Today it is 8 degrees outside. Through my open window above my computer screen, stomach the sky is gray and the branches on my giant sycamore are waving in the wind. I look to the ground and the grass has died and is long gone. They say it may snow outside and the thought of it has me on edge because it is one more day I won’t venture outdoors. I can sense the cabin fever in my children. I feel as if I am failing them because they are experiencing no connection with the outside world this week, much like last week.
There have been days like this I can feel my depression flowing in like a tidal wave. And I wish I could make it go away. Winter stirs these feelings in me.
I panic because we are halfway through the school year. Will we complete this year’s assignments? How long will we have to work? Will it extend past the children in public school?
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) affects 5% of the population. What is SAD? According to PubMed Health the symptoms can include :
- Increased appetite with weight gain (weight loss is more common with other forms of depression)
- Increased sleep (too little sleep is more common with other forms of depression)
- Less energy and ability to concentrate
- Loss of interest in work or other activities
- Sluggish movements
- Social withdrawal
- Unhappiness and irritability
Years of experience have taught me that I must move forward anyway. This is one of the most important things I can do for my family. There is no luxury of hiding in my room, in my bed, in the dark. I look towards Bible verses such as this one:
“From the ends of the earth I call to you, I call as my heart grows faint; lead me to the rock that is higher than I.” Psalm 61:2
Days when I feel as though I am drowning… Lord, please lift me up.
And the Lord calmly whispers to my soul:
“There is a place near me where you may stand on a rock.” Exodus 33:21
There are some positive ways to combat these emotions and I try to do them regularly or else I may do nothing but dwell in the course of my day.
- Healthy eating. Did you see above where weight gain can be a direct result of depression? There is great truth in this fact. When you stop taking care of yourself it is easy to fall into a landslide of rejecting food or overeating. A direct result of these eating habits are more depression, because your body is not receiving the vitamins and minerals it needs, but also—how will you feel when your winter blues lift and you must find a way to revise your eating habits in order to fix what you have done to your body?
- Getting up is half the battle. When you make yourself get out of bed in the morning it is exponentially easier to keep yourself out of bed!
- Climb the mountain. What is one of your mountains during the day? Is it checking schoolwork? Is it folding laundry? Making dinner? Commit to climbing at least one of those mountains. You will be surprised at how a change in routine can draw you to accomplish other tasks.
- Get dressed. Brush your hair. If you wear makeup, slap some on. I used to have a bad routine when it came to doing these things especially if I had no plans to go out that day. I changed my focus from doing it for myself to doing it for my husband. The first many times I did this the kids would ask where we were going that day. I simply said, “Nowhere, I am doing this for your Daddy.” And “Daddy” appreciated it!
- Check their schoolwork. As in, immediately after they finish it. You may not feel like doing this later and then BAM… you are buried in it. An additional tip.. I had to focus on two subjects starting out, math and language arts. Those two subjects were to be done every day without fail. What made this easier was having a solid curriculum. It is very easy for them to pick up their assignments and get going on them in the morning. This, in turn, made it far easier to assist them and answer questions. We were all in this together. The rest of the subjects were easier because we’d already begun our day.
- What will be your legacy? We have such precious few days with our children. The bulk of their lives will be spent out in the world on their own. What kind of mother would you like them to remember? What kind of parent do you wish for them to become? This is one of the big ones, ladies.
I don’t know if the winter blues ever go away. I cannot answer something I have yet to experience. However I do know a little goes a long way when you seek to take charge of your well-being. One baby step at a time… I know for a fact that a person cannot change everything immediately. (Or within a week or month or sometimes a year!) Take the first step towards the rock and give yourself over to God to help you through the rest.