This doodle has kind of a funny history.
I was sitting in a lecture, doodling my classmate. Then I got self-conscious and realized: what if he noticed and thought I was majorly creepy? So I drew a beard onto the picture, and different hair, to camouflage it.
In general, what was going through my head at the time was that I had sent a text to a friend that was a joke, but in retrospect wasn’t very funny, and I was starting to think it could be construed as kind of offensive, and I was really getting sad about the whole thing. I was thinking of coping mechanisms to do to ease the psychic pain, such as chopping carrots for a salad (the crude picture in the purple circle).
Coping mechanisms sometimes work, but sometimes they don’t. We don’t have perfect control of our feelings. Looking back on this drawing, it was crazy for me to remember how bad I felt about the little texting incident, how real my despair was in that moment, and now, how little I remember of it. My friend ended up not being offended at all. If I didn’t have this doodle, I’d probably have forgotten the episode entirely.
Life is made up of tons of little despairs, and we do our best to cope, but emotional lows and physical lows have a lot in common. There’s stuff you can do and it might help, but it’s not all in your control.
Some of these thoughts were inspired by Allie Brosh, her NPR interview and two comics: Depression Part 1 and Depression Part 2.
A good book about coping is Adaptation to Life. It’s a remarkable study of a group of men from age 18 to old age, and how their lives went.
The main take-home from the book is that life “success” depends on building good coping skills. Because bad things happen to all people, and we need productive ways to deal with them other than eating a bunch of ice cream (I’ve been doing that lately!).