When Feeling Moody Isn’t Just a Bad Mood
Published on: October 29, 2019
We all go through moody moments, but sometimes these emotions start to become more regular and can be a sign of a more serious issue. Here is how one mother has helped herself and is now teaching her daughter about feelings.
By Cara Mayega.
As she stomped across the room, my five-year-old screamed, “I’m never talking to you AGAIN!” before slamming the door on me. I had committed the ultimate crime by denying her to wear her swimsuit and a tutu to the mall. She loves to push my buttons and the boundaries of good fashion sense to get attention – she doesn’t love when I put my foot down. She’s my daughter – feisty, stubborn and moody – just like me.
Only as I get older, I realize there is a big difference between being moody and emotional – and that black cloud that hangs over you when a bad mood turns into something more serious. I am unfortunately only too familiar with depression and the warning signs leading up to a bad episode. Depression is an illness that has swept through my family for years, my mother, sister, and I regularly needing the intervention of doctors to help us get to the other side.
In my twenties, I would regularly go through periods of needing Zoloft or Cognitive Behaviour Therapy. Once I moved to Asia in my thirties, I tried alternative treatments such as St John’s Wort or hypnotherapy. I am grateful that pregnancy and newborns never triggered my depression as I expected it too – I put a lot of that down to my ability to understand myself and my moods better.
Just as I monitor my physical health, I now watch my mental health just as carefully. It’s hard at first. Physical symptoms of poor health are so much easier to spot, dry skin, dull eyes, hair fall, and even body temperature. We are all hyper-aware of these signs thanks to the marketing of beauty and wellness products. Signs of poor mental health can easily be hidden, but we need to understand them too.
Monitoring and managing my moods is a daily priority for me. I often feel like slamming the door and storming out of my stressful life as a single mum – but that is not an option.
At the end of a long day of door slamming, a few glasses of wine to numb my stress level sound like a great option – but I know it’s not, it’s only going to exasperate the situation and fuel my emotions which are already inflamed.
What I am learning to do instead is stop. Stop the noise and the chatter in my head. Listen to how I am feeling and then record it. I do this every day. Regardless of my mood. No matter where I am. When I climb into bed, I record my overall mood in an app. This simple exercise has been a game-changer for me. I no longer allow my bad feelings to go unchecked for days or weeks until they take over. I can quickly nip them in the bud if I see a trend of bad moods for a week or so. I can course correct and take action before they take over.
Some of these actions are as simple as getting some sun (Vitamin D is my favorite mood enhancer), or connecting with my family, getting more sleep or just going for a walk to decompress. I no longer let the steam build up until I crack – I release it regularly. Just like my daughter does.
There are lots of mood monitoring apps available, or you can note it down on a pad or whiteboard. Watch for trends of bad moods or anger. Learn what you are doing right when the moods are positive and try to bring more of that into your life.
At five years old, my daughter is far too young to comprehend the impact of her moods. She is still understanding basic emotions like anger or sadness. We are working on making her more aware of how she is feeling, which I hope will help her as she navigates life. In the meantime, I expect many more slammed doors and tears as she releases that frustration daily. Every time she slams a door – I remind myself that it’s better out than in.
Image courtesy of the author.
About the Author
Cara Mayega is an Aussie expat in Thailand. She juggles being a single mum with a demanding career. She has learned to never say no to a good kid’s club and is not afraid to call Mama noodles “dinner.” Cara is also the founder of the “Solo Parenting Southeast Asia” Facebook group.
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