The Days are Short, the Winter Long

DSCN1074The rooftops look like marshmallows, puffs of steam trail off in the bitter cold, the January sky is icy-blue.  The days are short, the winter long.

This is the weekend, and my large south-facing picture window invites the sun in.  During the week, I work in a small windowless office.  Daylight is down 18 stairs, across a warehouse, and through the doors.  It is dark when I wake and barely light when I leave the house.  The sun is low on the horizon for my drive home.

I don’t go to bed any earlier in the winter.  I don’t rise any later.  Yet there are fewer hours in my day.  Maybe it’s the damn Sims game my daughter suggested I download to my phone.  My reality is now based on Life Points and making Woo-Hoo.  I know I need to quit.  But my tiny people would starve and pee all over their little houses.  I just can’t bear the thought.  Or maybe I’ve just lost my mojo.

Woo hoo
My couple makes Woo-Hoo (blurred, center) while Santa sits in a nearby chair. A baby is on the way in the crib. (upper left) Somewhat disturbing, I know. Bubba thinks I’m nuts.

Seasonal Affective Disorder is something I’ve often thought I might have.  I try to disregard things I think I might have as opposed to those things I know I have.   However, for the last five years that I’ve worked in this fluorescent box I call an office, the winter months are insufferable.  And last November when we turned the clocks back it was like someone flipped a switch.  I’m moody.  I’m overwhelmed.  I’m hungry.  My thoughts are disjointed.  I feel socially awkward.  There might be something to this S.A.D. thing after all.

8611015067_3b448750eeA simple trip to the grocery store is suddenly a major event.  It is unlikely I know how much is in my debit account and even less likely I have a list.  With no plan in place, I buy a few of the usual items from the usual departments.  Vegetables.  Eggs.  Meat.  Yogurt.  Toilet Paper.  I hope against hope I find the ingredients for a meal when I get home.  Thankfully Bubba, engrossed in his everyday rituals, is fairly unaffected.  Fairly.

Bubba:  (At the deli counter)  I’ll take a half pound of turkey breast.
Me:  There’s a coupon.
Deli Man:  You want a pound of turkey breast?
Bubba:  Oh, the coupon is for a pound.  No, just give me a half pound.
Me:  I should get some ham.
Bubba:  (Realizing the guy is measuring out the whole pound anyway)  Hey, just take a handful off the top of that, and it will be fine.
Me:  I don’t want him to measure out whole pound of ham though.
Bubba:  (Thinking he heard me say I didn’t want a half pound)  Just get a quarter.
Me:  Are you telling me or asking me?
Bubba:  Huh?
Me:  Why are you telling me what to do?
Bubba:  Should we just go back outside and start over?

“Poor guy,” you’re thinking.  It’s a good thing we can keep a sense of humor.

And there is anxiety.  Looming bills, stubborn weight-gain,  errors at work, unwritten letters and cards, forgotten birthdays, dusty shelves; all encroach like a tidal wave gaining size and momentum at sea.  Unwritten lists build hour by hour, day by day, filling my murky brain.  Yes, I have been too overwhelmed to write my damned lists!

This is the time that one must go back to one’s best practices.  Shed the heavy winter coats of burden, and pry off the snow-caked boots of guilt.  Go naked against the day.  Figuratively, please . . . hey now, this is a family blog!

  • Drink water:  Flushing toxins, rehydrating the skin, muscles and brain, drinking water is one of the gentlest things you can do to begin healing from anything.
  • Eat mindfully:  Paying attention to what goes into your body is important.  This doesn’t stop with purchasing and preparing your meal.  Really slow down and enjoy your meal purposefully.
  • Be present:  Include activities that bring yourself closer to now.  Cuddle your children.  Pet the dog.  Tend a plant.  Meditate.
  • Dance:  Let your music move you.  If you are so inclined, SING!  (A big thank you to izzwizz for that suggestion!)
  • Go on outdoor walks:  Bundle up, if necessary — we are 5 degrees at 1:00 p.m. today — it’s necessary!  Let the weather hit you in the face; rain, wind, sun and snow.  Trust me, you will feel more alive for it.
  • Make an intention every day:  Some days we need to aim low.  Today my intention is to write this post.  Another day it might be to move a mountain.  But that is another day, and another day will come.
  • Be your own best friend:  I am lucky enough to have wonderful friends and family who care for me.  None compare to the friend I have found in myself.  I always know what is best for me at any given moment.  The trick is to allow myself to give and receive graciously.
English: A 30 kHz bright light therapy lamp (I...
A light therapy lamp (Innosol Rondo) used to treat seasonal affective disorder. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

These are the tools I have chosen to shovel myself out this winter.  I have a couple other tricks up my sleeve, like vitamin supplements and a small therapy light, both suggested by my doctor last year.  While it is normal to feel down some days, if you feel down for days and cannot seem to get motivated to do the things you usually enjoy, please see your doctor.  This is especially important if you have changes in your sleep patterns or your appetite changes or you feel hopeless, suicidal, or are turning to alcohol for comfort.

Never take depression lightly.

Peace . . .

 

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10 thoughts on “The Days are Short, the Winter Long

  1. I am just now getting used to seeing your new name pop up in my inbox. 🙂

    I too suffer from SAD and really should get myself a light box. Do you take your light to work with you? I can’t even imagine how bad things would be for me if I had to work in a windowless box all day missing the sun. One thing that helps is taking Vitamin D which I fought against for years.

    Hope you feel better soon.

    1. I don’t take my light to work. I like to turn it on while I cook and/or eat breakfast. Thank you. I just need to hold fewer expectations for myself for a little while.

  2. First I like the Gretchen Rubin-ish title and I agree this is the longest winter….ever! The day the clocks turn back I start taking vitamin d because I really miss the light…this year is a kick in the pants, nothing seems to help. Next Sunday is Groundhog Day, the unofficial hump day of winter, for me it seems to fly after that….can we make it another week? Negative numbers again…..not so sure…hopefully we will.

    1. The odd thing is that the snow doesn’t bother me. I think the snow is beautiful. Even in April! I don’t really mind the cold, except when it doesn’t get over zero for two weeks at a time. Then everyone gets cranky, me included. But the lack of light just drains me.

  3. Thanks for this. Wish you were the only one struggling with this but everyone seems to have some version of it. I have my light box close at hand for those days when the sun doesn’t shine through the clouds. A windowless office would be my demise. I thought I was crazy when the day after they turned the clocks back, I had no steam to move. I’ve been dragging through the days like I had an anvil around my neck. I can’t write and sewed the collar upside down on a shirt I’ve made many times. I’m grateful we don’t get your temps here. We are all hanging in there with you. Oh, and I’ve had to give up the carbs again. They make my body hurt and the depression twice as bad. Those things that I eat for comfort, don’t.

    1. “Those things that I eat for comfort, don’t.”

      I like that. It would make a great song, or a saying on the refrigerator. The carbs were killing me too. Especially the Holiday Carbs. I don’t like to complain, because it’s not like I’m completely debilitated like some people. I just really don’t understand where the hours have gone. It’s like someone sewed my collar on upside-down.

      Sorry, couldn’t resist. Gotta keep our sense of humor and turn on our lights!

      1. The whole month has been a collar upside down month. Yes, a sense of humor is vital. I laugh at myself first and invite the world to join me. Hang in there. We are half way through winter.:)

  4. Pingback: A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Interview | seeking life

  5. Pingback: Can’t Wait for Spring? | Out The Sunroof

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