I was thinking today about the various things that people tell you, to help you through a sticky patch; to encourage you, or simply to impart the pearls of wisdom which are the result of years spent rolling the gravel in their mind into something prettier.

The following are a short list of my favourites:

* Go and read a book.

Because a book is the best hope you have of understanding other people.

*Listen to the Woman’s Hour podcasts if you can’t sleep.

*Walk. Get outside, get the wind in your face, and remember how great bit huge the world is.

And viciously blow away those cobwebs. With a hoover if needs be.

*Swear. Swearing is seriously underrated. The resounding satisfaction of a well-timed swear word should not be sneezed at. Especially four letter ones heavy on plosives.

*Call someone. Anyone.

The chances are, they will make you feel better. Either by being helpful, or by prompting you to remember all the reasons you are glad you are not them, and thus, feel a bit smugger about who you actually are.

*Half of everything that happens to you is luck. The key to getting the other half is turning up.

*When all else fails, really fails, and you don’t feel as if anything will ever be ok ever, ever again, go to sleep.

The chances are, you are exhausted, and have no perspective left. Have a good, long, undisturbed sleep.

And please, please be kind to yourselves. The neighbours who live down the road and have a parrot sitting in their living-room window have just affixed a SAD lamp to its cage, and that doleful picture has made me certain that it is now autumn, all drawn in nights and cold hands. So please, for the sake of the depressed parrot, be nice to yourself.

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