for a while. Sometimes I nap. Sometimes I knit or cross stitch. Sometimes I journal. Sometimes I watch stupid ass videos on youtube. Sometimes I have a proper cry and THEN nap or knit while watching stupid ass videos on youtube. Basically, I do what I need in that moment to feel good. I was feeling guilty for taking that time periodically, like I was somehow abandoning my responsibilities and my family, etc. But in truth by taking that time for myself a couple times a week whenever I can I am so much better at life than I would be otherwise. I'm able to be fun more often, if only because I know that once the "fun" is done I get to hide in my sanctuary for a while and recuperate.

So take time for you. Seriously. Do what YOU need, not what other people need, and do it as needed.
posted by PuppetMcSockerson at 9:57 AM on August 24, 2016 [13 favorites]

It sounds like you're emotionally exhausted, and you're trying to make yourself do things to not be emotionally exhausted because you feel like this is a wrong way to be. Have you considered quitting that stuff? Just letting yourself be tired and annoyed and not working so hard at pleasing other people? I've had a shitty year myself and make sure to spend at least one weekend day sitting on the couch watching Netflix. Exercise and eating well and all that stuff is good, but sometimes not trying so hard to do things is good too.
posted by something something at 9:57 AM on August 24, 2016 [21 favorites]

Get out of town and shake up your surroundings. I did this recently - I live on the east coast, and I took a long weekend to the Pacific Northwest, where I had never been before. It was almost amazing to me how four days in a new city, exploring and just generally being physically 'away' from my problems could be such a game changer to improve my attitude and make me realize what needed to change back at home (for me, mainly that my job was sucking away all my joy and energy).

On a budget, this is still possible - what regional Amtrak routes run near you? What coast village is a 2-3 hour drive away that you could find a cheap air bnb near? Eat on the cheap at high star / low $ yelp recommendations and just take the chance to be exploring something new.
posted by CharlieSue at 10:02 AM on August 24, 2016 [4 favorites]

I find silliness helps... Allowing myself to play, basically. A local comedy improv group runs a free class for beginners which helped me get back in touch with some fundamental 'me-ness' grounded in positivity as well as work out some anger and frustration in a safe way. Very cathartic even if you've never been drawn to the idea of performing and I always slept well those nights!

If all else fails, I try to get an evening to myself, stick on some of my old school cheesy tunes and pogo frantically around the kitchen.

Making a decision? Follow the choice that makes you feel lighter. Avoid doing worthy stuff just because you feel you should.

Best wishes to you.
posted by doornoise at 10:11 AM on August 24, 2016 [1 favorite]

I wouldn't know, but I am also not very much fun. Personally, I wish the world were full of less people trying to be fun and positive all the time, and more people who are comfortable sharing honest emotion, whether it's positive or not. Focus on treating people well (and objects for that matter), try to keep your anxiety under control for the benefit of yourself and others, and don't force positivity if it makes you feel bad. Being chill, funny, and resilient are not prerequisites to being a good person.
posted by mammal at 10:11 AM on August 24, 2016 [18 favorites]

I had a couple of years rife with illness (mental & physical) and close family bereavements recently, where it felt like the shit just wouldn't stop falling on me for literally years at a time and I was definitely no fun at all during and at the end of that process. Before that I was a super-uptight ultra-high-achiever type, so going from that to some kind of weird twisted mangled person who didn't care about any of the same things I used to care about was odd (and its own special kind of clusterfuck).

My major avenue for dealing with it was to pursue fun-for-fun's-sake in a way that I had never really let myself before. Getting high a lot (which also helped me care less about various things), playing video games (if you'd told me at 21 that by 27 I'd be super into World of Warcraft I'd have laughed in your face), listening to upbeat electronic music, reading YA fantasy and lots of light fiction. Basically everything that Little Miss Literary Importance who I used to be before I got shat on had no time or respect for.

Before, I couldn't understand how people enjoyed "wasting" their lives doing fun stuff when they could be pursuing Important Art. Now I've probably gone too far the other way (can't bring myself to care/focus on Important Art long enough to finish a project), but that's okay because life is long (in some ways) and it's been exactly what I needed.

