Lifestyle Opinion Reflective

The Science of Sadness

Sadness is the worst feeling. All kinds of sadness really suck. Grief, which I haven’t felt properly since my drama teacher passed away almost four years ago, or heartbreak, which I felt for the first time almost two years ago. Grief and heartbreak and sadness suck, worse than fear, worse than anger, because there is nothing you can do about sadness, at least, not in the long term. You just have to wait it out.


We all deal with sadness differently, in the short term. Some people like eating a chocolate chip cookie the size of their face, and some people like to watch Mamma Mia. I’ll probably end up doing both of those things later tonight, but first I’ve stuck on Norman F***ing Rockwell by Lana Del Rey and sat down with my computer. When I’m sad, I write. It helps me process. I’m writing to pinpoint my sadness because tonight I can’t tell where its coming from. I’m not heartbroken, and I’m not grieving. I’m just sad.


A quick Google search tells me “Sadness is associated with increased activity of the right occipital lobe, the left insula, the left thalamus, the amygdala and the hippocampus. The hippocampus is strongly linked with memory, and it makes sense that awareness of certain memories is associated with feeling sad.” (Neurology Live). I know there is science behind my sadness, but because I dropped biology after National 5 I think it’s fairly worthless to pursue that any further. I start to make a list of reasons why I might be sad, the non-scientific reasons. There are lots of little things that might have coincidentally coincided, leading to me sat in my dark bedroom under blue LEDs writing an article about sadness. But why tonight?


Scratch that. Dead end. Can’t figure out why I’m sad. So, let’s be proactive. What can I do?


– Eat ice cream.

– Watch Wild Child.

– Listen to the soundtrack of Lemonade Mouth.

– Have a bath.

– Talk to Jasper.

– Talk to Gail.

– Talk to Ciara.

Talk. I can talk. I could and I would talk, but I don’t know what I could say. They can’t help me if I can’t tell them why I’m sad. They can’t tell me how to fix the problem, if they don’t know, if I don’t know, what the problem is.


I haven’t cried yet. I need something to set me off if I want to cry, one of those “I’m fine until you ask me if I’m okay” moments. I haven’t cried, but there’s a heavy sinking feeling in my heart and lower abdomen. There’s a lump in the back of my throat and the sadness is becoming a cycle because the sinking in my heart reminds me of when my heart was broken two years ago. What could I possibly have to be heartbroken about? My life is wonderful.


My life is wonderful.


Perhaps my issue is that I can’t accept that there is no science behind sadness. It doesn’t make sense. One tiny memory is triggered in our brain and suddenly we’re on a slippery slope towards Ben and Jerry’s and Lana Del Rey albums, remembering everything else we’ve ever been sad about and struggling to remember the good, of which there is so much. There are friends, there is school, there are teachers who care, there are dads who will come sprinting across the park if I say I’m lonely and mum’s away, there are reasons, there are reasons to be happy, and reasons to be sad, and sometimes there are no reasons at all and we just wait for something nice to come along and dissolve the lump in our throats and our hearts. There is laughter. There are smiles. And this is turning into a never-ending mind jumble and train of thought so I will leave you by saying:


There is no science behind sadness. And that is okay.


I am going to be okay.




By Sofia Macchi Watts

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