One of the biggest things I deal with during this particular time of the year is the big D. Most people know what I speak of, and I’m sure many of you are sitting on the other side of your computer nodding in complete and utter understanding.
Depression, as many know, is when a chemical imbalance in our brains result in a disruption of some-sort, creating a sort of chaos in our bodies that causes hopelessness. Most times, depression is the result of a tragedy a person experiences, whether it be a death, break-up, or any of loss of “something”….Sometimes, in my case, it could be just a simple explanation of the weather 5 feet from me. It is one of my biggest struggles I face with in life, and every year I pray and pray that somewhere, somehow, this feeling of sadness would end.
So, let’s talk about Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)….
It goes without saying that everyone, both of human and animal alike, NEED sunlight. The vitamins coming from the sun gives off so much energy and a pulse of life itself, there is no wonder why people love to “Sun bathe”. Sadly, for me, I’m a Celt by blood. A mixture of Irish, English, Scottish, and German. So, putting my pasty self outside for more than a few moments will cause my skin to scream. But that doesn’t mean I don’t love to be out in the sun. It’s why I am a morning person, so to speak…(I say that because during the Monday-Friday deal, I’m not really worth talking to in the morning, but that’s a whole other story LOL)
In the Northern Hemisphere, at the time of Litha, otherwise known as Midsummer or the Summer Solstice, the Sun is at his prime, beaming down with such veracity, it even finds the shadiest of places. But sadly, after that prime day of days, the Sun begins its fall. And within 6 months, the Sun, although still shining, does not have the luster and awe that we had just a few months before. For many people, this time is the beginning of Winter. And we start our slow climb back to the manifestation of the gifts the Sun gives us in the Spring and Summer.
So, during the time after the holiday and New Year season ends, there is a period of silence. Nothing really happens until the next little break, which is Valentine’s Day. And then, after that, is the Spring Equinox, Ostara, or as many know it to be, Easter.
What do we do during this period? Well, for me, I kind of go crazy and start cleaning and regrouping my life, creating goals for the warmer weather to come, all while taking care of my mind, body and soul, who is sadly ill-at-ease over the lack of warm sunlight, growth and overall life.
It’s why I love living myself according to the Celtic Seasonal Calendar. It makes sense for me, because I always was like a month early to prepare for each season/holiday. In just a few weeks, MY Winter will be over. On February 1st, I celebrate the feast day of St. Bridget, who holds the keys of the kingdom for my favorite Season: Spring.
February 1st in the Celtic Calendar is the Season of Imbolc (Pronounced IMM-OLCK). It is the beginning of the Springtime, the time where our Mother Earth is stirring and beginning her slow process of “waking up”. Just as we, each morning, open our eyes, stretch our arms and legs, and get reacquainted with the morning and the light, so does Mother Earth. The soil, through its Winter hibernation, begins to warm up, allowing the seeds within the soil to take heed and blossom. One of the greatest gifts we can get in the Early Springtime are Crocuses. They are Mother Nature’s quiet little trumpets, usually peeking up within the snow and cold ground, alerting us all that warm weather IS coming back. That is the beauty of this planet. Of where I live. We know Spring follows Winter. It’s how life is.
So, what do I do in the meantime? Even as I type this out, on this lazy Sunday morning, I feel sad. Sad because going outside would require me to bundle up because the air is SO cold, it would actually hurt my skin. Make my eyes water. Even the “smell” of life, is not there.
What makes me gaga over being outside? Feeling the grass beneath my bare feet. Smelling the seasonal flowers breezing through the air. Seeing the magnificent trees, shrubs and bushes blossom with beautiful green leaves…In the Celtic myths, Autumn and Winter meant Jack Frost was out and about, dropping hints of frost and ice among everything alive, telling them it’s time to die or go to sleep….In the Spring and Summer Months, Jack in the Green is our go-to guy. He is the one who warms the skies and the Earth, and instead of frost, we have beautiful droppings of dew.