So yeah, my advice would be to unpack and disregard any guilt you get about doing stuff that isn't productive/meaningful/important/work-like enough (if there's any of that going on), and try out some dumb pleasures guilt-free.
posted by terretu at 10:12 AM on August 24, 2016 [10 favorites]

Distracting staycation weekend - plan a weekend that is full and distracting (for you! For me "a long bike ride and a stop at the bookstore on Saturday, brunch and a friend hang-out on Sunday" is full, because I am an introvert). I find that if I spend a few hours each weekend day being very focused on something challenging that is not work or the internet, it really clears my head.

Book group! My SF class/book group saves my brain most weeks. (If you are for some reason in MPLS, you are welcome to join us - memail me for details.) If you live somewhere without an actual physical book group, there are online read-alongs. If you like science fiction, I can recommend keeping up with the Tor re-reads (mostly pretty light).

Movie-watching project - watch all the Jean-Luc Godard, or ALL the famous screwball comedies, etc. Pick a night every week where you'll watch one and make the time. You'll find that after a few weeks, you'll build up a body of knowledge and opinions that will help clear your head of other stuff.

Novels that make you laugh out loud - something funny that you can immerse yourself in for several hours on a given day - I feel like a couple of hours of laughter and distraction really resets the old brain. Also gentle novels where nothing bad happens. I like The Enchanted Chocolate Pot, many of the Bertie Wooster novels, Nimona, Peter Beagle's The Folk of the Air, The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland In A Ship Of Her Own Making and the James Herriott novels/memoirs.
posted by Frowner at 10:18 AM on August 24, 2016 [5 favorites]

Honestly, I'm getting to the point in life where I think the expectation for people to be having fun is an unfair one. We invest so much effort in making sure everyone is having fun and it is this impossible thing. No one can guarantee that everyone will be having fun! And on the same token, the stress from knowing that people are expecting and wanting you to have fun is stressful and can sort of ruin it in some circumstances. So fuck it. Be no fun. Own how you feel. I get that your boyfriend misses "fun" you but right now you aren't feeling it and it isn't okay for him to expect you to fake it or magically start being fun again, in the same way that it isn't okay to say "man, I really liked it better when you weren't suffering from depression, can you just get better so that you can be fun for me again". Feel how you feel. Be who you are. Address your issues (I def. think you should get your depression/anxiety looked in to) but don't feel like you need to get better for OTHER PEOPLE. Get better for YOU, get better in whatever way works best for you, and get better however quickly or slowly you need.
posted by PuppetMcSockerson at 10:18 AM on August 24, 2016 [2 favorites]

Dog, of the lab or golden variety. Go to the pound and find a happy mutt and go out there in nature with your partner and pup and have fun. Dogs are so good at appreciation of everything, and at happiness in general.

My dog saved my soul when my dad died 8 years ago, and has done something joy producing pretty much every day we've had him.

I'm a lifetime dog owner and that is just what they do.
posted by bearwife at 10:23 AM on August 24, 2016 [3 favorites]

Disengage from media and/or social media that brings you to the grumpy place. Even Metafilter is sometimes guilty of this, and for me the solution isn't to complain about Metafilter, it's to take a few days away. You're not shirking a duty by not tuning in to the noise. You're not going to forget about the election or global warming or whatever. (Doing this in conjunction with a mood tracker like suggested upthread is also a good idea.)

Go outside. Be active. This is, like my first suggestion, is more a treatment for symptoms than a solution to underlying problems that may be giving you anxiety/short temper but that doesn't mean it's not a good idea.

As far as short term feel better fixes go... I like the rainbow barfing gnome from Gravity Falls.
posted by Wretch729 at 10:26 AM on August 24, 2016

Response by poster: I get that your boyfriend misses "fun" you but right now you aren't feeling it and it isn't okay for him to expect you to fake it or magically start being fun again,

Just to be clear, my boyfriend doesn't expect anything of the sort. But I'm basically a total fucking snappish, cussing asshole all around our house all day long, and he doesn't deserve that either.

