the helplessness blues


So as per tradition I spent these first few weeks of cold weather being sick. I followed up the Thanksgiving cold with a bout of bronchitis which then turned into pneumonia. As a result I've been a bit of a dullard for the past while (dullard in the sense of a person who evokes boredom rather than the stupid type) and have not felt the inclination to post about anything. That feeling of dullness has started to lift over the past few weeks, but not without some effort. I know I'm not the only person to feel like this. Lots of other blogs I read have featured posts about being bummed out by the weather or feeling depressed, and it's given me some comfort to know that other people out there have been struggling like I have.

For the most part I like the seasonal change. It's hard to dislike the beautiful colours of the falling leaves or the romance of the first snowfall.

Cooler temperatures mean that I can wear sweaters and boots (even if the zipper on my favourite pair keeps on breaking and all of my tights seem to have holes in them after only being worn once) and I have the perfect excuse to work on knitting projects in the evenings and on the weekends.

But the coziness of fall and winter attire doesn't really do all that much to keep my emotions warm. It's like the darkness of my moods correspond with the rate at which the sun sets each night. I know I'm not very pleasant when I get depressed like this. Usually I don't start to feel like this until winter has been around for a few months, but this year has been particularly bad and I seemed to have fallen to despair ahead of schedule. Perhaps being sick exacerbated things... at least now I'm feeling more my normal self.

They say that major depression occurs in 10 to 25 percent of women... and yet it's not something that most people feel comfortable admitting to suffering from. Admitting that you're depressed is tough, particularly when you feel like telling others how you feel is like admitting you're somehow weaker than everyone else. This is especially difficult when you feel like people will use this weakness against you... whether it be in your personal life or your work. And so you start to withdraw and construct imaginary barriers between you and others. I am particularly guilty of this. I'm a pretty introverted person to begin with, but add feeling depressed to the mix and I become a serious loner. I do this because I know I'm unpleasant to be around when I'm depressed. I become instinctively negative and it's just easier not to be around other people because talking about how I feel is exhausting for everyone. Trying to feign pleasantries is even more difficult and it's just so much easier to be sullen and silent alone.

Breaking out of this spiral of negativity isn't easy. Progress is slow and there can be lots of setbacks. It's sort of like recovering from dehydration. Chugging back water will just make you sick... but you'll recover quite nicely from a slow saline drip.

People have lots of methods for dealing with their depression. Some rely on antidepressants, others rely on therapy, others meditation or exercise. For me, feeling normal again has meant that I make time for creative pursuits (photography), I knit for stress relief (a sort of meditation in itself), I eat a more balanced diet and take vitamins, I exercise (some more social in nature and some more meditative), and I go for walks. It's a simple routine... but it's still one that I have to strive to maintain.

It's worth it though. Things are starting to fall back into place and I'm slowly returning to normalcy. This morning I went back to my Pilates class after having to miss a few while recovering from pneumonia. It was good to be back even though I had to wrench myself out of bed to go and then speed walk to there on time. I started taking more photographs of things that aren't just my knitting projects and even made a video for fun recently. I found myself relishing the bite of the wind today as I walked back home across the bridge. Winter may be coming, but at least any numbness will be due to the temperature and not the winter of my discontent.