Being Canadian I’m pretty used to winter – the cold, the snow, the storms. I even enjoy quite a bit about winter: snow sparkling under a newly risen sun after a night of flurries; the way the trees look like they’re made of glass after an ice storm; tobogganing; walking and hearing that crunch, crunch, crunch beneath my feet, knowing that when I get back home there will be a fire burning in the gas stove just inside my apartment door. Warm and cozy.
But I rarely have the energy to do any of that exercizy stuff because what I hate, hate hate about winter is the darkness.
I’ve written about this bitch before. Pardon my language but it does get frustrating.
And it never used to bother me. This only started about three years ago.
Maybe it’s because I’m getting older and closer to the forever darkness that makes it so difficult but I find it more and more unsettling to see nightfall outside my window and then look at the clock and see it’s only 5 in the late afternoon. (I consider six o’clock the true beginning of the evening)
Yes, the more I think about it the more I think it’s all related to my getting older.
There’s life in light. It’s increasingly difficult for me to summon up the energy to pull it out of the overwhelming amount of night we experience in the winter months.
Maybe I’m just bitter. I don’t like getting old. It’s like, just when you’ve started figuring things out, just when you’re starting to really get a handle on this living gig you realize your time is almost up.
Now I know I’m not all that old and I know that with my bipolar2/hypomania my thinking is skewed compared to people my age who don’t struggle with mental illness, but knowing this doesn’t help how I feel about aging or winter.
It also doesn’t help that I live below the poverty line. I can’t jump in my car and skip around to the gym for a quick dip.
Oh I’d love to be able to do that. Go swimming in the evening in the winter, then stop in at a nice coffee shop for a latte and a bit of a read through the newspaper before heading home, all the while thumbing my nose at mother nature’s dark side.
I need a job, I think to myself. But I’m in no physical or mental condition to hold a job right now, I tell myself.
That sucks, I reply.
The internal repartee is stunning I can tell you!
But this is how it is in my head these long, long nights.
It’s call Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD (I’ve always wondered if they goofed around with the wording of this so the acronym would be SAD) for most people, but according to Wikipedia about 20 per cent of people with SAD actually have bipolar 1 or bipolar 2. And if you have one of those conditions then you apparently don’t also have SAD, you have “a depressive seasonal pattern” to go along with your bipolar stuff. Here’s the link to that info https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seasonal_affective_disorder#cite_note-Geoffroy-2013-11.
I can tell you right now, my brain doesn’t care if it’s SAD or bipolar2 with a depressive seasonal pattern, it’s just horrible.
I envy bears and other wildlife that just sleep through the whole thing. If I could I would fall asleep as soon as it gets dark, sleep through most of the day then fall back asleep as soon as it gets dark again. That way the season would at least feel shorter. At least that’s what my dark brain is telling me.
Yes, sleep feels like the only succor at this time of year when my depression is at a high point. Or is it more accurate to say low point? In any case, you get my point yes?
Funny story, I recently taught myself how to arm knit (I can’t do normal knitting, too fussy, takes too long to make anything) and I’ve been doing that to try and make the time go by a little easier. The thing is I can only make one thing, scarves, and right now I’ve got about 20 of them around the apartment. I gave all the women in my family one for Christmas and handed out a couple to friends and I’ve still got this stack of arm knit scarves lying around.
I can’t stop myself! I don’t drink anymore and any addict worth their salt knows you always exchange one addiction for another.
So, yeah, as the snow piles up outside my window, the scarves pile up inside.
I know I’m in a rut. I know there are things I can do to help ease the burden of this heaviness – vitamin D ( take two a day), walking (I don’t have the energy), eating healthier (all I really want is spagetti), but when I’m in a rut I’m in a rut. I just have to keep slogging along until things get better.
And nobody tell me to get one of those special lights that are like having sunlight in your home, because it’s not the lack of light in my home that bothers me, it’s the lack of light outside my window.
Oh, I’m getting grumpy now. I’d better go. Gonna climb under the covers and try to make like a bear.
I hope you are all having better days in your winter wonderlands. If not, hang in there. You are not alone.