Monday, May 10, 2010

Down Days Step 1

I have down days sometimes....down days when I don't remember what up days feel like. Down days when I have a hard time convincing myself that the up days will come around again. I discovered about 4 years ago that winter does this to me....there are other factors but our grey winter weather is the consistent variable.

When I'm down I don't want to interact much, which I know makes me feel even worse. However, on those days I don't feel like I'm capable of being a normal, personable human. I just want to sit on a couch and numb out with a massive slice of cheesecake after work....or worse lash out at anyone and everyone. Luckily I don't usually lash out. I usually cry or have a good rant and numb out on sugar and watch TV. I don't even have the ability to write about what's going on.

So I can really only share what those down days are like when I'm experiencing the up days. Like now in the spring when the sun has me feeling chipper and awake most of the time. That said, I believe that what I experience is the typical SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) and not full depression even though SAD has all the makings of depression. The difference is that as soon as the sun comes out, my SAD disappears, depression doesn't work the same.....though I'm certainly no expert.

So I'm going to do a little series of posts on how I tackled my SAD this past year. Because I came closer this year to addressing the issue than I have in any previous year and I think it's worth sharing.

Step #1: Warmth and retail therapy
One of the difficult things about winter is the cold. When I'm down I get tight and when I'm cold I get even tighter. This makes it hard to relax and even harder to feel happy. So step one for beating my winter blues was to purchase and wear the necessary clothing to be comfortable in the cold.

Hello, new winter jacket! There were serious requirements for this jacket as it had to cover multiple uses. (I'm thrifty and not always stylishly so.) It had to be relatively waterproof and have a very good hood to block the wind and rain we get so much of in the winter. It had to also double as a ski-jacket, have close fitting sleeves, and it had to be either a bright colour or a light colour. Bright or light colours make you more visible when walking at night (it's night at 4:45 in the winter here!) from the bus. This is important because nearly being hit by vehicles or just knowing that you are close to invisible in a black/dark coat is uncomfortable. Once the coat was found and bought and loved, I was warm outside!

Note, some people may think, "just use an umbrella, girl." But the wind and rain here are not always condusive to umbrellas. I've had many turn inside out and nearly gotten stuck in the eye a number of times with umbrellas so I needed a better solution.

Being warm inside came at the expense of style sometimes. In order to not freeze in my cubicle, I would wear a long wide scarf draped around my shoulders in the office. Sometimes I'd spend most of the day like that but it was worth it. I was comfortable regardless of what I wore that day (blouse or sweater) and, therefore, happier. Plus I got a lot of use out of my 3 scarves!

At home I also engaged the warm rule. I wore a lot of hoodies and bought new winter lounge wear and didn't hesitate to make a fire in our lovely fireplace on the cold nights. I also always kept a heating pad and a blanket on the couch and usually added a good size lap-cat to enhance the heat. :) The cat is always ready to oblige and have a snuggle.

Step one was probably my favourite step this winter! I highly recommend it.


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