Deborah Hill Cone

Deborah Hill Cone is a Herald columnist

Deborah Hill Cone: Just writing this down is making me feel more cheerful

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Sir John Kirwan. Photo / Greg Bowker
Sir John Kirwan. Photo / Greg Bowker

I had a bit of a bung week. And when things feel a bit bung, you just can't seem to care about anything but yourself and your own silly bung first world problems.

Which is annoying as then you start to bore yourself with your own banal bratty self-centredness, which makes you feel ashamed and consequently more bung.

Also, if you happen to write a column, you don't have much on your mind except your own life and although kind readers sometimes tell me "Oh I love it how you put in glimmers of yourself" I suspect it would be much more useful to read glimmers about global events than how my young son Bram, who has just started school, keeps wandering off from his class; or how my elderly father, who keeps having falls, won't accept help; or how I still wonder if I will ever feel normal going to the school picnic without a husband.

I can never work out why things go from chugging along quite normally to suddenly feeling bung.

When did that happen? One minute life is sort of solid and familiar and the next I get that alien-feeling, watching all the other people in my suburb going about their daily tasks like Richard Scarry's Busy Busy World, all blithe and capable.

I cannot fathom how everyone manages to treat the mechanics of living as such an effortless venture when I find it hard to even make breakfast.

To paraphrase the famous quote about the historian Thomas Macaulay, I wish I was as certain about anything as they seem to be about everything.

At times like this I feel like Lowly Worm. It does sometimes occur to me that maybe other people are also feeling bung and that perhaps you can't tell from the outside.

I can imagine after writing this I will get kind referrals to John Kirwan's website on depression or Mood Gym. Thanks in advance. Those are all good, but over time I've developed my own sort of procedure for dealing with my bungness until it passes.

My current system involves making myself perform mundane domestic tasks without thinking too much about it, like folding laundry. Also putting on my running shoes in an auto-pilot robotic sort of way, even though exercise is the last thing I want to do, and schlepping to a pump class. And if all else fails, patting Spotty and playing Scrabble on the iPad.

In between I am allowed to have a short designated crying session (one Nick Cave song worth) but then my method dictates I have to stop and take my fish oil and a cup of tea.

Actually, just writing this down is making me feel more cheerful. That's called the writing cure and anyone can do it.

Even with my recovery method, there is a frustrating Groundhog Day repetition to bungness. Every time I get bung I seem to have to remind myself of the same things all over again. It's infuriating. I grasped these lessons last time, yet now I seem to be back to learning them from scratch.

These insights will sound ridiculously commonplace when I write them down, yet every time I come to them in the midst of bungdom, it is as if I am learning them afresh.

All unhappiness comes from resisting the truth. Stop resisting. Let go of a need to try to change things. Live in the moment.

Aha, now I remember!

I should just walk a few steps over to the bookshelf and find the very thin paperback called Man's Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl, the Austrian psychotherapist who found answers among unimaginable suffering in the concentration camps.

"Being human always points, and is directed, to something or someone, other than oneself - be it a meaning to fulfil or another human being to encounter. The more one forgets himself - by giving himself to a cause to serve or another person to love - the more human he is."

Frankl also said the salvation of man is through love and in love. Deborah (smacks self on forehead), next time you're bung, please try to remember this.

Have a happy week.

- NZ Herald

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