When writing the title of this article, I was thinking about this Garfield comic strip that my friend and I used to quote back in the 80s. Remember Garfield, the cat? This one is a 3-frame comic strip and he’s lying flat on his face in all three frames. You can check it out here. In the first, he says, “I am down. Down, down, down, down, down.” In the second, he says, “Down, down, down, dooby doo down, down.” In the third he says, “Comma comma down dooby doo down, down.” He’s referencing, of course, the 1962 Neil Sedaka hit, Breaking Up is Hard to Do. I just always thought that was such a riot, and apparently I’m not alone…it appears it was one of the favorites of Jim Davis (Garfield’s creator) as well.
Garfield looks about as down and out as a guy (or a cat) can look, and yet he has some humor about it. I like that. My friend and I, who were into Garfield back then, would use that line if we were having a bad day. It would go like this: “How ya doing?” “Well, I’m feelin’ kinda down. Down dooby doo…down down.” We would say it with dramatic effect too. Helped to not take the bad mood so seriously. Helped us remember it would come and it would go.
Sometimes when I was going through cancer treatment and feeling yucky, I could add some humor to my day, and sometimes I couldn’t. If you can, great. If you can’t that’s OK too. Sometimes you’re just having one of those days. You know the ones I’m talking about…you just want all the cancer stuff to go away. You’re tired, probably even exhausted; treatment is, well…kicking your butt, and you’re just down. Down, down, down. People try to cheer you up, but it’s just not happening. You just can’t “be positive,” and that’s that.
I’m here to tell you that it’s OK to just let yourself have a “down” day. What you do to take care of yourself when you have a down day is important. I know for me, a good cry sometimes helps. In fact, it can be healthy and empowering to give yourself permission to have a good cry. Current research shows that 88.8 percent of people feel better after crying, with only 8.4 percent feeling worse. Crying is a release valve for our feelings and stress hormones get excreted from the body through crying. If crying is something that you can do, don’t judge yourself for it…embrace it. Lots of myths exist about crying…that it means you’re weak among other things. I’m of the opinion that they couldn’t be further from the truth. I’m a “crier” myself, and I know that I’m a pretty darn strong person as are many people I know who cry fairly easily. (I realize that crying is not easy for some people, and that’s OK too.)
My friend Kendall Scott, Holistic Health Coach and author of Kicking Cancer in the Kitchen, and I are doing a workshop next Saturday (Jan 19th) called, It’s OK to Eat Chocolate and Cry! (which is the name of one of the chapters in her book). I’ll talk about the benefits of crying and she’ll talk about the benefits of eating raw, unprocessed dark chocolate. (For when you’re having one of those days…and she’s making healthy chocolate bark for people to taste too.) So if you live in the southern Maine area, join us on the 19th at the Cancer Community Center in South Portland for some yummy goodness. And it’s free to attend! Just register here.
As for the those down days, they will come and they will go. When you have them, please remind yourself that there is nothing wrong with you. It is normal to be sad and angry and scared given what you are going through. You are not weak, you are normal. You are facing more than you should have to face. Give yourself a break. I know how it works…I’ve been there. You have a good cry, you eat some chocolate, and then the next day you get out of bed and put one foot in front of the other.
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Photo Credit: JD Hancock via flickr