A person curled up inside a tear drop

Why Crying Can Be Good For You

In the morning while I’m making coffee, I record “The Today Show” and “Morning Joe.” Then I can skip through the commercials and get my dose of morning news without all the sales pitches.

It’s not the whole day’s dose, though. Afterward, I read The New York Times in print and The Washington Post, and a local paper online. I still might not be finished, but it’s enough for a while. Plug for the importance of paying for the news, especially that delivered by local outlets: If you can afford it, it’s a great service to subscribe to a newspaper. As a former newspaper reporter, I’m so saddened by seeing local newspapers die. I could almost cry!

"Crying helps you re-regulate"

I’m not writing this to talk about the news business, though. I’m writing to talk about this crying business. I heard an interesting comment on “The Today Show” about crying. Vicky Nguyen, a Vietnamese American investigative reporter, talked about it in the context of covering the horrific Atlanta spa shootings in March. Of the eight people who died, six were women of Asian descent.

Nguyen said she had cried while doing the reporting.

“Crying helps you re-regulate,” she said.

Most of us know that “a good cry” can be cleansing. Yet for adults, it can have a bad reputation, as in, being a crybaby.

After my last stem cell transplant, I became more emotional, more prone to crying. I cried at times I wouldn’t have otherwise done. After an argument with my grown son, I cried on and off for weeks. I couldn’t even talk to him. Another time, I got trolled on the internet. I spent most of the weekend crying. Understandably these things are upsetting, but to the friend with whom I was spending the weekend, the crying got to be irritating. I couldn’t turn off the spigot that had opened.

(Note: This was a little bit much, and I took her advice and talked to my doctor about changing my antidepressant medication.)

Did I cry this much before?

I don’t remember ever crying like this in the Before Times, as in, before cancer. In one of my last outings before the pandemic, I cried over something silly during lunch with three close friends. One was eating a salad. I thought she said to take a bite, so I reached over with my fork.

“Don’t do that!” she snapped. I burst into tears. “I thought you said to take a bite,” I said. No, she said, she hadn’t said that. But then SHE felt bad. She apologized and said to take a bite of salad. I was embarrassed. I had made my friend feel bad.

It wasn’t really about the salad. I didn’t NEED that bite, after all. If you cry over some silly thing, it is rarely about that. Other things were going on. My daughter was having a medical test the next day. I was planning to go with her. I was worried about my baby (actually a 27-year-old). I said I was sorry. I said it wasn’t about the food. Also, the damp, cold day was making my neuropathy go crazy. My feet were sending electric shocks through my body. When this happens, everything else is harder to take.

When you’ve had a stem cell transplant – or multiple ones like I have had – you likely have other things going on. Maybe it’s neuropathy. Maybe it’s some other side effect, or after effect, meaning it has been going on for a long time.

Have you ever cried at the drop of a hat? And why do we say, “cry at the drop of a hat,” anyway?

Grammarist explains: “To do something at the drop of a hat means to do it immediately, without delay and at the slightest provocation. The idiom may have come from the American Old West, when various fights, contests and duels began with a signal consisting of a man grabbing his hat and thrusting it toward the ground.”

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