Can a Bad Mood be a Good Thing?

by | Dec 14, 2017 | Blog, Grief | 0 comments

Climbing up the mood ladder one rung at a time

It is a general condition of we humans, that when we feel bad we don’t want to do as much.  Flu got you down?  Not a good day to clean the house.  Last day of finals?  Probably not the day to start a new DIY project.  Conversely, the opposite is true.  When you are in a great mood, it seems like there is nothing you can’t do, no one you can’t help, and you are excited to get to it!     And in between lies a continuum of moods and corresponding levels of energy.  The better you feel, the more energy, the easier it is to take on the world!

Living with a chronic illness such as diabetes requires a lot of energy and planning.  Thinking about the impact of every choice you make, every day for the rest of your life is a daunting reality.  For all of us, at some point, it all seems too big to tackle and we found ourselves in a “bad mood”.  It may be sadness, worry, loneliness, hopelessness, anger, fear, resentment or any other emotion, but it isn’t pleasant.  No fun at all and those around us are likely to make sure we know how much fun we aren’t (“Cheer up!”).   Which just makes the problem worse and adds more pressure to be “better”.    For me, there was a time when I was very hard on myself for not being “happier”.  I thought anything other than courage, joy and positive attitude was a failure.    I have learned it isn’t so straightforward.

Mood is a tricky thing as it means different things to different people and no one can tell you what yours is.  Others might guess, but as I learned in nursing school only the patient knows how they feel – whether its pain or their emotions.  There are several scales to help quantify that info from the worst to the best, but only you can truly put your moods in the exact right order. For the purposes of this post, I’m going to select a few moods and associate them with a level.

The Mood Ladder

Best – Happy and joyful – Like Tony the Tiger – I feel GrrrrrEAt!

Better – Enthusiastic – very positive and excited – “OMG Can you believe it!?”

Good – Hopeful – encouraged – “I think this might work”

Neutral – Calm and quiet – not happy or sad

Bad – Frustrated and sad – “I don’t like this”  “This sucks”

Worse – Angry and vengeful – “This isn’t fair.”  “Its your fault”

Worst – depressed and worthless – “I don’t care”.  “Nothing can make this better”

Everyone wants to be happy and joyful all the time – right?  But if you find yourself on the bottom rungs of the mood ladder, happy and joyful seem an impossible leap.  Which they likely are.  But what if we change our perspective that being angry is bad, to being angry is better than being depressed?  Its a step in the right direction from unable to get out of bed to punching your pillow.   One rung up the ladder!   And how about congratulating ourselves when we move from kicking and screaming mad to doing it even though you are frustrated and don’t want to.  That is progress!!!  Maybe following a diet is not your favorite thing in the world, but when it becomes second nature and a non-event, you are climbing!!  One more step up the ladder!   You learn a new shortcut in your disease management routine!  Relief!  Less stress.  One more rung and so on.  Or that may be as high as you get for now.  That is OK.

Each step up the ladder gives us a bit more energy and a bit more courage.  Your moods will likely go up and down the ladder so don’t beat yourself up.  A good friend of mine, (thank you Varsha) employs the phrase “Strive for progress not perfection”.  Truer words were never spoken.    You may be in a bad mood, but is it better than you worst mood?  Can you go up just one level, even if still negative but at least moving to a more energetic state?  Perfection doesn’t exist, so don’t beat yourself up if you don’t attain it.  No one can!  Take some time to notice which rung you are on.  Pat yourself on the back if you have come up a level.  Get help if you are stuck at the bottom. And offer a hand to someone on a lower rung if you are at the top.


Patricia %



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