How this blog kept me from going over the edge

I spent a good portion of this year in a bit of a funk. Several things in my life just weren’t working out like I wanted; I wrote about it here. I kept taking action as best I could to improve my circumstances and slowly they have gotten better. But the funk lingered.

West Park Christian Church

I’m prone to funks. I’ve learned that when they don’t pass on their own I need to do two things:

  • Shake up my routines. I’m a bit absent-minded; without set routines I’ll forget to do things like brush my teeth. But when I’m in a funk, the routines feel very stale. Changing some habits around helps everyday things feel fresh.
  • Do the opposite of what I want to do. If you’re prone to funks, too, you know how easy it is to let inertia take over. You sleep in later and later. You don’t keep up with the housework and the place starts looking unkept. Stuff like that. As much as I can, I force myself to do something I don’t want to do. The accomplishment is a small victory.

Freshness and victory are the very oxygen my internal fire’s dying embers need.

But how to implement these? I started thinking about what I was enjoying, and I realized that my best pleasure has come from writing in this blog and reading your comments. So, I wondered, how can I do more of that?

I don’t know if you noticed, but a couple months ago I quietly shifted Down the Road from a Monday-Thursday schedule to a Monday-Wednesday-Friday schedule.

It’s because I now get up early every day – 5 a.m. I use the quiet morning time to write.

You’ve got to know how hard it is to get up earlier. But it accomplished both goals. I had been sleeping in as long as I dared; I had been going to work later and later. Getting up earlier was the opposite of what I wanted to do, and doing it upended many of my routines.

It also had an wonderful and unintended side effect: it eased my insomnia. I’ve always been a bit of an insomniac but it’s been particularly bad for the last few years. But getting up an hour earlier led predictably to a couple rough weeks because I was never sleeping enough. And then one day I found myself nodding off at 9 p.m. And it happened again a couple nights later, and then it became pretty routine. I have trouble sleeping only one or two nights a week now (this is a big improvement!), but even then sleep does come. Sleeping better has helped me feel more human every day, which has also helped lift this funk!

I learned several years ago that my feelings are like the dashboard in my car. They tell me things about how my internal processes are doing. And for me, a funk is like the oil light on my car’s dashboard – when it lights, pull over immediately, because continuing could seize up the engine. Funks can turn into major depressions. I’ve had a few of those in my lifetime and I’ve usually needed external intervention to recover. So it’s very important to nip funks in the bud.

Mission accomplished this time, and it’s all because I made myself get up earlier so you’d have more Down the Road to read.

It’s hard to be depressed when life has joy. Read about my first hard lesson in this truth.


24 thoughts on “How this blog kept me from going over the edge

  1. Outstanding! You also suggested a couple things I haven’t tried. (And I will try them. Now is a good time.)

    I’m sorry to learn that you were in a funk, but glad that you got control of it.

    It helps me to remember a couple of things: (1) Nothing is as good or as bad as it seems in the moment. (2) God is in charge and everything is going according to plan, so everything happens for a good reason. My job is to discover the reason and live accordingly.

  2. Dani says:

    This post really resonates with me as I’ve been dealing with my own “funkness” this year. Forcing myself to do things I don’t feel like doing has been key. On a good note, all this couch time has contributed to reading more books this year than in the past 5 years; I’m reading #36.

  3. Mike P. says:

    I hear what your saying because I’m living it also. This world can get us down and we sometimes have to remind ourselves that this is only a temporary stay over :) You write and I’ll paint, there is peace.

  4. hmunro says:

    So glad to hear that you’ve found an antidote to “the funk,” Jim. And even more happy to hear that it’s resulting in more of your wonderful blog posts!

    But if ever you feel a bit down again, let the comments on this post be reminder that your words resonate with a lot of people, and that your loyal readers are all rooting for you — myself included.

    Here’s to shaking up routines, and to small victories!

  5. At least you’re aware of when this funk is occurring. And know how to take steps to alleviate it. It’s when you don’t take heed of the symptoms and that’s when it starts to consume you. I always enjoy your posts! Glad it’s therapy for ya!

    • I’m not sure why my blog ends up being therapy for me, but I’m sure glad it’s there. I appreciate your comments on every post.

  6. I’m a new reader, so I had to click a few back links to catch up on your story. Too bad you don’t live in the South. Where I am, most families also revolve around church and faith. I understand your need to find a new church. I am the most welcoming person ever, because I know what it feels like to be the new one. We also changed churches to find a good youth program. SO VERY important! If you lived here in the South, I would declare you to be on my “fix-up” list and match you up with all my single girl friends. Then my husband would tell me to mind my business, blah, blah, blah.

    Glad you are feeling better and out of your funk. Love the blog. Love the stories. Love the photography. Keep going. And going.

    • When I was married, my wife’s two sisters lived in Alabama and Texas, and from there I got a glimpse of the church culture. But being married, I did not get a glimpse of the fix-up-the-single-guy culture. I do believe I’d enjoy that now! Thanks for reading.

  7. Carla says:

    I am sorry that I don’t always comment, but my teaching schedule has been very demanding this semester. However, I did want you to know that I am enjoying your blog, and I hope to be able to comment more sometime. I too have had my share of funks and depressions since my husband died. I try to keep busy which is easy to do Monday through Friday, not so easy on vacations and weekends. But your advice about shaking things up a bit and doing the opposite is excellent. It’s just not easy to do.

    • No worries, Carla; just glad you’re reading. I can well imagine you’ve had some good deep funks since your husband passed. My hope is that they happen farther and farther between as time passes.

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