So let it be written, so let it be done…

I think there should be a rule for Live Journal writers: don’t write about how much everything sucks unless you WANT it to keep sucking.

I’m not saying that depression, angst, sadness, or grief are all in your head, mind you. I’m just saying that sometimes the decision to write about what a rotten day it is results in the rotten day getting WORSE.

I’ve been feeling lethargic all week. I’ve had a really, REALLY hard time getting any cartooning done. It’s been like pulling teeth. I considered writing a journal entry analyzing this, and just two sentences in I was feeling so depressed and lethargic I couldn’t go on. Everything seemed pointless. Oh the crushing despair… blah, blah, blah.

I decided instead to write about what I did when I got tired of doing what little actual work I did — a couple of hours of RPGing. After writing about that I felt rejuvenated, happy, and optimistic about tomorrow’s prospects.

There are some things, like accounting, where if nobody writes it down it’s as if it never happened. I postulate that journals (be they Live, or Dead-Tree) are similar — what you focus on when you write about your life determines, at least in part, how you will respond to what happens next.

Goth-teen-online-angst-poets everywhere are clawing at their faces as they read this. Relax, kids. You aren’t completely undone. All I’ve done is given you power to be even angstier.

18 thoughts on “So let it be written, so let it be done…”

  1. You have to give yourself permission to be unproductive once in a while, Howard. Since when you’re into it you’re REALLY into it, I don’t see a problem with taking a day off from time to time.


  2. Interesting point. ‘Course, I’m sure you’re already taking into mental account that this can work inversely. If I post about a bad day, I either counteract it with cute, self-conforting words, or change subject completely. Sometimes, an emo post can motivate someone to make the rest of the day better.

    Heh, just my 1.5 cents. I don’t value my opinion much, but you’re welcome to.

  3. I agree with Zappa some. I think the problem is when you only write the bad stuff and don’t write the good stuff. For me, writing the bad stuff makes me stop and go “Wait a minute, it can’t be all that bad. Look for something good in the situation.” Of course, I tend to reread what I write every few days.

    And a lot of times, it helps me to release the angsty stuff and clear my mind because I put it down in print and let it go. I learned many years ago that it is so much more easier to pick out some of the patterns in my life if I have the data to go back over.

    I think that just writing the good stuff is a disservice to yourself, just as much as only writing the bad stuff. You can’t just makes things go away by pretending they don’t effect you. I been there and down that the first 28 years of my life and nearly put myself into the hospital because of it. Positive thinking can only get you so far. And repression is not control.

  4. Huh, yeah. Sometimes it works that way. But other times, though, you just write about how miserable things are and then look at what you’ve done and then realize, “Wow. That isn’t so bad after all.” Putting something into paper (dead-tree or electronic) allows me some perspective about what troubles me, because there’s so much difference between my problems and how I feel about it.

    But then again I’ve never really done the emo-gothboy-wangst-poet thing. Skin’s never been good to foundation and I never did like poetry.

  5. Depression is so satisfying, though!
    Or something like that.
    Crap, I’m about to say the most emo thing I’ve said in months, amn’t I?
    No. Must resist. Particularly because it contradicts some other things I’ve said. Wait, no it doesn’t. Hrm.
    Fine, fine, I’ll say it, and to hell with how rediculously emo it reads:
    I’d rather be depressed than feel nothing. And those are pretty much my options at this point.
    May be the Prozac’s fault that I feel nothing, actually. Hrm. Of course, that leads to a choice between going from depressed + emotionless to MORE depressed + possessing other emotions.
    Of course, Howard, it may be that you’ve missed the point slightly. We angsty emo kids post whiny crap on our LJs in the hopes of getting somebody to pay attention to us and validate our existence. That it doesn’t work is no deterrent.
    That said, my recent cutting myself post was actually not intended in that capacity. It was more along the lines of “Woah, weird, where did this cut come from? Oh, I think I know. Weird. I’m worse than I thought.”

    Or you could just ignore everything I’ve written here, being as it’s 3am at the end of a loooong night filled with carousing and vomiting. Though luckily I partook in neither of those activities. I sat on the stairs and watched. Then comforted the girl who can’t stand the sight of vomit. Meh.
    Back to the point at hand! You could just ignore all that, and take the following point:
    We clinically depressed persons have a mental illness. This illness is only sort of helped by the drugs. Therapy helps much more. And writing in one’s lj is the next best thing to talking about it, which is the next best thing to therapy.