Perhaps a better way to phrase it would be, "my partner misses the girlfriend who didn't call the bathroom door 'sonofashitfucker' eight times a day because it has the temerity to squeak."
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 10:26 AM on August 24, 2016 [4 favorites]

You've been "no fun" since July? Like...this July? That's not even a small downswing in my moods, so maybe forgive yourself for having ups and downs like a regular person for a bit.
posted by xingcat at 10:28 AM on August 24, 2016 [2 favorites]

It's hard when the thing you're worried about is something important, fundamental - like your basic security - and you have limited control over what can be done about it. Your gears are constantly working on the problem.

There's productive worry, through which you anticipate and prepare for problems, the (understandable) anxiety around / fear of worst-case scenarios that goes with it, and unproductive worry, which is your gears working overtime to solve things (and flying off their axle and rolling down the street). Unproductive worry blocks you from finding solutions to the problem.

Right now I'm worried about a health issue. (Am prone to over-researching around health stuff, in part because it's often weird health stuff and my system is what it is, but also because I'm just a worrier - have definitely lost my gears more than a few times about this sort of thing.)

This time, though, I've been drawing a line. There's a certain amount of reading and thinking I'm allowing myself to do on any given day (because some of it has been helpful, has given me good info for questions). Past a certain amount of time (about an hour), I make myself stop. Because I'm not solving anything at 1 am. Nothing's going to be fixed by my reading that other thing. I remind myself that I need to sleep, and that there's time for more reading/worrying tomorrow.

tl;dr, block off some worry time, make yourself stop when it's done, and either rest or commit yourself to distraction. Rest is what's going to let you move from unproductive worry to productive problem-solving. Remind yourself that that's why you're stopping worrying (just for now) and that you can worry tomorrow.
posted by cotton dress sock at 10:29 AM on August 24, 2016

The suggestion above to write about it is a good one. Journal, notes, scribbly drawings.

Re the squeaky door, fixing small things can be very settling and cheery. A can of trim paint and random window sill painting is my go-to. WD-40 for your squeaky door and other things that need attention.

Kudos for the healthy things you do: exercise, especially. More of that?
posted by xaryts at 10:32 AM on August 24, 2016 [1 favorite]

my partner misses the girlfriend who didn't call the bathroom door 'sonofashitfucker' eight times a day because it has the temerity to squeak.

Then he needs to do two things:

1. Fix the bathroom door.

2. Ask you politely to act less poisonous when he's around.

And you need to do two things:

1. Remind yourself to bite your tongue instead of venting when people you love are within earshot.

2. Wait.

Every life has episodes of going completely to shit. You're in one right now. Wait the fucker out. Better days will return.
posted by flabdablet at 10:43 AM on August 24, 2016 [5 favorites]

increase / change your exercise. get out of the routine. get a bike? get sweaty and tired.

(and you could fix the door)
posted by andrewcooke at 10:44 AM on August 24, 2016 [1 favorite]

So you've touched on a thing that I feel something about. I think attending to our home and its functioning is a way of helping ourselves re-tune. Eg the door is something you can control, so control it by fixing it. Then find the next irritant that can be fixed in your home and fix it. You're not me obvs, but man do I get joy from new/change of bed linen and making a super cheerful sleep zone. (Then inviting my partner to come enjoy it with me) Taking time to make my space work, cheer me on and nurture me helps me exert control over my mood. It makes me, especially in times of under-employment, focus on things I can do whilst waiting for work things to align.

The other antidote I've found to the dismal-ness of world events is to take a mindful vacation from news television, wind-up threads on Metafilter, Facebook alarm stories etc. Take a holiday from these things for two weeks perhaps.
posted by honey-barbara at 11:05 AM on August 24, 2016 [3 favorites]

I stopped reading for pleasure around 2013. Life was pretty stressful and crap for a couple years after that, and even after all of the stress ended, I wasn't quite right. I spent most of my days feeling dull and angry at everything. It was a grind to smile at people and a huge struggle to find anything to say that wasn't negative. I just wanted to be alone. Vacations and exercise and hobbies and socializing were merely stopgaps. Therapy was taking a very long time to bear fruit.

