But sometimes we come upon something on our own, a random strategy that helps us with our depression or anxiety, and having successfully applied it, we know that it works for at least one case study. If it lifts our dopamine or serotonin, changes the way we feel, why wouldn't it help at least a few others?
Not to tell all, but I had a bad day, and I felt really badly, and I couldn't shake it, obsessed about what had happened far too long. This can happen to anyone and probably does, but knowing that time heals (most of the time) didn't help at all. Neither did any of my tried and true CBT interventions.
Talking to FD and my friends, which usually helps SO much, only helped a little. No emotional energy left to write (not wanting to revisit the material, that's for sure), I was frustrated and out of steam. Then, out of nowhere, I remembered something.
Maybe the writers of Blythe Danner's I'll See You in My Dreams remembered it, too.
|I'll See You in My Dreams|
The movie is all about Ms. Danner, and if you've been missing her, you won't in this film, she is all of it. This is about aging and loss, and that's as far as we'll go with the spoilers, except to say that at some point she is discussing her first career as a singer with the pool guy.
Yes, there's a pool guy, and yes, very handsome (Martin Star).
He asks her, "When did you stop singing?"
She doesn't know.
That's all you'll get about this film for today.
So here's the thing about singing. It does change the way you feel, as does listening, but it is active, not passive,like listening tends to be. It focuses the mind with several senses, not only one, especially if you try to sing well, by ordering the lips to work in a certain way, the chest to breathe deeply, to hold then release the breath, the words, with exactitude.
To say that song is an avenue of expression is redundant, but if it is, why don't we sing more often? We're fearful of being heard, obviously, and being laughed at, as if anyone really cares or would. Like sport, where spectating is the next best thing, we listen to and admire Adelle, Renee, so many others. We sing along and cry, perhaps, transcend our realities, dissociate from what is troubling us. That is what it is, really, when we're engaged like that, dissociating from problems. We all have them, and creating something new, when we do something creative, such as sing or sing along, puts us totally, consciously in charge. Except when we hit a wrong note. But we're not Adelle, not Renee, not even, dare we say it, Barbra. So sure, there will be a wrong note or more.
So there I am, can't remember exactly where, probably in the car where they say most people sing, no, in a parking lot looking for the car, and I'm actively searching for a song to lift me up, and I remember Barbra's Smile, everyone's favorite, and I begin to sing and it lifts my spirits some, but not nearly enough. In fact, the song makes me a little worse, because it is about feeling sad and how smiling makes us feel better (believe it or not this is true). But a person has to really work at smiling when it doesn't feel natural, when the feeling isn't there.
This is a do it thing, however, and if you do force your face into a smile and hold it, this, too, can produce a little change in the brain, enough of one that many depressed people who go to work and have to smile because they won't sell something if they don't, or people will ask too many questions if they don't, will report that their days, while faking it, can feel pretty good.
So smiling is an excellent cognitive behavioral exercise, and Barbra's song is spot-on.
But it's sad!
I switched to happy songs, literally peppy tunes, which helped enormously. Zippity Do Dah and High Hopes--Oops There Goes Another Rubber Tree Plant, and a few slow ones (Where is Love, Oliver) some of my all time favorite songs.
And yes, I have been suggesting to patients that they do this, find happy songs. Although crying feels good, and surely, we can't help it, we have to cry, it is irrepressible; but if it is at all possible, if we can get out of our sadness, pull ourselves out of that dark place, lift our own spirits without waiting for the Lexipro to kick in, then there's no better feeling, no better facial expression, than a smile.
Because at some point, as the queen of Broadway croons, What's the use of crying?
Oh, just a few.
Lyrics by Ray Gilbert
Performed by James Baskett
© 1945 Walt Disney Music Company
My, oh my, what a wonderful day
Plenty of sunshine headin' my way
Mister Bluebird's on my shoulder
It's the truth, it's actual
Ev'rything is satisfactual
Wonderful feeling, wonderful day, yes sir!