Defeating the Grump?

Painting fun

Painting fun

I’m in a grump. I don’t know why. The sun is shining outside, I’m home with my boy, my daughter is going to a friend’s house for tea. Life is okay.

I’m a bit stressed about my daughter’s party in a couple of weeks, but that’s mostly being planned by the other mummy (although maybe that’s why I’m stressed!) I’m tired of being poorly and random bits of my body not working (my knee seized this morning and I trapped a nerve in my back on Sunday) but generally I have good health.

I have a lovely husband, two gorgeous children, I enjoy writing my books (well, okay, that’s not really true when I’m revising, as I am now, but – you know – I don’t hate it).

I have enough money to buy the weekly food and pay for the odd cup of coffee. We found the resources to buy my daughter a new bed (although I hate not earning for a living and am currently looking for a part time job). I get three days a week without the children to theoretically do my writing, although mostly I do housework. I survived my 2013 365 Challenge and wrote 285,000 words of which I’m quite proud. I even sell a book every now and then.

But, for all my blessings – and I do count them every day – I feel meh. Sad. I sigh a lot. Shout at the kids. Cry, even, when small things overwhelm me. I don’t feel depressed, just melancholy. And I don’t know how to fight it. In the old days I would have gone for a run, but since I injured my knee 18 months ago I struggle to walk the dog without feeling the after effects. Cleaning the house helps for a while, but it gets messy again so quickly it adds to the feelings of futility and adriftness.

Telling me about his painting

Telling me about his painting

I read to escape, but then I pick up a book like The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time and it magnifies my sorrow. Last night I dreamed about a remote hotel where all the staff had Asperger’s Syndrome; they’d been hired because they couldn’t lie and they didn’t like being with people so didn’t mind being by themselves for long periods of time. I have no idea if that’s true, by the way, I’m just basing it on the character in the book I’m reading. My dreams are all either high-drama chase sequences or depressing stories of loss and unhappiness.

I’m not what you’d call a happy person. I grew up with a man they nicknamed Morbid Mick. I try and see the positive in things but my default is to see what might go wrong and feel guilty about everything that does. For example, I cooked a lovely lasagne at the weekend for my father-in-law, with mince I took from the freezer. When I went to the fridge today I realised there was mince in there that now hovered on its sellby date. I cooked it anyway, but it smells a bit odd. I’ve been beating myself up all day for my stupidity. All Day. I mean, really?

I follow the blog of Valerie Alexander, author of Happiness as a Second Language. I have the book, too, although I’ve only read the first chapter. When I did I felt happy, and so stopped reading. I don’t have much staying power for self-help stuff. There always seems to be so much else that demands my attention instead (which has brought to mind that I haven’t phoned the doctors or the vets and there is a load of washing in the dryer and potatoes to peel for dinner and the dog needs walking and son asked to play playdough quarter of an hour ago…)

My brain is my biggest enemy. I over-think everything so generally I’m happier when I don’t think about things. But what to do when you’re stuck in a grump? Maybe it’s just the January blues, or the fact we can’t really afford to go on holiday because our daughter is now in school. Or that a holiday isn’t a holiday anyway anymore. I feel so sorry for myself it’s pathetic, especially as I don’t even know what could change for me to feel better. I feel like Shrek in Forever After, when he imagines life without wife and kids and finds out it’s not as great as he remembers it to be.

Ah well. It’ll all be alright tomorrow. No one died. What do you to get out of the grump?

16 thoughts on “Defeating the Grump?

  1. Well… your dream about the hotel.. that sounds like a short story right there. If you worked it up into something, would it make things feel better? At least on the self esteem front 😉

    That said, for what it’s worth, I’m feeling pretty meh at the moment too. Maybe it’s the time of year, sigh.



  2. It’s winter there isn’t it? It does get to you and seems like forever before it will be sunny again and the kids can be out from under you. While reading this I nodded along with you. When I had small kids I felt so many of the same things and was unable to get out from under that funk. You did some great things during the year, and I hope you can write just as much this year and I agree getting a part time job would be a great thing to do.

  3. Amanda, thanks so much for the shout out! Not trying to be self-promotional here at all, but if you’re this blue, it might help to read a little more of the book. You’re such a fast and prolific reader that each chapter wouldn’t take more than 15 minutes, and if you did one a week, you might see an idea or two that could bring about change. It would also help you teach happiness to your kids as a “native language,” so they don’t struggle as much with it later in life.

    Knowing you as I’ve come to through this blog and our interactions, I think the chapters that might help are Chapters 2, 3, 5, 6, 7, 9 and 10. Start with those, again — just one per week, and see if it makes any difference. And you can always reach out to me as needed.

    Warmest wishes, Valerie

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