And then around February of this year, I picked up a book, the exact sort of funny and inspiring feminist fantasy novel that I'd put away as Too Distracting, and promptly devoured the entire nine book series associated with it. And then I read all the rest of the author's books--two more long engrossing series. I forgot everything I was used to worrying about. I only stopped to go to work and do the bare minimum to take care of my life. And after I was done, I felt like myself again. I felt like I was ready to engage with the world again. I had gotten my brain to shut up and stop yelling at me all the time, for a long enough time that I could remember what it was like to not be stressed out, not to be forever anticipating problems and steeling myself to deal with them. Exercise and therapy and all the rest of the things you are doing are important, but they're not a reward or a comfort for the endurance you've put into getting through the year. They are work. They don't let you truly rest. So, if you're the kind of person who enjoys a good book or TV series binge, I suggest giving into one entirely for a couple weeks, and see where that takes you.
posted by rhythm and booze at 11:08 AM on August 24, 2016 [16 favorites]

My heart goes out to you because I've been there.

You've been given amazing advice above (except, fuck that door). Here's the little I'll add:

1. writing, writing, writing - it's like an exorcism for your brain.

2. watch movies about exorcisms (I LOVE EXORCISM MOVIES BECAUSE THEY MAKE ME FEEL LESS POSSESSED, MYSELF). Watch any movie you need for catharsis. Or TV show.

3. create a space that's entirely your own. For me: it's my attic. With my exorcism movies. You are the queen of your space. It will make you feel more "whole" and less prone to the irritability which is a manifestation of the CONSTANT trying to keep others away from your depression (at least, that's how it works for me, ymmv)

4. Get together with women. ANY WOMEN. Just all women all the time that you love. Like your sister with the baby... or your friend that is your hype-woman, or the other friend that likes to go to second-hand stores.... or the old smokers outside a nursing home. Hang out with that friend that loves to bitch with you. Hang out with that other friend that is the nicest person ever. Women have magic healing powers.

5. Alone-but-healing time: gardening, art, DIY facials with stuff you have in your kitchen.

6. Listen to music that can become the soundtrack for your life in any way you want.... my favorite right now? Music to Hustle to (Katt Williams <3) SLYT

7. Remember it's going to pass. IT WILL PASS.

8. Take your vitamins? B vitamins, D vitamins, maybe some Magnesium (I just started taking it for possible PMMD) and get into the sun (ugh, that's so cliché, but sunlight can't hurt... unless you go out without sunblock and a hat)

9. If you feel like you can't be fun with your partner, go see movies or sports games or theatre where you can just sit and take stuff in, instead of having to ENGAGE all the time.

10. Go to the library like you used to! At the very least, something there should inspire you if you look hard enough.

Best of luck. Hang in there. It's going to pass.
posted by Dressed to Kill at 11:16 AM on August 24, 2016 [8 favorites]

N-thing play and silliness. Rewatch old comedies, spend time colouring, make a lego kit (some can be found for cheap), put on a tea party for your stuffed toys. There more likely to be judged as childish, the better.
posted by A hidden well at 11:57 AM on August 24, 2016

My husband is going through a depressive episode right now and its pulling on me so this is current. For me I have been reading and listening to books on mindfulness to take me out of the past and future. Cuts down on the worry part.

I have been forcing myself to do any form of exercise involving leaving the house, I read a book on depression to help understand my husband and it said leave the house daily and do anything physical. I have been walking, some hiking, sitting at the beach, in the mountains. Sounds like you are doing well on this part.

Agree with the person who said to write, one of the exercises in my mindfulness program is to write unsent letters and get anger and feelings out that way. Also make a list of all the things you are stressed about then write down all of your feelings and anger about it.

Treat yourself tenderly, we tend to expect a lot of ourselves and can be downright mean.

