Feeling Blue

I am myself feeling quite cheerful, but I notice some others aren’t. ‘It is a wet and windy Saturday, don’t we have a right to our gloom?’ they ask. I know that whatever I answer will be wrong, so I’ll simply make a few observations addressed to no one in particular.

English has a wonderful repertoire of phrases to describe everything from a mild lowering of spirits to clinical depression: feeling glum, feeling blue, a bit down, a fit of the blues, a touch of black dog, down in the dumps, in the doldrums, an attack of the glooms, and so on and so forth. The only antonym given in my Thesaurus is ‘cheerful’, yet when we are feeling glum, the last thing likely to cheer us is someone who is cheerful. We feel their optimism as a personal slur on our despondency, their brightness as an insult to our gloom. The truth is, apart from those who suffer from depression (which is a real and terrible illness), most of us are quite content to be glum sometimes. We wear our dejection as a badge of honour. See how I suffer, how wretched I am, how awful life is to me! Things can’t possibly improve. It is all dark, dark, dark!

Alternatively, we might say, ‘Look at me, me, me’ . . . and there, unless I am very much mistaken, is the clue to understanding why glumness can be so attractive. It puts the spotlight on ourselves, makes us the object of our own pity and safely insulates us from those horribly cheerful people who whistle and sing through all life’s little mishaps. It is an uncomfortable contrast, isn’t it? If you are feeling down this morning, it will probably make you feel worse. I apologize (sort of), but there’s just a chance it may make you feel better. I hope so.

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6 thoughts on “Feeling Blue”

  1. Yes, there may be ‘horribly cheerful’, but there is also ‘beautifully cheerful’! And for someone just recently from surgery, you are doing not too badly in that field.

  2. Personally, whenever I’m in a dark space, I itch to spend time around one or other of my joyful friends – I find they rub off on me, and I leave in a much better state than when I arrived, having not detracted from their own joy – and feeling very grateful! But perhaps that is why joyful is not listed as an antonym along with cheerful? A forced cheeriness – “you will be cheery because I am, and if I am you have no right not to be” is hugely insulting, no matter what the reason for one’s shabby mood, because it pays no respect to the uniqueness of the individual, or the validity of the experience. Whereas a joy that is “owned”, lived in, and not forced, brings light to the darkness.

    Perhaps the difference is also in what Stan says above – horribly cheerful and beautifully cheerful – the latter certainly resonates with joy, for me.

    Blessings on your recovery!

  3. I am not sure that the various “stages” are as isolated and as disconnected as perhaps they are considered. I am also not sure about the focus on dejection. Whatever stage we might find ourselves in and however we may address things I think we should realise that suppression will almost certainly lead to depression. Let us care enough to be aware and alert and willing to engage with our friends, neighbours and family who might need help to avoid the suppression.

  4. There are a few phrases which express being cheerful: On top of the world, on cloud nine, in seventh heaven, but I agree there are far more that express gloom and despondency; or is it because we have more reason to use those expression.
    I’m told that Monday coming is officially known as blue Monday because of the anti climax after Christmas and the New Year and statistically people are at a low ebb.
    If only being cheerful were infectious, the world could do with a pandemic 🙂
    So pleased to hear that you are on the mend Sr Catherine 🙂 it warms the cockles of my heart – Woops there I go again, being cheerful ^.^

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