Even though I have my birthday to look forward to January is a dire month. I’m so glad to see the back of it – January, not my birthday.
More than once I’ve woken up, looked outside and swore that the clock was wrong. It couldn’t possibly be 7.00am could it? It’s too dark, I can still see the moon and stars. The urge to turn my back on the day is strong. How lovely it would be to crawl back into bed and pretend that the greyness outside won’t get me. But there is no hiding place and the best thing to do with anything that you dread is to face it.
I feel I can write this because I’ve been diagnosed with depression myself and, although I haven’t taken any medication, I have had some fantastic counselling and sought other alternative therapies that have helped me through, and out the other side. I have never been hospitalised. Let me state right from the start that I am not in any way trying to dismiss depression as something that can quickly and easily be overcome, and many people have such severe clinical depression that my heart goes out to them in their darkness. But for many of us this is not the case and if you do get depressed during the winter months it’s best to be proactive and have an armoury of things that keep you afloat until such time that you feel well again.
I’ve always thought I was tough and strong, mentally and physically – and I am – but we can all reach our limit and instead of realising that I was at my limit, and taking time to rest and recharge I simply carried on regardless. I didn’t even realise I was depressed. I thought the feeling of heaviness and inertia was due to age. I had no enthusiasm for going anywhere and food was something I needed to eat to survive. There was no pleasure or taste to anything, no sense of occasion. Nothing could move me from the swamp I had found myself in.
I gradually learnt to be kind to myself. All the best remedies are simple ones don’t you find? It’s the little things that make the difference.
So in my armoury I have:
Walking – getting out in the fresh air helps enormously, whatever the weather. It’s no good looking out of the window at the sunshine and thinking that’s good enough, you need to get out into it. I love going out when it’s windy and raining, I come back feeling – well, cold and wet mostly, but also invigorated and energised.
Working – always a salvation. No matter what the work is, doing something, anything, takes your mind out of that cyclone of negative thoughts.
Wellies – you need them if you’re going to go jumping in big muddy puddles, don’t you! Nothing like getting back to the playful things of childhood to chase the blues away. A bottle of bubbles is great too. And there’s a reason adult colouring books are selling by the million.
I also have mugs of hot tea, cake, friends, family, good books, good films, woolly blankets, warm slippers and a host of other things that I turn to to make me feel more positive. It’s like giving myself a big hug. We all need a proverbial bag of tricks to get us through until Spring comes around.
It’s not far away now. The daffodils and crocus are popping up already.
What’s in your bag of tricks to chase the blues away?