I’m having a difficult time, again, this winter.
Each December I think, “this isn’t so bad, maybe this year I’ll be ok.” And so far, for the past 3 – 5 years, sometime around mid February, I just break down and start crying for no apparent reason. Or, depending on how you look at it, for a number of little reasons: I can’t feel my toes, and when I can they are swollen, red, and painful; I can’t feel my fingers or get my hands to cooperate; every bone in my body hurts; my car doors freeze shut (or sometimes open!); my car won’t shift; I have to shovel snow, again; I have to scrape the ice off my windshield, again; I can’t stay warm; I have a minimum of 5 layers around my waist; pipes are frozen at one of my places of employment. You get the idea. Winter makes me miserable.
The thing is, I used to like Winter. Now, each year as my mental mood goes sour, I wonder if my current state of mind can be blamed on SAD, Seasonal Affective Disorder. I’m aware of all the advice out there as to how to cope with SAD, or what some people call “Winter Blues”. Some of the advice contains things as simple as continuing your exercise routine and getting enough sleep, but I giggle when I read all the “10 habits of happy/joyful/content people”. Really, the advice, or habits, in these type of articles always seems trite, and the “habits” aren’t really habits, but are more like personality traits. And quite frankly, some of us, even if we are happy or joyful, are just too sarcastic and negative sounding to fit the description given of a “happy person”.
I am also aware of the fact that SAD can mimic other mental illnesses, like depression, and even some physical illnesses, like thyroid disorders. And it’s this reason that I am always cautious about assuming my foul mood is SAD related and why I don’t look into seeing a professional. I suspect the switch from me liking winter to being miserable happened gradually – as the arthritis started showing up on my bones, my dislike of the cold got more pronounced. I get sour when my bones hurt, and cold makes my bones hurt, that’s pretty basic. But I also know that depression can express itself in physical pain. So you see the tricky Winter loop I’m stuck in?! It’s the egg before the chicken conundrum, or in this case: pain vs. mood, which manifests itself first?
I know there are a number of people out there who live in colder climates than the one in which we live. But quite frankly, they can keep their extra snow, and colder temperatures, I’m not impressed. I’m just trying to get through this winter. It’s been a long one already, but February is more than half way over… which means Spring is just a few days away. I’m simply trying to take it one day at a time, looking forward to the days of temperatures above freezing, using a heated blanket when I sleep, snuggling with the dog, taking some classes at the YMCA, and dreaming of warm sunny places. Maybe next year I’ll visit my Auntie Em in California during February.