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Souvenirs From The Abyss

Making The Best Of A Bad Day

Bad days. Nobody wants one, but they're bound to pop up now and then. They're unpleasant, uncomfortable, and unbelievably draining. Maybe you'll see one coming, or maybe one will sneak up on you... whether you're ready or not.

Bad days. We all have them. There's just no way around it.

Whether they stem from a headache, breakup, or fatal tragedy, bad days all have one thing in common: The Abyss.

The Abyss
The Abyss

What is The Abyss?

The Abyss is the state of mind you enter during a bad day. It's the dark thoughts you think, the low energy you feel, and the negative emotions you experience. Of course, your experience in The Abyss will be unique to yourself, but you already know this because you've been there before. Each step down leads to a decrease in energy and an increase in negativity. Hopelessness, fear, and anxiety start to spread as the light of happiness slips further away. As you venture lower into the depths of The Abyss, the more frightening your surroundings become.

Although they share similarities, not all bad days are created equally. Because of this, The Abyss consists of different levels. The lower the level, the less frequently you visit, but the more pain and suffering you feel. Similar to how your experience in The Abyss is unique to yourself, the frequency with which you visit each level is as well.

The Levels

While no trip into The Abyss is pleasant, the intensity of the experience varies greatly. The descent from its surface to its bottom contains a spectrum of emotion that ranges from slight annoyance to life altering trauma. As you sink lower, the psychological burden you face increases with each subsequent level. In other words, the deeper the dive, the darker the day.

During the unfortunate instances when you enter The Abyss, it's helpful to have a sense of where you're located within it. An awareness of your position will give you a much needed feeling of control and security, no matter what level you find yourself in. The Abyss will get darker and more disorienting the further you plunge, but even with this knowledge it's important to remember: Never underestimate the power of recognizing your surroundings, even if you can't see them.

Though not exhaustive, the following overview describes the characteristics and events associated with each level, starting with the most frequently visited...

1 In 10

The first and most familiar level of The Abyss sits just below its surface. You're no stranger to these parts, as the odds of winding up here on any given day are around 1 in 10 (hopefully less for you).

1 in 10

A trip here usually results in a headspace full of annoyance, frustration, and discomfort. Events that are associated with this level are by no means fun, but they are more closely related to inconveniences, rather than trauma. Think stomachaches, backaches, or headaches. Think gridlock traffic or a rough day at the office. Again, not fun, but these types of events aren't known to blindside you or induce shock when they happen. For the most part, they're bothersome situations that carry a dose of negativity with them.

With an occurrence rate of 1 out of every 10 days, you'll notice that reaching this level of The Abyss is actually a relatively common experience, and in fact, the majority of your trips into The Abyss will go no deeper than this.

But beware, because there are times when the negative energy of your emotional state is so dense that you're pushed past the bottom boundary of this somewhat sour space and into the deeper depths of a lower level...

1 In 100

As you cross the threshold into the next level of The Abyss, you notice some differences almost immediately. First and foremost, it's darker here. Coupled with the darkness, your literal and figurative outlooks are more bleak. Lastly, the negativity you experience is magnified by quite a large margin. Rather than annoyance or frustration, feelings of anger or distress are commonly felt here.

Events that induce a lingering amount of negative energy are correlated with this level. Think fender benders or speeding tickets. Think fevers or food poisoning. Think fights with family members or significant others.

A trip to this level of The Abyss is infrequent but not unheard of, as the odds of reaching it on any given day are around 1 in 100 (but again, hopefully less for you).

This means that on a timescale of one year, you experience these days about once a quarter or once a season. This does not mean you should expect to receive a speeding ticket once every hundred days, but rather, an incident of this magnitude occurs that often.

Having a bad day that reaches this level of The Abyss is highly unpleasant. Fevers and food poisoning have an adverse effect on the state of your wellbeing. In the short term, they cause stress and anxiety. The short term aspect is worth emphasizing though, as this is a key component of what differentiates this level of The Abyss from the final level below it...

