I had a pretty significant revelation today.
First, can I be honest? Over the past two weeks, I've been kind of sinking. Mothering my children has been overwhelming me. Homeschooling my kindergartener is about to take. me. out. y'all. And I've been paralyzed by everyday tasks... laundry, groceries, cooking... even responding to texts and emails from friends.
Revelation: it's winter.
Okay, so technically the first day of winter isn't until December 21. But work with me here. Can we agree it's wintertime?
Winter & I don't usually get along very well. Less daylight - let alone sunshine... it does something funky to me.
Yes, I've heard all about Seasonal Affective Disorder - but this can be pretty discouraging because I already take an antidepressant every day of the year (we agreed we're being honest, right?). So, seeing as I'm already "on something," I should be fine through winter, right? Wrong.
Winter, I've learned, is its own animal when it comes to my mental health. I don't mean this as an excuse or some sort of "woe is me" scenario. It just is what it is. And remembering it and respecting it is a huge part of the battle for me.
Just for fun, let's pretend you have a gluten intolerance. (Sorry.) But, you forget. (I don't know how you could forget that, but go with it.) And so you start eating amazing glutenous food, but then you feel sick and blah and bad but you don't know why. So you pray - you were already doing that, but apparently you need to do more of it - but why aren't things getting better? So then you feel a whole other kind of bad because you don't know how to fix what's wrong and WHY CAN'T YOU JUST SUCK IT UP AND FEEL BETTER ALREADY.
But then you remember you have a gluten intolerance. So you cut out gluten - which is hard - but not as miserable as the effects of ignoring or forgetting your body's sensitivity to gluten.
Okay, so I can't "cut out" winter. But I can find some relief in taking the mystery out of the equation. I'm not just mysteriously feeling worse and Oh no, am I getting sick, or Oh crap, do I have Mono or something, or OMG I AM A WASTE OF A PERSON I'M ALREADY ON MEDS AND I STILL CAN'T KEEP MY SHIT TOGETHER.
It is winter. Not some metaphorical "winter." Actual winter. Which has actual effects on the way my brain works. A "winter intolerance," if you will. And since I have lived through a few winters before this one, I have found that surviving winter requires some specific things from me:
- Remember it's winter -- pretty basic, but you might notice that it's December 10, and it just occurred to me today, so we'll keep this one at the top of the list
- Get quality sleep -- stop laying on the couch late at night, nodding off in front of the TV or computer, saying "I'm too tired to go to bed." What does that even mean!?
- Eat nourishing foods -- for me, this bar can be set relatively low - I just mean do better than a spoonful of peanut butter and the leftovers from my kids' plates for lunch; but this also includes being mindful of my coffee and alcohol consumption (which also affects my sleep habits)
- Get in regular, good, intense workouts -- as in, walking upstairs doesn't cut it; work up a good sweat and get the endorphins going
Unfortunately, the above could also be titled "Top Four Hardest Things to do When I Generally Feel Like Crap During Winter." But the alternative - ignoring the needs of my brain and my body and spiraling further down - is worse. I know this. And armed with this knowledge, I feel a bit less out of control. And a bit more like myself.
Someone else's survival list may look different from mine, and that's okay. The point is, gosh it feels good to know I'm not just going crazy for crazy's sake. There is something actually going on here - and there are things I can do to help myself feel (more) human again.
Lord, You wired me this way for some reason. I can wish it away all day long - or I can own it and walk with You through it.