Also do go for counseling because it sounds like you need to vent and I get it that sometimes its hard to vent to people who seem to have a happy life. (Although I have found many of those hide stuff).
posted by oceanlady at 12:07 PM on August 24, 2016 [2 favorites]

Every morning, before you leave the house, have a five minute dance party.
posted by roger ackroyd at 12:19 PM on August 24, 2016 [3 favorites]

If this were me, I'd try to make as many opportunities for myself to sing with other people as possible. Karaoke is great. Also arts and crafts in a low pressure environment. There's something about the arts as a mode of expression that just brings out those happy exuberance feelings when you feel like you've lost them. Sometimes on your own it just becomes another reason to wallow, but with laid-back, cheerful friends, it's hard to wallow too much.

The other thing I've found helpful is throwing myself into a major household task with abandon, something big on the order of "KonMari my entire closet" or "sand, repaint, and refinish all the patio furniture" or "reorganize my whole book collection around subject matter".

To be perfectly honest though, if I'd been feeling that down for 6 weeks on end, I would definitely look to get back into therapy as well. I can't tell from your OP if you are already doing so but it's something I would flag as a consideration.
posted by capricorn at 1:20 PM on August 24, 2016

Daily Silliness Worksheets?
posted by sarajane at 1:42 PM on August 24, 2016

Irritability is one of the markers for depression.

Wow, it's rotten that you've been through all this shit, good on you for still getting out of bed.

Nature and sunshine really do help. Get outside if you can. Marvel at the stars (ok, no sunshine, but still), listen to birds, that stuff. get in some desultory walking or a brisk jog, or sit in a chair in the back yard with a beverage.

Dogs, cats, kids. They all have a unique perspective on the world and petting critters helps.

Music. Singing does really help. Dancing is good.

Watch the funniest movies you can find. Read old joke posts.

Hug the people you love. Bonus: they'll probably hug you back.

{Internet hug for you}
posted by theora55 at 1:59 PM on August 24, 2016 [1 favorite]

So, here's some advice that I'm pretty bad at taking myself: ask for some pampering. Someone to take care of you for a weekend, where you can be not responsible for any of the things. Sometimes I ask the wrong person and am not able to say exactly what I need (because it's not really pampering and someone else taking care of me if I have to do all of the planning and organizing for it, now is it?), and they just do it wrong, and I'm already cranky, and it doesn't work, and I get even more discouraged. Other times there's the friend who just seems to know to keep inviting me to things to get me out of the house, from low-key tv watching at someone else's home with comfy couches, to more energetic but still not requiring my active participation public music listening or movie watching. So select carefully. But let yourself share the self-care burden a little bit. (And then do it for those friends when you do have the energy again, of course.)
posted by eviemath at 3:48 PM on August 24, 2016 [1 favorite]

My depression markers have shifted as I've gotten older. Like, I used to have the "can't get out of bed/physical pain/inability to function" type impossible to mistake markers, but as I've gotten older and the stakes have gotten higher it has fallen much more into irritability, no sense of humor and difficulty taking pleasure in anything (anhedonia), serious inability to concentrate, and a really insidious quiet kind of Extremely Dark Thoughts where they used to be quite dramatic.

So, what I'm saying is, you might not be on the verge of a serious episode but rather already knee-deep in it. If you're not medicating, consider it. (Also, Lyn Never's Theme Song: "Getcha Thyroid Checked, My Friend")

But, I do also like getting a perspective reboot by going and enjoying something with a group of mostly strangers. This may be a very personality-specific thing but for me it's going to a talk about something I'm interested in, or a panel discussion, a reading, a live interview, presentation, Q&A, even a good stand-up comic or storytelling performance. Luckily I live in LA and there's something like that going on every day *and* it's generally well-attended by fans and interested parties so the energy in the room is pretty much always very positive and caring and it is fun to share that feeling with people. (Possibly this is why some people go to church?) I can tell that it has lit up a part of my brain that maybe does not get enough exercise in that way.
posted by Lyn Never at 5:37 PM on August 24, 2016 [5 favorites]

It sounds like you are doing basically everything right in terms of self care, so I'm sure it's frustrating to not see results in your overall mood. Just remember that it took a long time to deplete your emotional reserves, and it may take a bit of time to restore them as well.

