It’s not been great. I’ve had a difficult year as is with mental health stuff (more on that here) but this month felt like shit piling onto more shit. My heater broke - an expensive one, difficult to fix - right before that cold snap week. My house, which I rented last November, is not cute in winter the way it seemed in summer. It’s dark, cold and damp, totally unpleasant to live in. My chopping boards grew mould on them. THAT kind of cold/damp vibe.
My anxiety issues have revved up to levels I haven’t experienced since before I went on anti-depressants, slamming my mind with fantasies. Not the fun kind, the traumatic, crippling kind. “You would be happier if you moved to the remote country and lived on a farm, you are running out of time to do it though!! Quick! Quit your job! Dump your boyfriend! Don’t tell anyone where you’ve gone! Go live nomadically or regret it FOREVER!”
I know enough about the way my brain works to understand this is all a fear response - I love to run, hate to stay and fight. I get a great job and a fantastic partner, and suddenly my whole being wants to exit stage left. The most plaguing thoughts are those of some idyllic life that can only be lived with absolutely no strings connecting me to other places or people. I also know that hey, technology breaks. You make bad decisions and learn from them (note to self, always ask if a property is north facing in future).
But it feels like it’s all hitting me like one big suckerpunch this month, and it’s been hard to keep my head above water. Add in a demanding job and I’m this strange mix of overwhelmed and stressed, yet also unmotivated and depressed.
Yes, these are some serious first-world problems. I’m very aware that my life is chaos because I’ve made it that way, that there are people dying but also many, many people struggling with issues outside of their control, whether that’s financially, health-wise or situational. I don’t want to maximise my problems while minimising others, but as we all know - your struggles are your struggles, and while it’s important to have perspective, it doesn’t diminish the effect of your personal issues on you.
Maybe you don’t have the demanding job, but you have the demanding kids or you’re searching for work. You’re caring for a sick parent, or going through a break up. All difficult experiences as is, but you’re finding your mind is going haywire at the same time, and suddenly small issues that usually wouldn’t affect you so badly are magnified tenfold. The more people I speak to in my life about this feeling of being overwhelmed and consequently unmotivated, the more I’ve realised it’s not just me right now.
I’m undecided on whether astrology is to blame, but I definitely think this whole shorter-days-longer-nights winter business is part of the reason. It’s really difficult to stay positive when you get a handful of sunshine hours and it’s already pitch black when you head home from work. There’s not a lot of natural motivation to get out into nature, exercise or do anything besides sit and wallow in your feelings when it’s dark in the morning, and dark in the late afternoon. I’m not even making this up - it’s got a name. SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) is a form of depression or mania connected to the seasons - some go into a depressive state during autumn and winter, feeling unmotivated and exhausted, others feel anxious and agitated during spring/summer. I’m definitely of the former, and you might be, too.
It’s also probably to do with COVID and the constant uncertainty we face. At any point we run the risk of landing ourselves in a hotspot where we have to lockdown for 14 days. Or worse, catch the virus. We worry for our family and friends, especially those who are more vulnerable. We worry about the world and how we’ll control a pandemic that seems uncontrollable. It’s a lot of pressure on our minds that we really didn’t have before, at least not in Australia.
So what do we do with all of this chaos? For me, I’m trying to give myself a break. I choose not to feel bad for cancelling plans that feel overwhelming at this time. I’m going to cry when I feel like it and just let it all out, even if it’s over a broken heater. I will care for myself the way I would a friend going through a break up - hot chai with honey, re-runs of Grey’s Anatomy, and reminding myself that it’s okay to not be okay sometimes.
I read on one horoscope that this month is a good period to be kind to ourselves. Maybe there is something in all that astrology stuff, after all.