I’ve been mulling over this post for several days. I’m still not sure of it–not sure what it should say, or if I really want to put it out there in the universe. It won’t be light or humorous, and it might show a side of me I don’t like revealing, and so I have to ask myself–isn’t there enough seriousness in the world without your contribution, and do you really want everyone to know you’re not impervious? The truth is, the only way through darkness is just that–through it. And you already knew I wasn’t impervious, didn’t you?
Here’s the thing: I get depressed in the winter. I’ve never been diagnosed, I don’t have a shrink, and the only antidepressants I’ve ever ingested are St. John’s Wort and crushed pineapple. My funk is self-diagnosed, it is inconsistent, it comes and goes. It is all gray and edgeless and smoky, like fog, and like fog, it is unbearably thick at times, and sometimes it isn’t there at all.
I call my depression February, because it is usually at its strongest during that dreary month, but sometimes February starts in November or December, and sometimes it lasts well into March. Some Februaries are better than others, but this year the shortest month has been one of my very longest. I don’t know why, and this bothers me; one of my strengths is knowing things, arming myself with information. It’s difficult to gather information when your strongest inclination is to sit and stare out the window or, at best, sit and stare at “Friends” on the television. When the actual month of February is over I find myself more and more able to surface, so I know there is a control button somewhere, some little person in my brain that says, “Oh, okay, it’s March now–let’s crack the window a little at a time, give her some air and light.” I feel like I ought to have more control over this, but in the midst of my February I just don’t.
My rational self, who is getting stronger by the day these days, wonders why I’m not more proactive about this February business. If I know it’s coming I should shield myself against it, right? Perhaps, but after all this time (I identified and named February in college) I still find myself blindsided when the fog starts creeping up, and by the time I am fully aware that it has returned I’m at a loss, and I’m lost. By the time February is over I’m so relieved to be free of it that I opt not to think of it–until it comes creeping back the following year and the cycle begins again.
I’ve a sneaking suspicion that I’m not alone, and while I certainly don’t expect any of you to give me the key to overcoming my February, or send me the secret potion that prevents the inexorable weighty sadness that is depression, it’s a small relief to confess it to you here. Saying “I’m fine, I’m okay” all of the time when really I’m not at all is exhausting, but admitting to this comptuer screen that I’m not fine–well, I feel a little lighter already. Now that you know, there’s no need to ask what’s wrong, because I can say February, and you will understand. You will know that all the things I’m not coping with, the everyday stuff that is part of living in the world, are not the cause of my heaviness; and you will know I’ll be coping with those things in due time, because already the weight is lifting. It is, after all, March.
*There is a special prize for the person who correctly identifies the origin of this post’s title.