Sometimes you just have a really bad day. On these lowest of low occasions, your first and strongest impulse is to release all your emotions, allowing them to pour from your soul, hoping to unburden yourself from sadness. For myself, I feed this impulse by crying – crying vigorously, eyes swelling, mouth gasping for air.
While crying can feel appropriate, tears can leave you soaking in your own sorrow. A good sobbing often only leads to a blotchy face, red eyes, dehydration, physical and emotional exhaustion, and, worst of all, rampantly running mascara.
Monday was one such day for me. It had already been a rough morning and drastically worsened at 12:30 p.m. I was at physical therapy for post-ACL surgery, when my therapist remarked how my leg was rather swollen, six weeks out of surgery. Following her insistence, I checked into Health Services with a potential blood clot.
On the walk over, I let loose. Calling my parents, I explained between sobs that you can instantly die from a blood clot if it reaches your heart, lungs, or brain. Even when I wasn’t catastrophically thinking of death, it still sucked. ACL recovery is difficult – the last thing I needed was a setback.
After my visit to Health Services, I was sent to University Hospital’s emergency room for further evaluation. In the emergency room bathroom, I looked in the mirror – my eyes were ridiculously swollen and any trace of makeup was long gone. The sight of my reflection caused me to laugh.
I have never been one to take anything too seriously, including myself. I always like to find the amusement in life. This quality was validated when my younger host sister, with whom I lived while studying abroad in Australia, told me I taught her to learn to laugh at herself and never take herself too seriously.
So looking in the mirror, I couldn’t help but laugh at my blotchy, swollen face. And this was my first trip to the ER, so I may as well have some fun, right?
My friend joined me and the waiting game began. We cracked jokes in the lobby, wishing we could prank call people, except we had no reception. Our amusement only heightened once we were in an examination room, separated from other patients by mere curtains. My friend awkwardly helped me into the gown and then wheeled around our partition as I timed her.
We couldn’t control ourselves when an upper middle-aged couple moved in besides us. The woman apparently hurt her arm “wrestling” her boyfriend. Yeah, okay, I guess that’s what they’re calling it these days. The nurse asked the woman if she smoked cigarettes or marijuana. The woman sassily responded, “You ask too many questions.” Her boyfriend interjected one word, “Both.”
Eventually, my friend had to leave and suddenly I was alone again. Nervousness crept into my mind – the test results were taking a while. But the urge to dance took over as I listened to Lady Gaga. Sitting on the hospital bed, waving my arms in the air, a smile spread across my face once again.
The wise words of Kid President motivated me to retain my cheerful mood, “We could cry about it, or we could dance about it.” So I kept on dancing.
Crying can feel great, but if we continue crying, we only drown in our own sadness. Sadness doesn’t foster progress and crying doesn’t solve problems. Dancing and laughing relieve the stress and sadness. We are no longer bogged down, but built up. Positive thinking leads to positive results, whereas crying leads to the dreadful “woe is me” attitude.
Through laugher, I was able to come to terms with my situation. Eavesdropping on the adjacent patient, my laughter was strengthening, readying me to face whatever was to come. I can’t go so far as to say that crying is weak, but it doesn’t make you feel as strong as laughter.
Thankfully, my physical therapist was overly cautious and I am blood clot free. After a rollercoaster of an emotional day, I continued to laugh about my time at the hospital. Despite it all, I maintained my feel-good attitude, breeding positivity in what could have been a very negative situation. Best of all, that night, I collapsed into bed, falling asleep with a smile.