I don’t know about you, but I always have a hard time when daylight savings time ends and we deal with more dark hours of the day. As a kid I loved this time of year. Besides the extra hour of sleep you get on the first day of the time change, there was something about the darkness that I liked. I loved the stillness of the dark. Growing up on the farm in the winter was beautiful to me. The bright white snow against the darkness is actually a calming scene for me. I spent many nights outside in the winter helping my Grandma feed calves or hunkering down in our calf barn playing with cats. I liked the cozy feeling I got from those dark hours. I still do like that cozy feeling and the darkness, just not for months on end. Once we hit the end of January I am about done with the darkness. The goal right now is to nip the depressive feelings that I know are coming in the bud so when the end of January comes around I won’t be miserable.
If I’m being honest, I’ve felt myself slowly going down a slippery slope over the summer. Being outside and gardening kept me occupied when it was warm out, so now that it is dark and cold out and I don’t have an outlet, my friend depression is creeping back in.
I’ve been on and off of anti-depressants since 2004 and I have learned to listen to my body and mind. Every time depression has creeped back into my life it looks different. Sometimes it is a feeling of doom and dread, other times I have a bad attitude continually. This time it is looking like not finding joy in things that I once did. Everything is sort of “blah”. After these 18 months of Covid I think that a lot of us are struggling.
I first noticed that my depression might be rearing its ugly head again because I didn’t find nearly as much joy in seeing people as I once did. I kind of have been going through the motions for a couple months. I mean, things are fine but they aren’t great. I know that I have to get ahead of this depression beast. The longer I wait to deal with it, the lower of a pit I put myself in. Let me tell you, getting out of the deep depression pit is hard work.
So, what am I doing to counteract this darkness coming back in my life? Well first, I’m being open and honest about it. Hopefully writing about it will help someone realize that it is okay to look out for your mental health.
Second, I use my light box right away in the morning. It is just a small box that I set in front of myself when I have my morning coffee or am starting work. It’s not like I can tell a huge difference when I use the light, but when I don’t use it for a couple days I can tell that my energy has depleted. Basically, I need sunlight.
Third, I’m going to start back up with yoga. My goal is that at least three times per week I will do my yoga practice right when I wake up. Yoga has been healing for my mind and body before. This body isn’t getting any younger and I am now looking forward to the benefits of yoga for the random aches and pains that are starting to occur.
Fourth, I’m on the hunt for a new therapist. I haven’t seen a therapist since Covid hit and I just need someone to keep me on track and keep my negative self-talk in check. Imposter syndrome is taking over my mind and I need to kick that to the curb ASAP. I look at going to therapy like an oil change on a car. In order to keep a car running at optimum levels you need to check all the fluid levels occassionally. I’m well overdue for an oil change!
Finally, I met with my doctor and we are tweaking my anti-depressant medication. Nothing major, just a minor adjustment to see if it helps. I don’t like being on anti-depressants and anti-anxiety medications but I have learned that my body needs the extra help. No shame here. My depression is definitely seasonal, kind of like seasonal allergies. Ragweed and I are not friends in the summer and fall so I take a couple types of allergy medicine. Darkness and I are not friends so I take more medication in the winter than other times of the year. It’s just the way my body works.
Please know that if you are dealing with depression that there is help out there for you. The first step is recognizing that you need some extra help and figuring out what works best for you. You do not have to suffer in silence. If you are fortunate enough to not deal with depression, I encourage you to look out for your loved ones who do. Check in with them and see how they are doing. Sometimes a simple phone call goes a long ways in helping someone out. You don’t have to talk about depression or anything like that, but checking in with your friends and family really does brigten your mood. I will also let you in on a little secret – often times the people who seem the most “okay” are the ones who need the most help and need someone to reach out to them.
Hopefully, the darkness won’t bother me as much this year and I can go back to enjoying the winter darkness as a time to cozy up with my cats and rejuvinate.