February was so long that it lasted into March*

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.

10 thoughts on “February was so long that it lasted into March*

  1. It’s Dar. Lovely Lovely Dar. From the album Mortal City. I think it’s the second or third song on the disk.

    I, too, have lost to February. And I have been trying not to blog about it, because I feel that if everyday I blogged “I feel gray and yucky, and as if all my peripheral vision has been eaten away by fuzziness” then I would quickly lose all my readers.

    Generally, once I get through the horror of my birthday I start to feel better. Once I can open windows and let sweet air blow in and sit outside without freezing things start to have color again.

  2. I hear you. I get down right dreary just after the Holidays. I usually call them the blahs. Glad March is here.

  3. Come to Florida, it feels like June already!
    In all seriousness, you are definitely not alone. If anyone could control their depression, i doubt anyone would suffer from it. i just hope that the beautiful Spring around the corner brings you endless joy.

  4. Yeah, you are definitely not alone. Twice in my life I have managed to escape for a few days to a sunny tropical location, and that has helped immensely, but those of us who aren’t rich can’t do that most years. My sister has one of those full-spectrum lights and she does her yoga while sitting underneath it in the winter, and she swears that helps the winter depression. I don’t know. I do know that it is good to say out loud, even just to yourself, that you’re *not* fine — that it helps not to pretend you are. Because at least then you’re not trying to reconcile trying to believe you’re fine with knowing you’re not, which is crazy-making all by itself.

    It will get better, that much is certain — hang in there and be kind to yourself till then.

  5. I have rainy days. You know those days? They happen at all times of the year, and they can last for weeks up in Cullowhee (it was on the news recently that we get enough rainfall to qualify us for a rain forest!). Just seeing those clouds roll in makes me sad. I usually just try to keep upbeat music on, all the lights in my room on, and not go outside (is that bad?).

  6. You’re not alone –

    If it gets really bad (and in Maine, it can) I (shock) go fake tanning once or twice – it really really helps.

    Spring is very very close.

  7. I know that I always get the worst in winter, too. We used to say the same thing about February in college, so much so that we used to hold little celebrations on the 28th (or 29th) out of the great happiness that it was over. I wish I had something brilliant to impart. I haven’t figure it out at all.

  8. That song is so, so sad that I can’t even listen to it when I’m feeling down. Gotta switch to What Do You Hear In These Sounds or Better Things.

    I hope your crocuses come up soon (and that you recognize them when they do).


  9. it sounds like you have seasonal affective disorder, known as SAD. As many as half a million american suffer from SAD. You should consult a professional and seek light treatment or therapy during winter months.

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