If you have the energy, I suggest creating some projects for yourself that are small and will reduce your annoyance about things in your environment (for example, fixing the squeaky door with WD-40, as several folks upthread have suggested). If you can fix noise problems, broken fixtures/appliances, organizational systems that aren't working for you, etc., it'll feel good right away to solve those problems, and will remove some ongoing irritation from your daily life.
posted by Owlcat at 6:39 PM on August 24, 2016 [1 favorite]

I went through a period like this over the last couple of years. I understand a bit of what you're expressing.

What I found was that I expected myself to just "bounce back" to my old self as soon as my major stressors were somewhat resolved. And that didn't happen, and I was frustrated with myself. But I talked to a few friends about it, and they were great at pointing out that what I really needed most - before feeling lightehearted and playful and creative again - was plain old rest and healing. Stuff I had always been bad at prioritizing, and now was giving really short shrift because I just wanted to feel better, dammit.

So I've been spending the last several months ratcheting self-care way up the priority list. I don't help any issue or do anyone any good when I'm totally depleted. I made a list of self-care behaviors that I actually enjoy, and made a decent commitment to actually doing them. I've found that time in nature/outdoors is the #1 most healthy thing I can do, even if it's as simple as weeding the front border, sitting on the porch or going for a long walk. I also added in meditation and a daily 10 minute yoga wake-up as ways to take care of my body and spirit. It's helping.

The main thing, I think, is to ease up on the expectations on yourself. It really takes time to heal from a long period of stress. That gave your body and mind a lot of wear and tear, and it takes time for your body to re-learn peacefulness and play. Don't expect yourself to be wonderful and feel like "yourself" all at once, but take the opportunity to things that move you in that direction.

And squeaky doors? Yeah, ask him to fix it, or just take it on yourself. One of the best pieces of advice I ever received was that a hugely disproportionate amount of stress comes from very small stressors that we experience repeatedly - like, the shoelace that won't stay tied, the squeaky door, running out of coffee every week, the drawer that won't close, etc. Since we don't really have the spare cycles to tolerate these well, it's best to just get on those things and fix them ASAP. They seem unimportant but they're actually contributing a lot to the sense of too much stress and loss of control.T hey're simple and you can control them with minimal effort- so take them seriously and fix them!
posted by Miko at 6:41 PM on August 24, 2016 [4 favorites]

I have recently been working on averting my own anxiety/depression crisis crash. I tried to be more fun and positive, but I kind of suck at it. So I went the other way: I took control and got serious about something. Getting rid of the old broken nasty sofa, which I'd been putting off for a year. This turned into getting the house ready and clean so that I could have the carpets cleaned. We've never had it done before. Got rid of a lot of things that were not working, did some deep organizing. The physical activity was good and the mental challenge was just what I needed. A problem I could solve. I can't make myself cheerful, but I can give myself a purpose. Something that will be good for me in the long run too.

The carpet cleaners were here yesterday. Luckily, I still have more to do because they'll be back in 10 days to do the two rooms where we put most of the stuff from the rest of the house. After that, I'll actually be able to use all of the crafting crap I've accumulated. Or I'll re-organize the kitchen.

Sometimes self-care is not intuitive.
posted by monopas at 7:04 PM on August 24, 2016 [3 favorites]

Seconding problems you can solve. Find something bugging you in your home – ideally something simple, but nagging – and just fix it. It's amazing what a boost it can be. You walk past the fixed thing every day and no longer is it nagging, it's fixed and you did that.

The things you're already doing are good. Also nthing that sometimes just being grar is exactly what's needed. The world needs more people going "okay! look! I'm feeling grar today! it's not you! it's me! graarrr" and very often, this helps bring out fun. Because other people who are feeling grar will be "heehee that made me feel better" and all of a sudden your grar has made a positive change in the world! Hrmph!