  6. Goth-teen-online-angst-poets everywhere are clawing at their faces as they read this. Relax, kids. You aren’t completely undone. All I’ve done is given you power to be even angstier.

    Thsi of course assumes that the Goth-teen-online-angst-poets read you.
    I mean, by the time I started reading Schlock, while still a Teenager, |I had given up on my Angst Poetry in general.

  7. I often find that writing about a bad day immediately help get it out of my system and I can then get on with other things. If I leave it more than a couple of hours, though, rehashing the whole thing brings back the depression.

    I think that’s also why my journal tends to have more bad stuff than good in it. If I don’t write about it immediately, I usually never do. So I guess I’d better blog my first week in a new city with a new job while it’s still fresh…

  8. There are times when writing about negative things creates a feedback loop, and there are times when you just need to “get it off your chest” and you feel a lot better afterwards. Not sure if it’s possible to define which is which. Triage is an art, not a science.

  9. I tend to use my journal not as a “oh, god, everything sucks, pity me” pulpit, but more of a forum where I talk about the issues I’m dealing with and ask my friends to give me advice. For me, the very act of writing some of these things down is therapeutic, and when I get good responses — from “stop it, you’re being a baby” to “these are valid issues that you have a right to feel unhappy about” to everything in between — well, that HELPS me.

    In no way is this a slam on you — everyone’s different. What works for me won’t work for you, and vice versa. But in the past six months, I’ve moved three hours away from my son, gotten divorced, lost several friends, and realized that I’m newly in love. Having some help to navigate those seas has been invaluable to me, and my closest friends right now are the people I talk to on my LJ. I could put it all in email to a group, but the LJ provides a better forum, technically, for this kind of talking/venting/angsting/analysis.

  10. If that became a rule, I’d have to find another service, or run the risk of getting reported to LJ Abuse.

    I can’t do what you suggest and have it work. I’ve made several stabs at it over the course of about nineteen, twenty years, and it’s never been good. If I don’t have a visible-to-at-least-one-person outlet for painful or otherwise unpleasant emotional states, they worsen. If I deliberately try for an unrelated, happier subject on top of that, I end up with compounded shame over the emotional state to begin with, as well as a thoroughly unconvincing piece. If I sustain the topic-shift pattern over an extended period of time, things start collapsing.

    If I do spend time focused on whatever’s wrong, I can either dismantle it enough to make it manageable or I can determine how much of it is going to require outside assistance. Periodically, having it out and visible makes it smaller on its own, but that’s not guaranteed.

    Whatever switch other people get which lets them just autoshift focus and therefore ameliorate mental state never showed up in my head. I might be the only one, and I’m not going to extrapolate a useful working strategy for the whole userbase based on my head. On the other hand, this might be the salient difference between having a bad week and having a set of ongoing conditions which demand conscious, constant management — and I wouldn’t like to extrapolate a working strategy for the entire user population based on some or several in the former group when that population also includes people in the latter.

  11. If writing about your emotional shit helps, go for it. Personally, I don’t like reading that stuff, it brings me down. I assume others feel the same way, so I don’t put that stuff in my blog.

  12. I completely believe that how we approach life dramatically impacts how our life goes. I wake up every day thinking, “Wow! It’s so cool. I woke up! This will be a great day.” And, most of the time, it’s a great day. I always think I lead a charmed life – and maybe that’s why I do.

  13. Right on Howard! And not only does it apply to Blogs, it applies to every aspect of life. The feelings you put into words usually comes about.

  14. Mark Twain (Sam Clemens) wisely said, “people are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.” You, Howard, have long since made up your mind to be happy (the “happy cartoonist”), so it makes sense that writing about things that give you pleasure will true you up to that way of being when something gets you down. Works for me, too!

    Others, with, say, a more choleric state of mind, will find release in writing about what makes them angry. Putting it down on paper or screen gets it out of their head, where it might fester into resentment, rage or depression. And as one who has lived far too much of his life “in my head,” I’ve learned that getting thoughts OUT of that dark lonely place is a great tonic.

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