February 8, 2016

Dealing with Wintertime Blues

I've started dreading this time of year. It's not for any concrete reason, just that for the past seven or eight years, I always seem to end up in a funk towards the middle of February on into late March. I know there's such a thing as seasonal affective disorder (SAD), but I'm not going to say that's what it is. I don't know if it's so much the season itself, dread of things I've come to associate with the latter part of the school year plaguing my subconscious mind, backlash from the creative high during the holidays, or a combination of things. I just know it's a pain to deal with every late winter.

Making sure I get plenty vitamins and minerals helps. Opening the curtains and blinds all over the house to let in as much sunshine as possible helps too unless it's one of those odd days where a migraine looms. (Then all that light just hurts, but those are thankfully few and far between these days.) Upbeat music can help a too if the girls have finished their schoolwork.

Still, there are days where all I want to do is curl up in a ball and sleep all day. Maybe it is the weather, especially cold and rainy days. There's just something about the sound of rain hitting the roof that makes you want to laze about in bed. But even the warmer, sunny days can be full of an inexplicable bone deep weariness. It makes no sense. I'm rarely plagued by insomnia anymore. By all rights, I ought to be "bright eyed and bushy tailed," yet I slog through a haze no amount of caffeine and sleep can dissipate.

Please pardon. I don't mean any of this as whining or to sour anyone's mood. I'm writing it out to try and understand. I have so many things I need and want to do. My mind is fairly bursting with ideas, but the execution alludes me. Some days, I have good focus and manage to get a good chunk of my daily to do list done. Others, like a couple weeks ago, my brain bubbles like a pot boiling over. I have more energy, but I can't seem to get anything done for getting distracted by the slightest thing. One of those days where you spend the whole day cleaning, but your house looks even worse by the end of it because each chore is only half finished.

Even then, I do better with chores than trying to write. Have you ever read a piece of stream of consciousness literature? At the best of times, it's like trying to follow the ball in a tennis match from a few hundred yards away. When I get like this, either nothing makes it to the page at all, or it's like trying to follow the same tennis match played with a ping pong ball and sped up a few dozen times.

I've tried SSRIs in the past. They helped with the "sleepies," but they made the episodes with lack of focus more or less permanent when I was on them. I've tried meditation, and I found it to be more helpful than not. Like the things I listed above, it "takes the edge off" for a couple hours. I've tried adjusting my diet and exercise routines, reorganizing everything in my life, trying to talk it out, and a laundry list of other things. And I'm coping better now than I did the first couple years, but I'm so tired of just coping for the better part of two or even sometimes three months. I'm sick of feeling so pathetic and useless all winter long. I want my drive back year round!

Have any of you felt the same? What worked for you? I'd seriously love to hear. I'm all ears.


  1. I am awake all night and sleep all day. My husband does most of the cooking, ok all of the cooking, grocery shopping, helps with dishes and laundry. I haven't vacuumed the house in over three months, really. I pick up handfuls of dog fur or use the dust buster to suck them up. I do brush the dog, she's a Golden and her fur is constantly falling off her on the floor. I've been taking an online course in caregiving consultation, but haven't given it the attention it needs. I do answer the phone calls I need to, and have worked to get help for those who call, but there's so much more I should be doing. I'm tired all the time and want to just sleep, but can't at night.

    I take meds to sleep, and for depression. I've talked to my doctors about it, that made me more depressed and mad. I've been through this before, several times, and I'm not stupid about it. In fact I'm pretty wise to it. So when the doctors gave me a brush off, or did a round robin referral, I decided I wasn't going to deal with them anymore. I know what it is and isn't and I'm going to ride it through.

    The depression comes and goes. It's partly the season, partly my reaction to life events, partly my chemical imbalances, and a lot of me having to Change Your Mind.
    Years ago I heard that song by Sister Hazel and I knew that was the key. "If you're tired of doing battle with yourself, change your mind." I've been working on it since. Sometimes I do better than others.

    I come from a family of people who have issues with depression and addiction, so I've been really cautious about the meds I take and the amounts. I've been really stubborn about seeing a counselor, but finally did years ago, and it helped. I have been a couple more times, but realized with him that I knew what I needed and now don't go. The worst part now is what you mentioned, that there's no one to talk to.

    God has put me in a place where He's the only one, and that's hard. There are friends, but not like I really need. It's just me and Him, there's really no one to talk to about all of it. I can't tell anyone everything. I can't speak it. There are people who need me, who count on me, so I can't be the one who needs them, you know? And so it's just me and God. Sometimes that's really hard to accept. Sometimes it's lonely, empty, really difficult.

    The thing that gets me out of the funk more than anything is doing important work for others. Finding ways to make the lives of others better has helped me more than anything. Part of my sadness, if you will, comes from chronic medical issues and caring for family with medical issues, and the extremely hard trials of dealing with life when you have a medical serious medical crisis. It's been frustrating, has made me angry, sad, impatient, and at times has made me feel deep sorrow and helplessness. I found that working to give advice and guidance to other caregivers who were going through similar situations helped me feel that everything I'd learned and experienced wasn't wasted, and that the anger could be turned into something positive to attempt to effect change. (pt. 1)

  2. (pt. 2)
    You are doing right to write about it, to share your thoughts. It's a lot of chemical imbalance in your brain, so getting a medication that works really helps. It's doing the things you mentioned - sunshine, exercise, friends, diet, meditation/spiritual calm, pampering, sleeping. It's being kind to yourself, and being firm with yourself. It's knowing that you are a mom who had to change her goals, dreams, life, ideas without being asked because circumstances in your life changed, so getting a chance to talk about it, grieve that, and continue moving forward into the life you have now, so that it's one you can eventually embrace with love and enthusiasm, until it changes again. And it will change again.

    You are raising lovely daughters, have a nice business, have been brave to open a business on the internet, have supplemented your income and provided for your family, have started writing and are continuing that endeavor, and you do have a purpose. Keep your mind focused ahead and keep moving. Every day, just one more step, we will all make it. (I always write too much)

    1. Thank you for sharing your story. What an inspiration you are! And I think you're on to something. Sometimes helping others ends up making such a huge impact for good to our own psyches. It's near impossible to see when you're in that dark place, and all you want to do is sleep away the days, but it does.

      Thank you for your kind words as well. In all actuality, the fact I wasn't writing when this particular episode happened turned out to be key. I've been telling stories since I was five or six years old, and I started writing when I was just ten. It's an intrinsic part of who I am, and I gave that part up for almost two years after Sneak was born because it felt like something I no longer had time to do. Getting back to the keys and documenting the characters and worlds spinning in my mind to paper has brought me back to myself over the past five years.

      And don't apologize for "writing too much." As you can see, I do it too. LOL.