There are chalk drawings littering my driveway’s black top. This morning, I sat in the back of my SUV with a mug of tea and watched Sophia pedal her bike in circles. Later she and Jack enjoyed lunch seated at their picnic table on the back deck. These are all very mundane and run of the mill things but they are also things I would be loathe to do if it weren’t sixty-five degrees and sunny. Spring is definitely making its way into our area. I don’t want to say that with an exhausted “finally” because it wasn’t a bad winter. In fact, it was a great winter. I made it through winter this year, which doesn’t sound like a huge accomplishment but for me I feel like I won an Oscar.
I did not want to go through another winter like I did last year and, if I’m being honest, the winter before that. I have no doubt that if I had went to a doctor they would most likely have diagnosed me with a mild case of depression, probably seasonal depression but depression nonetheless. The days felt like they were never ending. I can still remember the bone aching exhaustion I felt. I tried to write it off as a symptom of being a stay-at-home mom to two very young kids but I knew even then it wasn’t the whole story. When a few warm and bright days popped up out of the grey, snowy slush last year and I felt my mood, my outlook, my energy make (what felt like) a complete one-eighty I knew then that it was more than just monotony and the physical labor of raising kids. And I knew I would need to do better next year.
I had a plan this year to combat the winter blues. I was going to get enough sleep, stick to my schedule at the gym, get out of the house often, and stay on top of my self-care. For the most part I did those things. It all felt so simple. I started to think maybe my efforts weren’t as big of a help as I thought they were, after all we didn’t get much snow or cold this year, it was an “easy” winter. I wasn’t trapped in my house like I had felt I was during previous winters but then I came down with the flu in February and it took me most of the month to recover from. The two weeks I was sick and then resting felt like torture. I didn’t go out much, I schleped around in yoga pants and sweatshirts with wet hair piled on my head and I tried to squeeze in my jobs when I could. I had no energy, no patience. Even after getting eight hours of sleep I felt like I could close my eyes at any point during the day and sleep forever. Once I got back into my routine of gym and interaction with the outside world I started to feel the fog lift.
So you’ll understand why I feel like I not only made it through winter but I kicked winter’s ass. I took away the dread that the dark, cold days held for me. Acknowledging that I need to take better care of myself and put my needs first is a huge step for me. Seeing the results of putting myself and my care first made enough of a lasting impression on me that I’ll do it again next winter or whenever I need it. It feels great to not start the spring off in a deficient and have to work my stamina and mood back to a stable and reliable level. It feels great to know I made it through winter.
As an aside, I don’t want anyone to read this and take away an anti-medication message. I’ve treated my own anxiety with a prescription medication in the past and it made a huge difference. If you need medication and/or another form of therapy to combat your depression or anxiety by all means take care of yourself the most effective way possible. The goal is to be the best you, not about how you got to that point.