“I’m having a bad day,” I complained to my friend Memphis Paul, my friend and co-host of our mildly successful podcast “Talking Paragraphs.”
I had him on speakerphone as I went through a drive-through window. I ordered a strawberry-banana smoothie. It’s one of those beverages that sounds healthier than it really is. I ordered it anyway.
My brain is in knots, I explained to Paul. Sunday night, I became obsessed with something and my brain wouldn’t let it go until almost 8 a.m. I ended up taking a sick day.
The obsession was a paperback book. I wanted to read a few chapters before I nodded off. I couldn’t find it. I tore up the apartment. I looked in all the usual spots. I finally found it wedged between my mattress and the wall. By the time I found it, my heart was racing and I was so angry I could have chewed nails.
I was in the midst of a panic attack. I didn’t recognize it. I was slow to take my medicine to abate the symptoms. And thus I ended up tossing and turning and staring at the ceiling until it was almost time for work.
The causes are varied and complex. The bottom line is sometimes my brain doesn’t work the way it should and the emotions I’m feeling don’t match with the reality I’m living.
I tried to regroup during the day. Then a malingering depression settled in like a thunderstorm. All the usual thoughts — how worthless I am, how stupid I am, how poor a human being I am — rattled my brain.
Finally, I managed to rise from bed and go out for some food, including the aforementioned smoothie.
Paul, my good friend, listened as he usually does.
He replied in his mild Tennessee drawl. He recalled an incident a week or so ago when I had him on speakerphone in the car.
I spilled my smoothie on the passenger-side mat. I cursed as I beat the mat against a tree to get the milk and ice off the rubber surface.
Paul then asked me, “Did you manage to get inside your apartment with your strawberry banana drink?”
In fact, I did, I replied.
“Well,” he said, “that is progress.”
I love my friends.
Daniel P. Finney wrote for newspapers for 27 years before being laid off in 2020. He teaches middle school English now. He writes columns and podcasts for ParagraphStacker.com, a free, reader-supported website. Please consider donating $10 a month to help him cover the expenses of this site.
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Hang in there. You are a worthy human being.
You, my friend, have some great friends! That speaks to your worth, as well.