Personal – Mood and Temper

Photo by George BrettCC BY-NC-SA 2.0
Photo by George Brett, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Time for another Reverb post!

April Showers | April is a fickle month. Potential for snow (at least in some places!), lots of rain, and sunny days in the near 80s and windy days in the 40s. April is temperamental, for sure. Are you a fickle person? How so? Or do you sometimes feel moody? How do you deal with moodiness.

Let’s see…am I a fickle person.  This is where we need to go into dictionary mode, because so often I think of “fickle” as being unpredictable in a way that makes little sense.  The dictionary definition says 1) “likely to change…casually changeable” and 2) not constant or loyal in affections.  If we’re talking about my feelings for people, the answer is just a straight no.  I tend to feel a way strongly about someone, and that feeling may change over time.  If I’m spending hours and hours on end with someone, chances are that I will get annoyed with them eventually, even those that I love dearly (don’t tell my Mom – but this happened with her one time when we were on a trip just the two of us).  I think it’s the close and constant proximity that can make for a “sudden change” in feelings, but when things go back to their normal style…I’m usually back to feeling better about myself and the other person.

I suppose if we think about being fickle with feelings, in those cases my feelings can change casually.  Not always, but when they do, it’s a sudden shift towards annoyance.  And it’s obviously not unusual.

If we’re talking about mood…I’m not sure fickle is the right word.  My moods do not change back and forth frequently, and if I’m in a good mood I’m likely to be in a good mood for quite a while.  The main problem is that my mood can darken and change at the drop of a hat, and it’s likely to color the rest of the day (or days) to follow.  For example – I was coordinating to help someone at work, and forwarded their email to someone who would be able to help them do what they wanted to do.  It all went smoothly in my head, and I was pleased.  Soon after I received an email that complained I had used in the incorrect (but more common) spelling of this person’s name, and it was very frustrating for Person because there were two other Personnes in her building, and she did not appreciate it.  All this while addressing the email to Margaret…when I’d obviously signed the previous letters in our correspondence as Maggie.  The hypocrisy and inconsiderance of this message floored me.  For the rest of the day I wondered what I could have done better beyond spelling their name correctly to make the interaction better.  I never figured it out, and while I could have and should have brushed this off as a rude person not knowing better…I let it affect my day going forward.  I had been so pleased to put the right people in contact, and that one email shattered everything that followed, leaving me feeling sort of meh and unsure of myself long after.

My default setting is to be in at least a decent, if not cheerful and happy mood.  There are a few things that can affect that.  A series of poor interpersonal interactions with someone close to me has a similar affect as a single interaction with a stranger, but has a tendency to last longer, and dig my mood deeper.  If the Boy and I are in a fight over something stupid, and it’s lasting longer than just the time of the fight, it’s going to drag me down for days.  If it’s a fight that has caused the bad mood, the solution is to talk it out, and find a solution that works – something to look forward to and which gives me hope.  But sometimes…sometimes I’m just down.  I’ll have a headache.  Or be on my period.  Have done something stupid at work.  Not accomplished something that is dragging down my to-do list.  Or it’s raining.  These times are not frequent, but they pop up just enough of the time where the Boy will occasionally ask me “What’s wrong?” or “Are you ok?”

In these times, you do what you have to do to power through.  If it’s the kind of thing you know is temporary…you take an Excedrin, eat some chocolate.  Wallow while watching the millionth episode of Gilmore Girls on Netflix.  Hide under a blanket for an hour, or force-snuggle the cat.  I get myself into a place where the world feels possible and manageable again, and then I get back out there.  I’m really lucky that I haven’t had to deal with longer bouts of depression, but I know how important it can be to reach out to someone when you are feeling low.  If depression is a regular part of your life, then you should talk to a professional about it.  I have many friends who see a therapist, and while it’s not an easy choice to make, it’s one that has helped many of them find ways to handle the fickle moods in their lives.

The tempestuous days of spring are coming to an end – more quickly in the DC area than we would like to admit.  Sooner than we hope, things will be hot, and the world outside will feel oppressive (especially to those of us who daren’t venture outside without a layer of SPF 50), and all of us will be wishing for the days when it was possible to have some changeability in our lives.

So how about you?  How do you deal with your changing moods?  Do you self-medicate with cat cuddles and chocolate?  Do you make the productive choice (that I should do myself) of going out and exercising?  Do you wallow?  Do you see a professional?  And if so…how has that helped you to address your changing moods in the times between sessions?

2 Comment

  1. Nicole Holstein says: Reply

    Oh man, this post hits close to home.
    I am still trying to figure out the best ways to deal with my bouts of depression, but I know now that they are directly related to my anxiety, for which I see a professional. I am getting way better at recognizing when I am engaging in what they call “distorted thinking,” but the next step is correcting that thinking through cognitive restructuring, and that is way hard and takes a long time to master. I’m definitely NOT there yet.
    My problem is that the smallest poor interaction can send me down a spiral of self-doubt, self-blame, and finally depression. That could be an awkward interaction with a friend or acquaintance, or making a small mistake. Work is hard because my supervisor happens to be insecure herself, and is therefore something of a micro-manager and perfectionist. She can be manipulative and defensive and if I perceive even the slightest bit of dissatisfaction from her, (as tiny as a facial expression or tone of voice) it will completely ruin my day.
    The anxiety can be paralyzing because I feel like no matter what I do or how I do it, it’s not going to be perfect in her eyes.
    How to deal with this is still a huge challenge for me. I vent my frustrations and feelings a lot (as I just did to you), which helps. I get long and strong hugs from Ben, which make me feel like I’m literally being held together and would otherwise fall apart. Mostly, I try to engage in self-care as a first line of defense – that means lots of sleep and I make sure I’m exercising (biking to work, yoga at least twice a week).
    Thanks for posting such a personal story 🙂

    1. maggie says: Reply

      I am totally there with you on trying to figure out ways to not let little things let me spiral into a ball of useless Maggie. It’s taken time. I probably could have progressed faster with professional help, but knowing I had friends and family to lean on helps a LOT. Talking about it – with a friend, or admitting it all here helps. Hugs help. Being angry instead of crushed helps me, too. Anger is an emotion that I’m better at controlling than sadness/helplessness.

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