February and I, we don’t get along. In fact, it’s been such a long-despised relationship, I start dreading February when August comes around. It’s a short month, sure, but the most brutal by far. Everything exciting about winter has passed or lost its luster. No more family holidays, traditions, parties, or goal-setting. At best, there’s the contrived, obligatory letdown of Valentine’s day, though I personally choose not to participate. My birthday is at the end of January, so that gets me through the first month of the year, but I always feel like the only thing to look forward to about February is its end.
I’ve managed to stave off the deepest drudges of Seasonal Affective Disorder until February. Now, heading into its second week*, I’m feeling it deep and hard to the core of my bones. It’s difficult to describe the feeling to people who don’t experience SAD, even more so if they aren’t also familiar with chronic pain.
My February mind is like a swarm of bees with no queen. All stinger, no honey. Echoing with a maddening buzz. My February hands are rigor mortis-stiff and chilled so deeply, they’ve completely forgotten the meaning of “warmth”. My February jaw is clenched and grinding, clamoring to articulate how badly I miss feeling like myself. My February muscles spasm and dully pulsate with every shallow inhale and exhale, every heartbeat. It’s a struggle to sit still. It’s a struggle to move.
I find myself running in circles. I’m aware enough of this cycle to know it will end as soon as it’s consistently warm and sunny. I feel that if I hold that much awareness, I should be able to come up with some concoction, some apparatus that can end it early. Maybe a sun lamp. Maybe a vacation. Maybe meditation or yoga or more fruit or meds. Maybe if I have some good sex, or a good cry. Maybe if I shop, or talk, or don’t talk, or just pretend it’s not there it will go away. But no, there’s not a quick release for winter depression. I shame myself for feeling it – I have nothing to be upset about. The world is far more cruel to people who have far less than I do. I have everything I need. I am privileged. I am loved. I am healthy(ish). I am working towards my dreams.
I realize that things will come, and things will go. I do my best meditate and watch thoughts drift through my mind like clouds in the sky. I’ll be the first to admit, it’s much easier said than done – especially when the sky is particularly cloudy for days or weeks on end. I’m a work in progress, taking patches of clear blue sky and a clear mind when I can get them, understanding they won’t last forever, but neither will the foggy, overcast days.
*I struggled to write this, or rather, I struggled to post it. It’s been sitting in my “Drafts” for 2 weeks while I lie idle, debating whether or not my depression is worth posting about. Now that I’m slowy starting to come out of it, I think yea, it is worth it. While I’m not looking for sympathy or pity, and I acknowledge that in the grand scheme of things my personal depression isn’t a huge deal, it is a very real thing that I struggle with, and I know others can relate. It is both mental and physical, a tug-of-war between chronic pain exacerbated by the weather, and the malaise the weather itself brings. In the weeks since this posts inception, It got much darker before it started to lift. I’m just now (as in, today) waking up at a reasonable hour rather than sleeping as long as possible just to get through the bulk of the day. I re-started my ritual daily tarot reading (more on that soon) to set an intention in the mornings. I’m working on taking care of myself, though some days that *does* entail sleeping until 11 because chronic fatigue is just kicking my ass. The biggest thing that has helped lift me out (other than time) is focusing on the little joys throughout the day, rather than focusing on how many more days the weather will be terrible. Looking forward to things is great, but looking forward to something like your life depends on it can be an anchor holding you down from enjoying… well, anything but that thing you’re looking forward to. I don’t want to let the cozy moments of warm coffee and watching the snow fall pass me by just because I can’t wait to bask in the warm glow of the sun again. So, for the remainder of the winter (who knows how long that will be), I intend to live for the day, not for the next season.