I looked at my next AWESOME prompt this morning and quickly closed the file. Awesome Surprises. WTF is that supposed to mean anyway? There are no awesome surprises. Life sucks. Every day is the same. Cold, dark and dreary. All the things I enjoy, I can’t do because of snow and ice and cold. The only surprise would be if the sun would come out and the temperatures would rise above freezing and the two feet of now-brownish-black snow would just disappear.
I am deep in the throes of SAD: Seasonal Affective Disorder. The Winter Blues.
It really hasn’t been this bad for quite a few years, and it has pretty much blindsided me. So if you want to call that my Awesome Surprise for Day 43 of this journey, go ahead. Knock yourself out.
For those of you who love winter and just don’t believe SAD is real, I have a visual for you that came to me this morning as I was huddled under my covers, trying to drown out the plinkity plinkity plinkity sound of ice on my roof. There was this little triangle that the blankets had formed, and through it I could see my bedroom wall. It seemed close yet very far away. Like a tunnel. I knew all I had to do was throw off the blankets and get out of bed to begin my day, but the tunnel seemed too long and too dark and too cold. It was very Alice-in-Wonderland-ish. Drink me. Eat me. I’m getting smaller. Wake me when it’s spring.
I have been told that accepting something doesn’t mean I have to like it. And believe me, I have tried my best to like winter. I’ve bought clothing designed to keep me warm, footwear designed to keep the snow out, even a car designed to drive in the harshest conditions. But at the end of the day, none of it makes any difference if I can’t fight my way out of the tunnel.
The French call it ennui. Which is a fancy way of saying that this is the worst frigging cabin fever I’ve ever had and I can understand why the three most popular things in Alaska are domestic abuse, alcoholism and suicide. Nothing seems interesting to me, except perhaps a tropical vacation. But just thinking about making travel arrangements and worrying about going anywhere in this weather immobilizes me. So I sit and do nothing. And of course that only gets me more depressed.
I’ve tried – and continue to try – all the remedies for SAD: vitamin D, St. John’s Wort, SAM-e, a 10,000-lux lightbox, a dawn simulator, exercise, cutting carbs and sugar. And in the past they’ve worked. But not this year. This year we’re four-for-four since Christmas: four storms in as many weeks. I’ve had to go on a weather fast so as not to commit hari-kari every time I open up the Weather Channel app on my iPhone. And every morning for the past several days, I’ve cried.
Somehow that has helped. Just releasing the frustration and whatever nasty chemicals scientists have determined are expelled in tears seems to clear some of the fuzz that has settled around my brain. Seems to make the tunnel not so dark and deep and cold. Seems to give me just a little glimmer of hope that yes, I can slog through another day. I know that no winter in the past has lasted forever, so I am confident that this one will not either.
And so I give myself permission to move slowly today. To crawl out of the tunnel an inch at a time if that’s all the strength I can muster. To crawl back in and rest if I have to. And to forgive myself if I can’t do much else. That may be the most awesome surprise of all.