The fridge-sticker's guide to mental health

I'm an inveterate "fridge-sticker."

Family photos. Cards. Playbills. Two Walt Whitman magnets. Magnetic poetry, including a rather minimalist contribution from my 14-year-old nephew, "I devour thee, naked candy."

My family has valued fridge ephemera for generations, to the extent that fridge magnets are the de facto souvenir whenever anyone goes on a trip. Our fridge collections betray our politics, our religious convictions (or lack thereof), our friends—everything we find important enough to see many, many times in a day.

There's a new addition to my fridge these days, and it's something I'm happy to have, but grateful that I haven't needed recently.

A little context, perhaps.

A few weeks ago, I had a bad night. A really bad night. Hours of ugly, teary, snotty crying—not a good time. My evening plans had been changed rather abruptly (damn snowstorm) and for some reason, I completely fell apart at the prospect of spending a long, lonely night all by myself.

What was worse, though, was that there were plenty of things I could have done to yank myself out of the doldrums—but in the distress and panic of an unanticipated stretch of solitary confinement, I simply could not gather my wits together. (We'll address what's starting to sound like a pathological fear of being alone in a future post, perhaps.)

The next day, I decided that if I didn't want to be at the mercy of my admittedly mercurial moods, I needed to take some practical pre-emptive steps. Always literal-minded, I came up with a list called "Cheer yourself up." Wrote it up. In different colours of markers. And stuck it on the fridge.

I figured that if I wrote down all the things I could do that might make me feel better, I'd have a better chance of actually doing them, of weathering the next emotional storm with a little less snot and a little more dignity. Think of this as my optimistic, straightforward, compassionate side talking calmly to my insecure, scared, doubting side.

Here's the list (and yes, I wrote in all in lowercase):
  1. write it out in your journal
  2. go for a walk
  3. write a blog post or short story
  4. go onto and do the quizzes (I like self-help quizzes)
  5. have a shower (I also like showers)
  6. watch a movie
  7. make cookies
  8. play happy music
  9. play dress-up
  10. clean something
  11. do a crafty project—preferably one that's straightforward and easy
  12. read "the right to write" and do the exercises
  13. play with the cat dangler
  14. play guitar
  15. go on
Interesting how many of the items start with "play." Funny, too, that the very act of writing the list up makes it less likely that I'll need it—just knowing I have a game plan if the blues hit makes it easier to keep the beasts of sadness at bay.

Do you have tips for lifting yourself up out of the doldrums? Let me know!


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