1 In 1000

In rare instances, the upper levels of The Abyss lack the capability to hold the weight of your pain and suffering. In these unfortunate circumstances, you sink deeper and deeper until eventually settling at its lowest level. The odds of landing here on any given day are around 1 in 1000 (hopefully less for you, sincerely), meaning you can go years at a time without venturing this deep into The Abyss. Considering the impact each trip to this level has on your mental state, a visit once every few years is more than enough.

Think back to the worst day you ever had. Think back to your most traumatic experiences. These thoughts give you an understanding of what your surroundings are like at this level of The Abyss.

It's dark. Pitch black. Panic sets in as you blindly grasp for anything that will help guide you out of this miserable environment. You're lost. You're helpless. You're disoriented and scared. How did you even end up here to begin with?

Breakups, death, and events resulting in substantial physical or mental harm to you or a loved one all come with the potential to send you spiraling to the bottom of The Abyss. Severe shock and agony are emotions commonly felt here.

Two things to note: First off, there are many more reasons than those listed above that have the power to bring you to this level. Secondly, there is still variation in the amount of pain and suffering that an event of this type can bring you. For instance, the extent of the emotional distress you feel can differ dramatically between a death and a breakup, but they both occupy this space because of their shared potential to induce life-altering and long lasting negative effects on your psyche.

Ultimately, no matter the cause of your descent to this depth, the emotional hardship you face is extreme. In a more perfect world, nobody would be forced to make this journey. Unfortunately though, the harsh reality is that this level of The Abyss exists, and some days you will exist within it.

With that in mind, the question then becomes: What can you do to mitigate the intensity of the suffering you experience while inside of The Abyss?


Even though you can't completely avoid The Abyss, you can ensure that your time spent there is constructive and worthwhile. The best way to accomplish this is by finding yourself a souvenir. Maybe it's an idea, or maybe it's a lesson. Maybe it's a mantra, or maybe it's a realization. No matter what the souvenir may be, it is imperative to grab something to hold on to and take with you for when you finally exit The Abyss.

Each souvenir you add to your collection acts as a bulb in a metaphorical flashlight that helps you more effectively navigate The Abyss on any subsequent trips. The more souvenirs you acquire, the more knowledge, experience, and wisdom there is to guide you, and the brighter your flashlight is able to shine. Because of the structure of The Abyss and its levels of increasing darkness, it becomes exceedingly useful to have your flashlight be as powerful as possible. With the ability to illuminate your surroundings and frame of mind, you gain the chance to discover quicker and healthier routes out of The Abyss.

Souvenirs are more than just pieces of information though. Each one represents the accomplishment of having successfully made it out of The Abyss on a previous journey. Each one represents courage, perseverance, and triumph. Each one is a reminder of a past hardship you overcame. Each one is a token of strength and confidence you earned for yourself.

Whether it's the recognition to spend time with those who care about you after a breakup, or a reminder to take a deep breath after someone cuts you off on the highway, a souvenir can provide much needed direction during times where you find yourself lost or out of control.

It's no easy task finding a souvenir in The Abyss. Training your mind to seek them out while in a fragile state takes practice and a desire to alleviate future pain and suffering. If that sounds like something you desire though, then give it a try. It's worth a shot. Plus, what do you have to lose?

If you do decide to give it a try, it's important to remember that it's okay if you aren't able to find a souvenir on every trip into The Abyss. Spotting souvenirs is a secondary skill that comes with patience and practice, but training your mind to look for them to begin with is the primary skill worth developing. It takes time and effort to do so, but that effort pays off immensely in the long run.

To recap: Bad days. We all have them. There's just no way around it.

But with your newfound knowledge, you can make the best of your bad day with some souvenirs from The Abyss.

- Harry W. Brodsky

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Great article! “Souvenirs From the Abyss” analytically and thoughtfully explains emotions we all experience. It also offers hope and a recovery strategy.

I believe this article is beneficial, not only to the average person, but also to those suffering from clinical depression and their families and doctors. We all experience the same emotions. However, those suffering with clinical depression spend more time in the deeper levels of the abyss and find it more difficult to find souvenirs. This article can help people across the spectrum.

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