Melancholy Baby

A lot of my bloggin’ buddies suffer from depression and other emotional challenges.

Like Picasso, I just have the occasional blue period.

We all do.  In my book, it’s not always a bad thing.  And apparently I’m not alone in thinking that it’s OK to be blue from time to time.

In today’s New York Times, there is an interesting article:

The Case for Melancholy

The article discusses the fact that, in today’s life, it seems we are all always expected to be happy.  Cheerful.  Perky.

“Bullshit,” the article states.  Metaphorically, of course.

Whatever happened to experiencing the grace of melancholy, which requires reflection: a sort of mental steeping, like tea? What if all this cheerful advice only makes you feel inadequate?

Yup.

I’m not, and the author is not, talking about clinical depression.  Just the fact that sometimes, quiet sad reflection is a good thing.

We don’t all have to be perky all the time.

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47 Comments

Filed under Adult Traumas, Advice from an Expert Patient, All The News You Need, Being an asshole, Friends, Health, Health and Medicine, Humor, Mental Health, Missing Folks, Picasso's Blue Period, Taking Care of Each Other, The Blues

47 responses to “Melancholy Baby

  1. Maybe it’s because I’m male, but I have no motivation for embracing melancholy. In fact, just the thought of it impels me to run the other direction, to seek a deterrent, I believe that this same effect may be the force behind creativity.

    Take Ernest Hemingway for example, he of the great ego and eccentric behavior. When he lost his creativity spark, perhaps he knew that his defense for melancholy was gone and he killed himself. I think too of the writer, Isaac Asimov, one of the most prolific writers of all time. He wrote or edited more than 500 books and an estimated 90,000 letters and postcards. His books have been published in 9 of the 10 major categories of the Dewey Decimal Classification. He literally (pun intended) could not stop writing.

    The antidote for melancholy doesn’t have to change the world but it does need to at least feel like progress. This effect was absent when I was a boy, but maturity and the reality of the competitive nature of life and its dangers changed me permanently. Bad stuff can and does happen. Maybe, psychologically, I sense that descent into sadness might be irrecoverable. Maybe, too, this is why I crave crossword and sudoku puzzles. And commenting on good thought-provoking blogs like this one. It feels like progress, like accomplishment.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hmmmm. I don’t know. Can one live without ever experiencing sadness? I’ve always thought that you need both — I certainly do. Without it, how do you keep perspective? And pulling oneself up out of it is rejuvenating! How can you not be sad for the world after yesterday’s attack in Paris, for example.

      I don’t know much about Hemmingway; his demons may have been true depression rather than melancholy. Like most women I know, I loathe the stuff he wrote — although having tried to write myself, I wonder if I would find his female characters less one dimensional (and perhaps even capable of something beyond sex and sammiches). I am not deeply interested in the answer, frankly. Too many books yet to read!

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  2. I suspect we all have these ups and downs. My best creative times are when I am a bit blue. Thank you for the article.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I love my melancholy. It makes me a more sensitive human being, & a better artist. I can do perky, & I love that state too, but melancholy is a sweet gift…

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Aren’t we supposed to experience the whole array of emotions? Growing up, back in the day, we loved to expound on our ‘down in the dumps’ days. And I still do!

    Liked by 2 people

    • YES WE ARE! I think this whole idea of being constantly happy is crazy. Sometimes, you just need to be blue to figure stuff out. I commented below to Michelle of SilkPurseProductions that I actually think that the increase in young suicide in the last 20 years or so may be linked to this. Kids think they’re supposed to be happy 24/7 and they aren’t. Of course, they don’t realize that nobody is.

      It is so nice to see you in this space. You were one of my very first bloggin’ buddies!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I thought about this a couple of month ago and decided that “melancholy” is the exact right word to describe the mood I get into sometimes. Ofttimes. Not ready to jump off the bridge, but not eager to dance and entertain strangers.

    Nice to know I’m not alone.

    Liked by 2 people

    • No, you’re not alone at all. I do wonder if we funny folks are more prone to it. I know sometimes I get myself out of the Blues by finding the funny.

      Like

  6. My life is an emotional rollercoaster… but better than just smooth sailing…

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! With so much actual clinical depression in the world and even in our own family it seems I am not allowed to be down with out an investigation into what’s wrong with me. Now I have the answer. Melancholy! I am just melancholy right now so cut me some some slack.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Any time, Michelle!