I was going to suggest cats :) Dogs are also awesome. If you can't because of a schedule that keeps you away from home for too long, then cats are great. Look for a rescue whose personality jibes with you. Which, okay, I did not do for the two cats I have now, but it so happens their personalities are frickin' awesome and they continually brighten my days. Like this morning, I told miss chatterbox, as I do every morning, "you be sure to come back inside when I go to work, okay," and, as she always does, she said "mrap just open the door i love you but there are flies to chase." Called her ten times when I needed to go, as usual. Gave up. "CAT I'M LEAVING" I finally griped out the door and she zooms in and flops at my feet, belly in air, and goes "prrrawp". Then "chirp! prrrrraaaww, mwap, purrrrrr.... chirp!"

I was ten minutes late for work but still remember her last chirp at me when I told her and the fluff-monster I'd be back in the evening (as I always tell them). Even when they're pains, they're adorable. And they love you with a love that can't be denied. Cuts through even the worst depression. Don't know where I'd be without my furballs.
posted by fraula at 8:27 AM on August 25, 2016 [1 favorite]

Fuck anxiety.
def struggle with it too, and in an effort to be less of a buzzkill and more myself i've found a couple small hacks that might help

- kill your phone, computer, whatever. dont be available for x amount of time. do this as often as you need to. like i just put my phone on airplane mode every night. soooo good.

- take your guy, get take out and drop bags in a park or a rooftop or something. take your time. so nice to eat without worrying about dishes or calories or anything retarded

- you try that morning pages thing? i rarely remember to, but it helps significantly to reduce those loopy anxiety mantras

- calling old friends, who dont give a fuck if you have a cabinet full of fine china and moneybags and a career in medicine and a porsche out front. theres a lot worse things you could be. like an asshole fracking sacred native land. thats not cool.

- museums. especially anything old is a dope reminder that time does, indeed, pass and stuff changes.

- back to the future, bill and teds awesome adventures, waynes world..

- you've heard that story of the two wolves? i actively try to imagine *not* feeding the grizzly fucker that is such a hater. so i have a bad thought, i have to really stop, and crank out a genuinely better one. this one is tough and i keep face planting right back into it. but as long as im breathing i'll keep trying. you too. chin up! big hugs from way over here!!
posted by speakeasy at 4:21 AM on August 27, 2016 [3 favorites]

Perspective. Perspective. Perspective. Perspective. Perspective. Perspective. Perspective.

Frozen perspectives grind us down. We decide the world is this way and we commit to that, and are imprisoned by that. Instead of living in infinite spaciousness, we create a tiny cell for ourselves due to obsessive narrowing of perspective.

Narrowing of perspective explains why kids are so unbounded and capricious, while older people seem so immutable. You just get in the habit of seeing things one way. It's needless, because you always have infinite directions and gradations of perspective!

You let stress prematurely box you in to a habitual reaction. Literally anything you can do to widen and open your perspective will help. That explains 99% of the advice you're getting here and elsewhere. People will urge you to make changes to your behavior and circumstances that might jar you into a change of perspective.

But perspective is an internal change. It's sooooo easy! You just need a sliver of awareness that your perspective is, indeed, optional, and that your habitual means of reaction is non-compulsory.

This is true regardless of circumstances. Gary, Indiana can seem like paradise if you fall in love there, and a pristine waterfall in Costa Rica can be a grim hell if you break up with a beloved there. The externals are mere yadda-yadda. It's all a matter of perspective.

Depression is inevitable the result of a frozen perspective. The answer is simple, but you need to back up the camera far enough to glimpse this (rather than view your plight with the very same tiny, frozen perspective, so it all feeds into that same narrowing - that same depression). This issue of frozen perspective is all you need to know to choose another way. It will feel like pretending at first (because habit has established you in feeling that only your current perspective is the "real" one). Remember, though, that EVERYONE is pretending....they just get used to their particular conceit.

I'll tell you one thing with 100% assurance: it ain't permanent. Your old self - or a new, different one - is just one flip of perspective away. You have way more freedom than you'd imagine. Every avenue is open to you, so if you want to be a drab, cranky fussbudget, even that's okay! There's room for all types, and infinite freedom to choose your personal micro climate. Take solace in remembering that you're only PRETENDING to be stuck in this box!
posted by Quisp Lover at 12:35 PM on August 29, 2016 [3 favorites]

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