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Notes to self: Globetrotting writer Gaby Doman on feeling blue

Our columnist reflects on the everyday ups and downs of being a modern woman

Tabloid on Saturday

Yesterday, out of nowhere, a black cloud of a mood settled on me. I’m not sure if everyone gets them or not, but for me, they are characterised by a slight headache, a feeling of the colours of everything around me being washed out and a feeling of going through the motions in all I do — I can’t find joy in anything, no matter how much I tell myself I am lucky to be healthy, have great friends or whatever else that should cheer me up. Even chocolate doesn’t help.

OK, it wasn’t actually out of nowhere. It was because I was tricked into trailing after a friend who was shopping in MBK, a huge, horrible shopping centre in Bangkok that is full of tourists shopping for bargains. I loathe shopping at the best of times, but for some reason, MBK and, Deira City Centre in Dubai, raise my heart rate and make me feel faint. I’m convinced I have a phobia of malls.

Anyway, yesterday, when I recognised it, I decided to go for a walk in the sunshine to clear my head a little. As much as the natural mood-elevating properties the sun has, I was also perked up by the novel sights of an old man pushing a cart full of huge knives (presumably for sale) and a dog wearing boots. Bangkok can be odd at times. Anyway, that really helped.

Other tried and tested remedies for my dark moods are; a big sugary coffee, chatting with a friend about something silly and working out. I asked on Twitter what other people did, and their answers were all similarly simple; pet their dog, listen to happy music, take a long shower, create some art or eat a banana. It’s funny that it takes so little to make the mind temporarily happier — such a complicated organ can work so much differently just by stroking your dog for a while or sipping on a frappuccino!

I try and stay in tune with my mental health (as we all should) so that I can recognise whether my low periods are due to raging hormones (which make me think everyone hates me, eat a lot of chocolate muffins and cry a lot), the fact I haven’t eaten enough (which makes me want to cause bodily harm to strangers just for standing too close to me on the train), overtraining (which makes me want to cancel all my life’s plans and sit in a dark room), because of stress (which makes me hyperactive and fidgety) or something more. I am a little bit of a moody person and slightly over-dramatic sometimes (last week, I may or may not* have threatened to never get in touch with a friend again if he didn’t reply to my whatsapp), so there’s a lot of moodiness to analyse.

I must admit, I am terrible to my brain because I don’t really enjoy relaxing very much. Lying on a beach doing nothing makes me feel bored beyond reason while lie-ins make me feel guilty and depressed. That doesn’t mean to say I am very productive, but I do manage to fill my entire day up with personal training school, Thai school, the gym, work and evenings with friends. It’s only when I get my migraines, stress-related eczema and the like that I start to slow down a bit.

Last week, I even did a bit of sleepwalking, which happens to me when I am doing too much. Although it’s exhausting, it’s always quite funny to relay to other people; this time I got up out of bed to exercise. On previous times, I have poured imaginary drinks, used imaginary tills and remade my bed. It’s odd, because I can see what I am doing and remember it well, but at the time it seems as though I really need to do whatever I’m doing. Anyway, as funny as it is, it’s a good way to remind myself that sometimes I need to switch off. And, with that, I am going to close my laptop and grab a coffee.

*I did