I think everyone finds January tough – the dark mornings, the dark evenings; cold outside, comfort eating. Before we had kids I used to love going away on a holiday in the first week of the year to the Canaries to get some sunshine just to get an injection of sun and warmth. Now coldness is creeping in – in every sense with what I assume is the Black Dog making its latest visit to me.
It’s tough to distinguish between the normal dip everyone suffers at this time of year and a bout of depression but I think this is the latter. There’s a sense of being lost, unsettled at the moment that I know is not my “normal” state of mind. It doesn’t help that I can’t eat my way out of this dip as both me and the wife are trying to lose weight. Since starting the tablets to help me sleep I’ve really put on the weight – a couple of stone at least – and when I struggle to maintain a steady waistline as it is, any additional problem is far from welcome.
The other reason I know that I’m struggling just now is that even little issues are being magnetized. Things that would normally be niggles are being blown out of all proportion and they prey on your mind all day. I’m not sleeping well either – quite restless even on the tablets. I’ve changed recently from the slow release ones that left me groggy and lethargic during the day to ones I feel better on – the downside being that while they help you get off to sleep they don’t keep you sleeping. You have to weigh up what’s best and I’d rather be alert during the day.
Little things – like all the celebrities who have passed this year all feel like a personal loss: Bowie, Rickman, Frey. It’s like part of you vanishes with them, things you love like their songs and films now have an added melancholy. It feels like that scene in “Inside out” where Sadness touches the memories and they start to turn blue. That film nailed exactly what it is like to be an adult – and as you get older you become more and more aware that happy memories are tarnished by the passage of time. If life is what happens when you are making plans, then sadness is what happens to old memories when you are making new ones.
As I get older there is more to consider, more to worry about, more to impact on my mood. There’s no reset button, or off switch for the brain so when the gremlins come to visit with their usual regularity, the system scrambles and darkens. I’ve often used the analogy of a set of book shelves which have books missing, on the floor or out of order for my depressed mind. you haven’t got the capacity to rearrange, order or sort the problem you just enter the room in despair wondering how you will sort the mess. And it does get more difficult each time as there is more to try to find structure for.
How do we/I get through it each time is a mystery. I know that there is a day when those books are back in order, a day when the sun shines, a day when everything is back in its proportion and maybe it’s that which keeps me going. The knowledge that there is another sunrise, another opportunity, another positive memory ahead means you battle through the toughest of hours, days and weeks. To say that those who are depressed are pessimists is wrong – we’re optimists. We have to be, otherwise there wouldn’t be any reason to keep going.
So when you want to stop; when you want to give up; want to take the exit you need to stop and look ahead beyond the sadness – somewhere out there is the next smile, belly laugh, hope, dream, ambition, possibility, opportunity and chance to shine again. While it’s not easy, it is worth fighting for.