How Winter Kills*

winterWoman & Guy go out for dinner & a movie at the art museum. Pleasant conversation follows – good film, bad audience; good food, bad waiter – as they join the line of cars waiting to exit the parking lot. Woman, sitting in the passenger seat due to her low tolerance for alcohol, looks at her sideview mirror and remembers she got the car – finally, right?! – washed today. Did the mirror get moved? She asks the man if he can see out of her mirror. He doesn’t answer. She waits. She calls his name. He responds with mild defensiveness. She sighs, “it’s just … exhausting!” She presses her palms against her face, hard, and wills herself not to cry.

And just like that – winter depression makes its grand entrance!

Muh-muh-muh-MY winter depression, that is. I don’t want to claim solidarity with people who are cursed with real depression or people whose SAD is debilitating, or with anyone really. Comparison is helpful from the point that a source of discomfort can be identified, whether that’s PMS or SAD or PTSD,  to the point where cures and palliatives can be shared, but beyond that, we’re all fighting our own battles, IMHO.

For example, The Guy’s expression of depression is largely in anxiety; mine is anger. Anger’s been my default unstable emotion since I was a tween, if not earlier. It aims for me first – I am always the primary suspect when anything goes wrong – but tends to take out people close to me as collateral damage – the dog, the Guy, anyone who responds to an email at work with a question that was CLEARLY PRE-ANSWERED IN THE EMAIL YOU ARE RESPONDING TO. SCROLL DOWN, MOTHERFUCKER! SCROOOOOOOOL DOOOOOOOWN!!!

Like many things, the scariest part of the re-emergence of this Deprangry beast is how it exposes my Lack. Of. Control. I take 5000mg of vitamin D every day. I meditate every day; I do yoga and aerobic exercise every day. And still this fuckwad shows up? But for me, the flipside of that scary realization is the palliative of recognizing it as a disorder, which is a lot better than believing that I’m just a terrible person. Because that’s what it feels like. Deprangry didn’t just happen while we were sitting in the car at the Walker. It’s been swimming under the ice for at least a month, snapping at the water and searching for an airhole to leap through and dig its fishy teeth into my face.

Pay Attention to Me!!!

Says the fish. Some kind of fish that has teeth and lives in Minnesota. A muskie? We’ll go with a muskie. What does it want from me, anyway? I honestly don’t know, but even though recognizing my lack of control is spiritually important, doing shit is physically important. For some people that means a prescription or adjustment of dosage. For some it means a full-spectrum light. Either one of those might do me some good, but I am one of the lucky ones, so I have other options. I had already planned to give up refined sugar for Lent. That’s a huge addiction and mood dictator for me, so it’s important. (I’m an equal opportunity sufferer – Yom Kippur, Lent, I’d do Ramadan if I thought I could function without eating during the day. I really don’t.)

The other important things are to not take myself seriously and to let myself be.

So … stop believing that I’m a terrible person, and be skeptical of the absolute fact that no one likes me and I have no friends. This seems to be a common cold-weather condition. Something about being cold-hearted? Cold as a lack of compassion? Anyway, I hear lovely, well-liked people say this all the time in January & February.

I have to let myself lie in bed late sometimes, and I have to play board games and do stuff without a purpose higher than staying relatively stable and entertained. Sarah Silverman’s most recent standup and the Oscar Nominated Short Documentaries did the job today. In very different ways. Again, I am lucky enough to be able to laugh so hysterically that Guy had to stop Speck of Dust for 2 full minutes, and to be heartened and inspired by the acts of bravery and resilience and kindness in the documentaries, rather than drowning in the horrors they were responding to.

All of this is to say, I haven’t been able to compose a blog post for a while, because it’s all just too overwhelming right now. But I’ll be fine soon. And I have many things to discuss with you all.


*bonus points for any Yaz fans

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