This is the time of year when people start to talk a lot about gratitude and thankfulness. This is also the time of year when the days drastically shorten and leave with more darkness daily than light; that is both literal and figurative.
I don’t remember how many years ago I first heard of “Seasonal Affective Disorder” You may also know it as Winter Blues, or any host of other names that describe how people with ‘normal’ mental health, fall into a slump of sadness or depression during the winter months.
As soon as I knew this was a thing, I knew that this is what I went through every winter, this especially sucks because my birthday is in the middle of December. Winter is only a few months, so I never thought too much about this and having a bit of winter blah is normal for most people. What I missed in my initial assumptions about Seasonal Affective Disorder is that for many it is a precursor or early warning sign for clinical depression.
Depression is one of those things that exist on our planet, that isn’t talked about and usually when it is it’s in hushed tones and amid a throng of misinformation and shame. I, like most people who do not live with depression or do not yet know that they live with depression, I only knew assumptions and shadows of information. I also knew that I was often the happiest, most extroverted person in a room. I love to laugh, dance, meet new people and I enjoy being busy. For those that follow Meyer Briggs I am an ENFP personality type. Granted having the same personality type as Robin Williams, Quentin Tarantino, Dr. Seuss and Muammar Gaddafi should have told me something about potential coming attractions but I digress.
To keep a long story long my depression is not seasonal and has gotten worse over time. My depression is always around, even when I am dealing well and things are “fine” it is in the corners of the room, in the walls, and waiting for me to get home from vacation.
In discovering and living with and through something that can and might take you to the brink, it shines a different light on how you do life and how you feed your soul. I have known since I was nine that my life calling is to be a writer. I have little choice in the matter and when I am not writing, I am not me, when I go long periods without making words, I have difficulty being my best self. Instead of beating my head against that proverbial wall I let writing save my life in the way a person who is drowning has to counter intuitively stop fighting the life preserver in a state of panic.
Writing has taught me bravery and patience and most recently how to live better and differently. I now care for my physical and emotional health more and my writing is clearer, and sharper. My big hairy audacious goal is to publish more often and more widely. Instead of watching other publish with better success and allowing it to tip me head long into anxiety or as I call it depression’s ugly younger sister. I hold my heart open, I feel gratitude for having friends, associates, and examples who are living their dreams and inspiring me to live mine. I now do and write things that scare me. I ask for help. I make my best attempts at grace.
This Thursday I know what is near the top of my gratitude list.