Here’s a little exercise for you. Imagine you’re a doctor. Your patient tells you that in the past few days they’ve:
- Filled up with gas and driven away from the pump with the fuel cap unreplaced and still dangling.
- Knocked over half a cup of coffee in a cafe.
- Squeezed liquid soap onto their toothbrush, instead of toothpaste.
What would you diagnose?
Well, to save you reaching for the medical encyclopaedia, let me explain. All three of these ‘symptoms’ have recently been exhibited either by me (the first two) or Alex (the third – Sorry to give away your secrets AC).
In fact, all we’re both suffering from is a rather nasty cold.
But I was thinking about this earlier today as I falteringly made my way along the street to get myself a coffee (yes, which I then promptly sent flying).
When you get a cold, there’s little you can do other than grit your teeth and get on with things, safe in the knowledge that you’ll get over it in a few days. Although they’re unpleasant, colds are generally just temporary.
We see colds in this way, but I wonder why it’s so difficult to have a similar degree of detachment to periods of low mood?
When – as they do – they come, it seems all too easy to convince yourself that you’re going to stay that way for good.
However, you and I both know (don’t we?) that things almost always get better, even though this may take its time.
Our family used to say “Three days to come, Three days to stay, Three days for a cold to go away”.
A little glib it may be, but perhaps there may be value in thinking about mood disorders in a similarly less-permanent way?