      I actually think this is one of the reasons that teenage depression and suicide are way up since we were kids. Because they all think they’re supposed to be happy 24/7. Ummmmm, nope.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Did you see the most recent Pixar film Inside Out? I didn’t but my wife took my daughters and said one of the themes is that it’s perfectly normal and healthy to have the blues. What a relief!

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Very insightful post and article! I’ve had my bouts of melancholy my entire life. I’d say in some cases I was flirting with depression (it runs in my family) I actually suffered from severe PPD after my son was born, so I know there’s a big difference. But there’s something soothing to me when I cry or feel sad. I’m very emotional so it doesn’t take much for me to cry.

    When I was taking medical classes, I remember my professor (a doctor) telling us that nowadays people think you have to be “happy” all the time or something’s wrong. So people run to the doc and ask for a pill. He said, what’s wrong with feeling blue now and then? Feeling sad is a part of life, a necessary part. We all have pain, sadness, loss so why do we not allow ourselves to feel it?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Your professor was sooooo right! So are you — there is a big difference.

      But I differ with you on crying. I get sad, but I hate to cry. It makes me feel like I’ve been hit by a truck. That never improves my mood (although sometimes I do cry anyway — yuck)!

      Like

      • Some people don’t cry easily. My husband rarely cries. I like to cry because it feels cathartic, like a release. This might surprise you but I cry at the drop of a hat. I used to get made fun of all the time as a child. Oh well, it’s who I am. Much too sensitive.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Men really do cry less frequently. I’ve seen my husband cry twice in 30 years. Wiring?

          I was a “cry-baby” as a kid (because i used to cry if I thought one of my siblings was going to hit me. I never got hit and they got in trouble. It was probably my earliest expression of brilliance.) But I stopped when I was bullied in grammar school. Learned to not let the assholes have the satisfaction.

          But movies get me every time. I cry at puppy and kitten videos, movies, cartoons, everything. I cry at blog posts (yours, often, dammit!). But that’s not the same deep misery coming out. I hate that because then my nose gets stuffy, my head gets stuffy and I can’t think my way out of the problem.

          Different strokes!

          Liked by 1 person

  10. Thanks for sharing this article. Fall usually puts me in a down mood. I really was sad and had a hard time in seeing the good in the world after the college shooting here in Oregon.
    The Germans have a name for it: Weltschmerz: translated: world-weariness. I’ve come to know it as a normal process of grief and wishing for a different kind of world. The good thing about grief is there is enlightenment at the other end. And that translates into doing our bit to make this a better place…like you do with this blog. Thanks Elyse.

    Liked by 1 person

    • What an incredibly nice thing to say, Barb.

      The shootings get to me too. Terribly. It makes me question our collective sanity as a nation. World weary is right. I think that’s exactly why I need to make fun of so much.

      Thanks again for probably the nicest thing anybody has said to me.

      Like

  11. Really good article … thanks for sharing. I agree completely!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Life takes us all up and down like a yo-yo …. so it’s normal, expected, indifferent, and yes, it can be a good thing. Good find!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. As long as you can reset, pull out of it, and learn or heal, then I’d say it’s normal. We have become a society of positive thinkers, there’s no room for ruminating. And often, some of our best ideas occur in the doldrums. (maybe we shouldn’t act on them, though–at least until we’re feeling more upbeat. Just saying….)

    Like

  14. Very true. And the occasional bout of melancholy makes the happy times that much more happy.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. There is a distinction. I get the “blues” occasionally. As I age I get perky a lot less often (and when I do I try to keep it to myself!). I have friends who are clinically depressed and I am grateful that my blue period will pass much faster and without chemicals.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. I, too, am one of those people for whom “depression” is really just melancholy — a healthy case of the blues. As I have family members who are clinically depressed, I very much appreciate the distinction. Well done. Thank you for making that distinction.

    Liked by 2 people

    • That’s exactly how I felt when I read the article, and why I shared it.
      One of my sisters was clinically depressed. But this article helped me realize that “depressed” and “blue” or “melancholy” are different. And it’s an important distinction.

      Liked by 1 person

  17. 1jaded1

    I wonder about people who are perky all the time…it seems impossible. What are they hiding? Because I am clinically depressed I can only imagine healthy blues. Thank you fod the interesting read.

    Liked by 2 people

  18. NotAPunkRocker

    Well, perfect timing for this. Will go read the article now, thanks for sharing it ❤

    Liked by 2 people

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