Mental health tips from babies
Are you old and cold? Is your flesh toxic from living too deep underwater with hardly any oxygen? That's how I've been feeling.
Normally when I go to write this section, I scan back over what I've been thinking about for the last week. But when I'm anxious I get really stressed and latch on to the one thing and obsess about it, and it means I haven't really thought about anything this week, not a single other thing, and since you don't want to read about my work stresses, we're at a bit of an impasse. (It also makes me a very boring conversationalist, so be grateful we weren't at any parties together.)
I babysat my baby niece on the weekend and I noticed that when she was crying and upset, she lifted her hands up and away from all the toys and books and distractions I had out, and only when she was calmed down and smiling did she start reaching out for them and being curious again.
I have this theory that we can get tips on our own mental health from looking at babies, because they make zero attempt to hide their distress.
Like, when a kid is tired, they scream and throw a tantrum, and we know it's just because they're tired, but they don't know it, and they won't go to bed. And when you had a bad night's sleep, and by complete coincidence everything today is garbage, you have to remember that you're probably as strongly affected by tiredness as the kid throwing an absolute tantrum.
And I think there's a relationship between distress and small, mean, curled-inwardness, and happiness and ease, expanse, curiosity, a sense of spaciousness. I know I'm at my most self-absorbed when I'm at my most depressed. I feel like this should be tied up with a satisfying conclusion, but I don't have one! I'm a self-absorbed anger-ball right now! Go read about Mount Sunflower!
This piece was originally published in The Whippet #24 – subscribe to get the next one in your inbox!
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