I sat in a café the other day and overheard a phone conversation a man had with a friend. I sometimes pretend-listen to music when I am at a café while working. Simply because I love to hear what people have to say, especially at this little particular café. The man who sat next to me initially spoke to the waiter telling him that a friend of his recently got diagnosed by his therapist with an “emotional cold”. He explained that he has been seeing this therapist for many years now and he had to schedule an appointment the other day because he was simply dragging his body around like a kid in trouble while examining his life and the world through dark- colored glasses. He added that he felt hopelessness, inadequacy, self-doubt and social dread. His house started to become really messy while he just laid on the couch and looked like a sad version of himself. And then out of a sudden, it stopped raining, the clouds parted, the sun came out and the sky turned blue again.
The waiter looked at him puzzled raised an eyebrow but kept listening. “I felt better. Even great. Out of a sudden, I had so much energy again. I remembered that I have my friends, family, and my health and all is good,” he added. The waiter asked, “How can this be? How can you feel so low for a while but ultimately be just fine?” and while wiping some crumbs off the table, he added, “well, maybe this was just this emotional cold your therapist suggested after all.” Wiping crumbs off my keyboard, I thought about if emotional cold could indeed be a thing. Is this natural?
This made me think that we do live in an era of increased mental health awareness. Everybody seems to have a therapist on speed-dial. I guess the difference between real depression and emotional cold would be that one can easily “snap out” of the latter but it takes a long time to deal with the former and/or medication is required. I get the emotional cold sometimes when things are out of my control, I cannot change them but I worry about it. What usually helps me is, I pinpoint what it is that bothers me (sometimes it is literally just the workload for school or planning my son’s Halloween Birthday Party). Then I usually find a balance between nurturing my “cold” and letting it run its course but without indulging in it too much. I simply just put one foot in front of the other. It usually never lasts very long which is good. Sleeping, general relaxation, meditation and talking to family and friends help me. For me, the goal is to find something positive to build on while having a perspective when I am down and to give my body and mind a little pause when it clearly demands it.
I typed most of this while the man spoke to the waiter. He finished his coffee and croissant, gave me a little nod, then left. The waiter cleaned the table and received a phone call when I was about to leave.
“Oh, Mark, how are you doing? What is going on? Anything exciting happening? How are the kids? How is Lisa?
Yep, I got your email two days ago saying that you are going away and that you will never come back. I thought it was a joke. Ottawa is so nice. Sorry, I just did not have the time to send you an email back. I am so busy these days. I know, I should have sent you a quick reply.
What do you mean you are traveling and not coming back? What about Lisa and the kids? Is it for your job? Did you finally get that promotion? Where are you going? Can I come and visit you? What do you mean Lisa and the kid’s stay in Ottawa? Well, initially with your new job you will be very busy but eventually, you will settle down. Maybe your family will join you. I guess I will visit you then. I will miss you like crazy, Mark! What the hell, what about our book club and the meetings?
What do you mean you won’t have internet? You know there are internet cafés, right? There won’t be internet where you are going? Where are you going? What’s with all the secrecy. When are you leaving? Okay, you don’t know exactly but you know it is very soon. Well, this sounds all crazy, Mark. Seriously.
Yes, I do listen. I listened to every word you said. We are friends for over 30 years. Mark, are you in some kind of trouble? Do you need money? Do you need help?
Okay, you don’t need money, you don’t have internet, you don’t have a computer…. you cannot call or email me; you might as well be dead, buddy. Come on, give me some sort of hint. Yeah, I love you, too, but c’mon. What’s with all the emotional love-you-stuff anyway?”
Mark hung up.