Truth be told I’ve been struggling since January really.
I hear you, what have I got to struggle with?
Well the thing is that sometimes when you are struggling, you don’t necessarily KNOW what it is that you’re struggling with. On paper, what do I have to struggle with? I have a happy marriage with my soul mate, we have a roof over our head, and good jobs, as do our offspring. With the exception of my hips and hormones I seem to be in good health. Sure I could do with losing a few pounds – 28 to be fair – but I can get out of bed without help and I have (most of) my brain cells.
I started January with flu. I was laid up for over a week and it is many years since I have been that ill and felt that low. I had planned on getting back into my running following Christmas. MrS had promised to support me and in the end he got a couple of weeks’ head start on me. When I did finally feel like getting up and doing the Couch to 5K (again for the 4th time in 8 years) my super new corrective trainers felt amazing on my recently repaired hip. Unfortunately, they were also “over correcting” the other hip that didn’t need it. Within a couple of weeks, that hip was painful, so the running stopped again. I was getting quite despondent by this point; the year hadn’t exactly got off to the best start. I went back to the running shop and they let me change my shoes for a less aggressive pair. Sadly, it didn’t seem to make much difference.
So the trainers having be sitting under the bed since end of February. Because I’ve been too scared to test my body again.
We had such a wonderful, restorative week in Cornwall at the start of March, despite the weather, but the minute I had to come back to reality (ie work) it all seemed too much effort again. Including this blog. What on EARTH do I have to say that anyone wants to read anyway. I have nothing to write about. Nothing to say. I started many a post and then just thought “pffft, someone else will have written this before. And better than me”. So there they all sat, languishing in the dreaded drafts folder. Even when I was actually moved to write something the thought that it was basically crap stopped me bothering to publish.
It becomes a “thing”, this non-writing. You start a post, but the back story is so convoluted (because the post about the back story is sitting in the drafts folder from when you decided it was crap) that it’s all such an EFFORT to explain. So you don’t. I couldn’t cope with Twitter and Facebook as I just felt it was sucking my energy, it was all too much. I couldn’t hold a conversation on either of them without saying to myself “oh what’s the point” when I was halfway through a tweet or reply.
Then a few things happened at once. No one said anything directly about my SAD. No one (including the slightly bewildered MrS) said “pull yourself together” or “What IS wrong with you?”
Firstly, someone at work came to “seek my advice about bloggy things”. Not many people at work know about my blog, just a few people who I’ve told and a couple I haven’t (they’re analysts, they can find shit out). At the end of our chat he asked how my blogging was going and I said “It isn’t” and told him that I felt I had nothing to say at the moment. He replied “but your son has just gone to Australia for a year, you could write about how you feel about that” and off he wandered and I was thinking “yeah, it’s not that simple though” but a little voice said “yes it is”.
Then, I had a conversation with a wise person I know. “My troubles are insignificant to others for goodness sake” and she replied “And that's the other nonsense we do. Compare our woes to others and then feel twice as bad!”
The final thing was music. I used to listen to music on my commute every day when I first moved here but for some reason I stopped. A couple of weeks back I was listening to the radio before we left for work and I remembered that I had a radio on my ipod. That morning I listened to the radio on the train and I am crediting Sarah Cox and her “half wow-er” for finally seeing off my SAD.
SAD. Even the name of it sounds innocuous. People think it’s a made up thing, like they used to think ME is a made up thing (its nickname, “yuppie flu” is most disparaging and yet ME remains, long after the yuppies have left us).
Even I am guilty of trying to dismiss my own SAD as “insignificant in comparison to other mental health issues”, because real proper mental health issues aren’t caused by the weather, obvs.
But of course it is significant. It’s a chemical imbalance the same as all mental health issues and it’s significant to me. It’s not just the “Winter Blues”, there is a difference. SAD causes, amongst other things, depression, sleep problems, lethargy, overeating, anxiety and poor cognitive function, whilst in “winter blues” depression and anxiety are usually absent.
In all seriousness I don’t just credit Sarah Cox with seeing off my SAD, it’s a combination of several things, the three things above, the fact that the sun DID shine this week (not only did it shine but it was warm) but also, finally, I stopped thinking that running was my only hope. I dug out those trainers and I walked. I walk a lot during my day anyway – easily pushing over 12,000 steps usually – as part of my commute but now I’m adding on a walk in the evening every other day. No dog, no camera and no social media. Just me and my iPod. I’ve started downloading podcasts again. I am also reading Frazzled by Ruby Wax. It makes interesting reading, and I’m about to try her 6-week mindfulness course.
And hopefully, in a few weeks’ time, SAD will be a distant memory for me and my trainers.