Tuesday, December 10, 2013

A cold and broken hallelujah

It's mid-December.
I find myself, after a few weeks of denial, in the throws of the winter blues.

I can't decide which is worse--the beginning of the winter blues, when the unthinkably long winter stretches before you in all of its grayness, or the long February days towards the end, when you've woken up and gone back to bed over and over again in the same grayness for so long you can't imagine life any other way.

I keep almost doing drastic things, as a way of coping.
Like cutting all my hair off. Or canceling class for the rest of the semester. Or throwing away most of my clothes.

I can't think straight during winter.

The things I actually do to cope are (so far) less drastic.
Staying up until 2 or 3 am on a regular basis.
Reorganizing my makeup.
Swearing way more often than usual.
A few weeks ago, I read an entire novel in one sitting. And then did it again with a different novel the next day.

I kept looking for pictures of winter to post with this blog.
But none of them felt accurate--they were all glittering snow in the sunshine, or mystical fog in the forest, or serene blue skies.
Because no one actually wants to photograph the day-to-day dirty snow drudgery that winter is most of the time.

I'm far from the darkest place I've ever been, but my winter blues are no less real for that.
This is not the great black dog that has visited me in the past.
But it's a medium-sized gray dog, large enough to demand my attention.

As I write this, a little voice in my head keeps whispering, "Be positive. Be positive. Be positive."
But in the words of this blogger, "Trying to use willpower to overcome the apathetic sort of sadness that accompanies depression is like a person with no arms trying to punch themselves until their hands grow back."

But the bizarre truth is that sometimes, if the depression is small enough--if it's a small, manageable kind of perpetual sadness--it kind of does work.
Punching yourself can make your arms grow back.
I know it sounds insane, but I've done it before.
So I'm trying to do that.
I've got a handful of beautiful things that make it easier to get up in the frozen mornings. Rehearsal with Danielle and Kieffer and Jerry and Emily--the chance to create beautiful and important art.* A smile from my husband. The possibility of baking more things.

And occasionally, you get little gifts that can sustain you for days on end.
Beautiful dances that are full of truth and art and honesty.
Funny and life-affirming movies.
Lovely songs.
Weekend nights at Jack In The Box that are filled with un-repeatable hilarity.
Long talks with good people.
Visits to best friends in Salt Lake City.
And I'm grateful for those things.

And set against the background of gray and snow and night and cold, I think they shimmer with more loveliness to me than they would on their own. So I suppose that while the gray gathers outside, I'll just keep trying to hold those sustaining things up to the light and let them shimmer.

* Theatre is the insanity that keeps me sane. 


Valerie said...

Allow me to recommend vitamin D supplements. I really feel like that make a difference for me.

Kiko said...
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Jules said...

I've always liked winter . . . but winter in Rexburg is hard. The snow starts to look like different variations of snot the longer it drags on, and the gray can get pretty weary. Good luck with your baking, theatre, good friends and film.

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Maile Atkinson said...

Your words are beautiful and honest... You gave my night of sadness some comfort.