The Pit

6 Mar

To follow up on yesterday’s post about the winter, I want to address a more serious winter side effect. This winter (and most winters) didn’t just sideline me physically. It sidelined me mentally. The “winter blues” are real, seasonal changes in mood and well-being is a thing. Melancholy, apathy, lethargy, whacky moods, generally feeling some kinda way, all of this hit me hard. Starting around November, and rolling on through until, well, pretty much last week.

Truth be told, until last week I didn’t even want to run. I didn’t really want to do anything. When I was in my mental health diagnostics class (and my cognitive behavioral therapy class) (and my clinical practice class) (and probably at least 3 other classes I’m now forgetting) in grad school we learned about anhedonia. For those of you not in the field, anhedonia is defined as the inability to experience pleasure from activities usually found enjoyable. I remember thinking in early February, “I now know what means.” All I wanted to do was watch episodes of Parks and Recreation, play Candy Crush and listen to audiobooks. Period. Not run, or read, or make a craft, write a blog post, see friends, or spend real quality time with my husband. Anhedonia, my friends, at his/her/its finest.

Over the past few weeks I’ve felt the mental cloud start to lift, and I had this mental image of me climbing back out of a pit. Like I spent the winter in a pit, a pit that I imagined would be called “The Pit of Despair” (I listened to Cary Elwes “As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of The Princess Bride” while I was in “the pit”), and I was finally getting back up towards the top.

In case any of you have felt this way, are currently feeling this way, are also suffering from the winter blues, or often find yourself in a general state of melancholy.  Here is a little advice to help you climb back out:

1. Read this blog entry by The DIY Couturier: 21 Tips to Keep Your Shit Together When You’re Depressed  (Full credit for these tips goes to Rosalind Robertson, the author of The DIY Couturier, who I have not met, but was seriously inspired by)

2. Surround yourself by a support network. Even if that network is one person. Find someone(s) who you can talk to, who will listen, who will be there when you’re feeling down, and who won’t judge you for how you’re feeling.

3. Get off the couch. As physics has shown, an object in motion, stays in motion. So get up, turn off the TV, go outside, hell, even just go into another room. Makes plans with someone and follow through, sometimes just knowing that someone is counting on you can give you the push you need.

4. I fully and totally second The DIY Couturier’s number 17. Turn off the external drama. We have a year round rule in the Main house “Comedies only.” When people ask me if I watch Scandal or House of Cards or Insert-Other-Drama-Here the answer is no. Parks and Rec, 30 Rock, How I Met Your Mother, Big Bang Theory, that’s where it’s at over here. I also do not watch the news, and I limit my Facebook clicks to cute kittens, silly quizzes, and lists of “Life Hacks.”

5. Baby steps. Small wins. Acknowledge them all, and be proud of them. There are some days that I’m super pumped that I unloaded the dishwasher and loaded it back up, and then walked to work. Win! Let’s see what we can do tomorrow!

Please know, if you’ve also found yourself in the pit this winter, sometimes I fall into the pit, you fall into the pit, we all fall into the pit. Little by little, the sun will shine longer and brighter, the top of the pit won’t seem so far away. And now to end on a lighter note:

 

 

 

 

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