Self-help for desperate days

I’m having one of those days that make me feel like everything is falling apart. I’ve experienced severe back pain for a couple of days (and on and off for a year, but not this bad), am in a sad place, and generally not my usual self.

You know what I mean, and I know you know. There’s GOT to be more people like me out there.

It is one of the days where I feel extremely lonely, even in crowded spaces, extremely vulnerable, even (or especially) to strangers, and extremely helpless, like living someone else’s life and not quite getting the knack of it. This often comes out of the blue, and physical pain is a trigger that hardly ever misses for me.

If you know what I’m talking about (and please tell me you do), here’s my advice.*


  1.  Put on work-out clothes. And I do not mean the shiny nice one’s you put on to look good even in the gym. I mean the old, ratty jogging clothes that are comfortable, warm enough and don’t need special care. It’s YOU who needs special care right now, so stop worrying about outer appearance for the moment.
  2. Go for a run.** There is no excuse not to in the state you are in right now. You have nothing to lose, your pain will not get worse, and if it doesn’t get better, at least you’ve tried. It doesn’t matter whether it’s raining cats and dogs, freezing or very hot, it doesn’t need to be a long run, it doesn’t matter whether you’re in bad shape. None of this matters. What matters is YOU.
  3. Run to a place you like to look at. For me, it’s a little park not too far from my house, with a tiny lake and large trees. It can be the beach, a street of old houses, whatever. It just needs to make you feel good. And connected. You’ll know the place.
  4. Put on your iPod/discman/mp3-player. Put on music that makes you smile, that makes you tingle all over, that gives you goosebumps. For me, Mika’s Grace Kelly does it – choose your weapon. Put it on full volume.
  5. When you need a break (and also if you don’t need one), find a place to do some stretches. Do not worry whether other people are looking at you. If you do Yoga, do some Yoga moves, like the heroine, or the tree. BREATHE. Take it all in. Look at life moving on around you.
  6. When you are back home, let down your guard, if you haven’t already done so. Let it all in. Acknowledge what’s causing you pain, acknowledge the anger, fear and sadness, cry. Try to look at it as just another part of your life. It is not worth more or less than all the other parts. It is neither good nor bad. It’s simply a part of you. And, if I may add, it will help you grow.
  7. Take a HOT shower. We’re talking very hot. Put on music on full volume, and sing (you have to mean it). Do not worry about what the neighbours will think or say. Make this last as long as needed (this really means something coming from someone who’s been working on water scarcity for the last 4 years).
  8. Share your experience with someone. A parent, a friend, a spouse, it doesn’t matter. Make a call, meet up for coffee. Share your pain, and experience that you are lovable in spite of it. Don’t worry – you are.


And please let me know how it worked out for you.


* I’m mostly talking to the ladies. Sorry, guys, but I really don’t know whether this will work on you. You are welcome to try; make sure to tell me how it went.

** I really think you should run. You can try another sport, but practising something so ancient and, for lack of a better word, human, really puts your feet back on earth.


One thought on “Self-help for desperate days

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