"Rainy days and Mondays always get me down." -- The Carpenters
Unlike Karen Carpenter, I love rainy days: The gray, monolithic clouds, the cool, the thunder, how green grass oddly brightens under all that gloom. Some people thrive on sunshine, but I'm more alive with the rain. Maybe rainy days, for all the noise they can produce, appeal to the introvert in me. Even daylight needs a retreat from humanity behind a curtain of clouds.
Karen and I are sisters as far as Mondays go, though. For years, until recently, that wasn't the case. To me, The Monday Blahs was just a shorthand way of expressing one's disappointment in the brevity of the weekend. The barely-registered downer might bring a grimace, but not more.
Not so, lately. The Blahs have morphed into something tenacious. In fact, "blah" is a euphemism because sometimes the dark impotence and loathing that creeps up in me late Sunday feels nearly tangible. For several weeks of Mondays I haven't trusted my judgement when I wonder if my relief might come on the heels of drastic change--destruction of a creative project I hold dear but have been stumped on for weeks. Just shred it, I think. Better yet, shred all your creative efforts. Start over. That'll help.
Of most options beginning with destruction, I am instantly suspicious. So Monday after Monday for a chunk of last year, I just hunkered down and bore this weird, 24-hour emotional flu, resisting my aforementioned instincts and waiting for it all to ease up. I would bear it alone in the house or out in public. When out, I gained a clearer perspective. I wasn't less convinced of my loathsomeness, but I was more able to untangle myself from the hold it had on me. I could breathe when I was out and about and had things to do.
It's important to mention here that I have always had some murmur of what the romantics called melancholia. As a child I had it and as an adolescent: I endured a semester's spell of it in college; and dips and turns of it have stretched into my midlife. Winston Churchill labeled his depression The Black Dog. I have never known it to have so much personality. I call it The Black Hole--the collapse of one's sense of self into a numbness from which even light can't escape. That's the belief at the time, of course, in the throes of it, but that's just another unreliable instinct I've had to outlast.
This means I know what I've been dealing with every Monday and occasionally on Saturdays. Why these days, I'm not sure. Perhaps I became conditioned to feeling crappy on Mondays, independent of the original reason I felt that way. For whatever reason, for however it started, it is. And I got tired of barely bearing it.
So I started giving these days The Finger.
That's an inelegant way of putting it, crass, but that's how I felt when I got sick of just squeaking through Mondays. Giving Monday The Finger is why I bring all this here, on my show-and-tell blog. The survival skill started on a day when I couldn't get out of the house to distract myself. I was in the thick of hating myself, and my mind wouldn't let me slog two words together with grace. My fingers wouldn't make the tiny motions to knit. I was so tired of this, I had to do something. So I took a larger move, staging a rebellion against my helplessness by cleaning a ceiling fan and its light fixtures, Then I cleaned the light fixture in the office. Another time, I dragged all the ingredients together to bake something. The process was laborious; each project took a long time because my muscles hated me, but I made them stir the batter, scrub the surface, or do whatever large motion I determined I had to do to beat back Monday.
By fighting back, I improved something. My environment, most noticeably. It was cleaner, smelled yummier, felt less like a cage, and that reward has been an anti-depressant in its own right. My grimness hasn't vanished magically, however; in the back of my mind, it still simpers at my worth. Yet I've trusted for a long time that I don't get to determine my own value. God's life bought mine back from all the lies everyone--including me--tells. Even so, I had not needed to so diligently remind myself of that truth with actions, until lately.
This Saturday, the hole began to open up again. This time, I arranged beauty against it.
I don't have Before pictures, but I hung a growing collection of photos and art on my dining room wall. I had some pieces on the wall already, but they were too spread out, and I needed space to include more. Some of the work I hung is mine, some a friend's, and the sketches are by a stranger whose work I ran across at an art fair. Since I'm not including a DIY tutorial here, I'll simply provide a link or two for the method I used to arrange them.
The clock and window box mirror were there already, and I didn't want to move them. Since they had a significant gap between them, I divided the pictures into two groupings. I walk through the room now and smile. Maybe someday I won't have to muster as much defiance to get a job like this done. But I might have to. Even tomorrow, on Monday.