A bad day. Actually, the day was delicious: the sky a stained-glass blue for much of it, the sun warm but the air crisp, and the things on my to-do list all a pleasure. I passed through much of this lovely day in a bubble of sadness, observing the day from a distance, my misery and hopelessness much closer by. At three o’clock I threw in the towel and took the rest of the day off.
I can’t remember when last I did that. The background noise of depression is a voice growling “Not good enough yet, not good enough yet…” and the downside of being a stay-at-home-mum is never actually leaving the workplace behind. As a result I reach bedtime each day still trying to cram more into the day, never able to declare the end of work and the start of play, never satisfied with what I did today, and never free to say “That’s enough now”. Well, today it dawned on me that nothing that was left to do absolutely had to be done today. More importantly, I remembered that I have been here – far too often – before and learned this: when a tide of the blues strikes I can try to ride it out but there is no point trying to turn it. So instead of making myself better I should try to just make the most of the day. I shelved the rest of my plans, stuck the toddler in his pram and set off for a wander along a favourite street and maybe on to the park. No goal to fall short of, no tasks to fail to achieve, no hurry, no pressure. Just a wander.
We window-shopped, the toddler and I, both oohing and pointing at pretty things just because they were there. And because I didn’t have to make any decisions about what was for sale it did not, as is usually the case when I am secretly dragging a Black Dog around the shops with me, become stressful. Instead, after half an hour of looking at lovely things, and exploring alleys and lanes whose shops I have never visited before, my rested brain began to judder back into life and I began to think about other lovely thing – things to buy or make, things to give, things to do, places to go. In short, I began to imagine the possibility of feeling happy, and, having opened that door a little way, contentment crept back in. I spent the rest of the afternoon going at toddler pace, stopping to examine the things that grabbed my toddler’s curiosity, taking time to share his delight in little things. The afternoon was my gift to him and his gift to me.