When You're Feeling Down

Written by Renée Miller

We have all experienced periods in our lives when we have not felt our best— emotionally or spiritually. These are times when it seems that we’re merely going through the motions rather than truly living the wondrous life heaven has handed us.

We trudge through activities that once brought us joy and delight, lumbering along like a tired rhinoceros. We grudgingly encounter those who give our lives meaning, as if we are nasty, tight-lipped school marms. (Or worse yet, we avoid our friends and love ones altogether!) We sludge through work that previously fueled our imagination and gave our day purpose, as if we have been consigned to a life of toiling not only by the sweat of our brown, but by the sweat of our soul as well. Tears rest close to the surface, and we feel and stay isolated and alone.

Even God feels distant or absent. When these periods come into our lives, we are quick to run to the doctor for a prescription, or to sleep, eat or drink more than we should.

Melancholy is another word for “the blues.” It is a word so archaic it doesn’t even appear in many computer thesauri. But melancholy aptly names that feeling when it seems that a gray cloud looms above us. Melancholy is a kind of short-term episodic malaise—sort of like a “bad hair day” that extends beyond 24 hours—and usually passes in a few days. Melancholy is not clinical depression, a condition that is often long-term or chronic. Clinical depression requires professional assistance and oftentimes medication. Melancholy is rather that state of being moody, blue or listless.

Despite the fact that it’s really not too serious, melancholy is something we would much rather do without. We try to avoid periods of melancholy, or eliminate them as quickly as possible. Let me suggest instead that times of melancholy can be a gift of interiority. In other words, they can help us go inside ourselves to find there the undiscovered gems of our own soul. If we seek to avoid them or rid ourselves of them too quickly, we miss the deep encounter with the Holy One that waits for us inside the silence of our soul.

During periods of melancholy, nurture and pamper yourself by releasing yourself from guilt. Instead take time to sit with God. In that solitude with the Holy One, let your tears flow freely and empty the contents of your heart without apology or restraint. Then when the cloud of melancholy passes, you will find that you have become more deeply a part of the heart of heaven, and surprisingly your soul will feel as if it has been fed by the experience.

Tip To Try: Make a Melancholy Moments Plan

On a sheet of paper, note the things that you will do when you experience a period of melancholy in your life. Include ideas for nurturing and pampering, as well as time to be still with God in interior prayer. Include time for inner reflection, and perhaps, journaling. Take time for walks and sleep and anything else that you believe will assist you in reaping the inward benefits of these melancholy periods in your life. Keep your Melancholy Moments Plan in an easily accessible place and use it when you wake one morning and feel a gray cloud descending.


Copyright ©2007 Renée Miller