(one of MANY Jack in the Green Parades held every year in Europe)
This is what makes my pulse quicken, my heart smile and my soul beam. Warmth, light….like Persephone feeling so out of touch down in the Underworld, where she could not use her Gift with the Living World, and patiently waited until it was time for her to go back up, and be among the Living again, to feel the warmth of the Sun on her skin…Yes, I feel the exact same way.
Since going off all Depression and Anxiety medicine, and opting for my Kratom intake, I can honestly say it hasn’t been TOO smooth sailing. Of course it would be easy for me to put some chemicals into my body and numb myself…but it would be a disservice to me to do so. I know not everyone agrees with me on that. I always welcome other’s opinions and ideas…it’s just…it’s not for me. I’ve been very careful over the last several years to deal with my addiction to pain killers…and for someone like me who is always in some kind of pain, it’s an easy excuse for me to pop a pill and call it a day.
No, as much as times like these where I wish I had something to numb my physical and emotional pain of the Winter, I know that in the end, it helps me SEE who I really am, because I am completely bare and open to the senses entirely. I feel things now more than I ever have. So, yes, the depression sucks. But I also know, that there are times I feel such immense joy, that knowing I wouldn’t even feel an inch of that when trying to control my depression with medicine, gives me the honest knowing that I’m doing the right thing.
Don’t get me wrong: I think about taking something every day. Even right now, I feel incredibly blue (Get it? Winter “blues”?) and staring at the walls may be what I need right now to numb the sadness of the lack of life outside….
This depression began in 2001. And slowly progressed as the years went on…Now that I am in the beginning stages of my body slowing down and turning into the Crone, I feel this even more.
How do I deal with it? It’s a demon inside of me I deal with every day between Thanksgiving and about Mid-March. For some people it’s less time, and for others, it’s more. It feels like the Postpartum depression I had for the first 4 weeks after my son’s birth. It begins as a nagging feeling, that turns into a feeling of dread. Dread? Yup, dread. It overtakes me like a demon overtakes a human…I cry at everything and anything, I sleep more, I stare more, and I tend to lash out more. My husband, sons, parents, sisters and closest friends know it the depression talking. The know this silly little hobbit doesn’t usually act like this, and know how to approach me during my times of struggle. They know and respect the fact I don’t want chemicals in my body. They are patient and kind, and allow me the time and patience I need for myself to understand how my body reacts to this rough season.
(seriously, whoever created these are a GENIUS)
Kratom certainly helps, but, it is just a band aid. It does NOT take away the full feelings. But it does lessen the load. And the best part? It does not numb me. If there could be anything that I hate, it is the numbness of my body, mind and soul. To lose the essence of your life just because there’s a period of time each year where I feel sad, it’s just not enough for me to make that kind of decision. That’s not for me to judge anyone who DOES.
So, for the next few weeks, I will be quietly tinkering away at my new home. Putting things in their place, and dealing with the sadness I not only feel for the cold months, but for other things I cannot control. It’s a continued lesson in humility, and I love that I’m always up for the challenge, no matter how tired and sad I’m feeling at the moment.
What makes me happy during the colder months?
- Music – Usually Celtic/Irish/Scottish music, 80’s Pop, and some Sacred World music, from either Lisa Thiel, Snatnam Kaur, or Spiral Dance
- Painting – I am still trying to find my easle, but the moment I do, I’m off!
- Festivals – There is an amazing Scottish and Irish Festival that happens in February, and it truly lifts up my spirits EVERY. SINGLE. TIME.
- Garden Planning – For the first time since 2007, I will have my own garden again. Planning it has definitely helped tremendously during this time.
- Snuggles – My boys know all these need to do is snuggle up to me, it will bring a big smile. I love my family.
- Cleaning – I tend to light A LOT of incense that smells of lavender, jasmine, and other springy smells…as well as light lots of candles…and the smell of Pine Sol? OMG Don’t go there with me…it’s like heaven haha!
- Ritual – if there is anything I love to do, is to be in ritual with myself. That time you give to yourself, whether it is meditating, chanting, praying, or even something simple like taking a nice, warm bath…yes, it helps a great deal.
I know there are probably more, but these are the big ones. Tell me about what you do! I am always looking for suggestions.
Lots of Hobbit Love,