Winter is coming. The cold is inconvenient, but the loss of light does things to my mood that are unpredictable and barely under my control – it exacerbates monthly hormonal fluctuations in sanity in ways that I cannot tolerate. I am holding onto threads with the tips of my fingers, trying to keep myself from unraveling.
I won’t call it depression, because I’ve read and seen what full blown major depression is and can do and I don’t want to diminish that suffering by comparing it to mine. I will say that I get minor depression if there is such a thing and this year I caught it while it was still only the fatigue that precedes a low grade depression which can last all season for me if I’m not careful.
Every year it happens and every year I’m surprised. Once I recognize what it is and that it’s not completely random, I take a day or two to regroup, take it easy, lie around – this can be tricky because I could easily fall into just letting the lethargy win, but I find that just giving myself permission to feel crappy for a couple of days helps a great deal, takes off the guilt for all the things I’m not accomplishing and makes me easier to be around.
Then I rally my diminishing energy and I start making lists. Lists of things that help. Obvious things, things that come easily the rest of the year. I don’t think I’ve shared this here before, but please excuse my mental fog if I have.
- get dressed every day
- shower regularly
- brush teeth
- go outside
- exercise outside
- turn off t.v. and computer – this is seriously the hardest thing
- accomplish something – even a small thing
- clean or organize something, anything, even a small thing
- maintain current caffeine consumption – do not increase or decrease until this thing is under control
- no matter how tired you are, unless there’s a good physical reason (pregnancy?), do not nap during the day
- lights out by eleven
- eat something healthy – protein and fresh vegetables
Sometimes I can’t do all of these things at once, but I keep it as a checklist to make sure I’m moving in the right direction. Going outside and exercising are biggies for me. Fortunately, my kids make me get up every day. And my chickens are getting me out of the house. Once I’m out, it’s easy to stay out a while because it is so refreshing.
I also try to remember to take melatonin before bed because it seems to keep me from waking repeatedly from every little bump and creak in the house.
And I have a placebo light. I don’t know if a placebo still works if the user acknowledges it may be a placebo, so maybe there’s really something to this, because it does seem to help. I get up in the black morning, turn on the coffee maker that I have moved to my bedroom and set up the night before, prop this thing up on the end of my bed and try not to look directly at it.
So that’s pretty much it. I just shut off my light a minute ago and now a little boy is demanding breakfast so see ya!