Lady Sings the Blues – Cedar Sanderson
There comes a time in every artists/author’s/person’s life when they get a case of the blues. I dealt with that the other day on the heels of A. finishing a novel and B. finding out I’d flunked an exam. But surely, you say, finishing a novel is a great achievement, one to be celebrated? Well, the problem is that with any big project, there’s a certain feeling that goes along with the finishing of it, turning it over to other more critical eyes for an assessment, and you left holding your breath hoping that it isn’t as horrible as it looked when you let go of it.
It is a lot, I told one of my friends when she expressed concern about my glumping in private, like post-partum. Here you have this wonderful new thing that you labored over for so long, trying to wait breathlessly until it was all done… and then reality hits. With a baby, that’s a balance of the wonders of snuggles and feeding, and the midnight feedings and lack of sleep and lack of energy, and OMG, am I an adequate parent? Not even shooting for good, am I good enough? And the mountain of diapers and laundry, and… I’ve been there, done that. Delivering a book has some of those sensations.
And, now that I have had four children, and this was my sixth book, I know that there are certain inevitable consequences to certain actions. One of those is that for several days, I will feel sore and slightly hungover after delivery. But on the other hand, all that experience has taught me that I don’t have to lay there and take it. There are things that can be done, both before and after, to ameliorate the effects of the blues. And I will be clear: I’ve been depressed, and this ain’t that. This rises to the level of mopery, not ‘can’t function’ and if you’re there, then you need to talk to a doc.
In no particular order, then, and keeping in mind you don’t have to do all of them, and some may not work for you, here are ideas for driving off the blues.
Eat right and exercise. I know, everyone says this. But everyone is right. Without the fuel you need, you’re going to feel bad. And even if you’re using this to help recover from childbirth, not just finishing a significant project like a book or a piece of art, the exercise applies. You just might have to take it slow at first. For me, I eat horribly when I’m in the endstage of a book or artwork. I eat whatever is fast and easy, and then wonder why I’m sluggish and foggy. Having someone to remind you to eat is good, if you’re on your own, consider setting alarms/timers to remind you of mealtimes. Eating regularly is important, too.
Exercise does so much good for the brain. I really can’t emphasize it enough especially for a writer. If you can get outside – and that was part of my problem with the book, the weather was dreadful – it has the dual benefit of getting you away from the computer and social media. Fresh air, endorphins, and maybe a companion you’ve been neglecting… all healthful to mind and body.
Some of the odder things I do include getting a book and climbing into bed with it, or the bathtub. I realize as a new mom, this one’s harder. On the other hand, one-handed works a whole lot better with an e-reader while you nurse. Again… experience. But this little escapism can be essential to stepping outside the mundane and irritating world for a while.
I put up a birdfeeder a couple of weeks ago, where I can see it from my office window. This gives me a lot of pleasure, and keeps me from staring at the computer screen for uninterrupted hours. It cost I think $5 for the feeder gadget and a suet block, and it’s better than TV.
Which is another thing. Don’t watch TV. I shut off cable years ago, and I don’t miss the talking heads one little bit. I still stay current on the news, with the internet, and I am not subjecting myself to the carefully-designed emotional manipulation of ‘news’ shows. I watch a little programming on Netflix and Amazon streaming, but I’m choosy about it.
I get off social media when I’m feeling blue. There is so much coming at me, and I can’t afford to have a public meltdown, for many reasons. I see it happen to others, and I’m sympathetic, but I don’t want to have a weak moment and do it myself. I will however talk to a trusted friend. Might not talk about the concerns at hand, but just talking can be helpful. As can writing a rant out into the word processor, saving it, and filing it under ‘venting.’ For some reason my brain wants me not to just close the file without saving, but whatever works for you.
I will also seek out a ‘funny’ site. I’ve got a few that will usually have me rolling on the floor before too long. LOLCats, that sort of thing… There, I fixed It! Is highly amusing to me for some reason. Because my humor tends to ‘black’ I also really enjoy the things I learn from my patients thread, although I don’t go often any more, it’s slowed down over the years.
But mostly, I know this too will pass. I hug my loved ones and warn them of what’s happening. As a mother, it took a lot longer to recover and settle back into a routine than it does after a book. But the warmth oozes back into life, and life does go on. The beta readers don’t hate the book. The babies grow up to be smart, adorable, and surprisingly ept little people when you aren’t looking. And because I’m a writer, I start the whole process again!