How was your Christmas my lovelies? Lately my Google Reader has been inundated with awesome pictures and stories, and after watching this video by The Grumbles, I'm finding it really hard not to procreate. NOW. But not like, right this second obviously, I mean, Adam's at work.
The day of Christmas was lovely. Even if my post title leads you to believe I would be telling a story that might steer you otherwise. There was sleeping in, gift giving, gift receiving, coffee consumed, the most perfect of all cross-country skiing, movie watching and a delightful meal. Oh the meal!
This year though it's the days leading up to Christmas that snuck up on me and kicked me in the gut.
It's no shock to anyone who reads this website for more than a nano second that I struggle with anxiety and depression. I've been to therapy, I'm on medication, and just this summer after a four month lapse in my medication I got myself back on the wagon and have been doing pretty well since.
Until the Alaskan winter showed up that is.
Beyond the normal variety of depression, which is OH SO FUN I should add, I also have the added bonus of suffering something tough from seasonal depression. Also known as S.A.D. The lamest acronym EVER.
I've battled pretty well with this while I lived in the NW which is classically grey, wet, and dark 7-9 months out the year, and I knew the Alaskan winter had its own special dose of darkness in store for me, but I wasn't ready for what it was going to do to my mind.
Starting around mid November we passed what I remember was the darkest point of a NW winter and entered an Alaskan winter. Darkness. Everywhere. What we lack in population density up here, we make up for tenfold in winter darkness.
The affect was gradual. It got harder to get up in the morning. I found myself working out less. Making excuses to finish work and go right to the couch, not moving until bed. I didn't want to make dinner. I didn't want to do much else other than eat peanut butter out of the jar and drown in a liter bottle of wine. One week I realized I did not leave my house, not even to walk to the mailbox for 5 days straight. But I've been here before, so I knew I needed to hold on tight and wait for the solstice. Or February.
Then Christmas hit.
A holiday I've publicly battled with before.
Suddenly I had more to deal with than simply the darkness. This would be my third Christmas in a row without the company of my family, and this year I would be having Adam's family (who no joke I do really love) in my home for 12 days. The idea of a 12 day visit with ANYONE was enough to send my mind reeling.
This holiday, with the expectations and pressures I put on myself is already hard enough for me, but throw in Adam's family in our much smaller home, in the middle of an Alaskan winter and I had a recipe for complete and utter disaster on my hands.
By Tuesday night I found myself laying in bed sobbing. Nothing had really happened, and yet, I wanted to peal the skin off my body. My depression manifests itself as absolute hostility when the people around me aren't as miserable as I am. I become short, hard to be around and downright cold. All I want to do is lie on the couch and get wasted and for some reason other people DARE to be happy. Or talk. Or God forbid SMILE in my general direction. The game of, "What should we do today?" is so hard for me to be around because I am clenching my teeth to keep from screaming, "WHO THE FUCK CARES?"
I knew this wasn't going to work.
So I immediately headed to my doctor and upped my dosage.
Two days later I was a normal human being again.
Three years ago when I was hit with this, with this season depression + Christmas drama that seems to send my brain into overload meltdown I didn't know how to react. All I knew how to do was shut down and run away. So that's what I did. And I hurt a lot of people in the process.
It hurts to know I didn't have the tools three years ago to deal with my feelings and my anxiety/depression in a healthy way that would have spared others pain, but because I broke down three years ago I was able to get to the place I am in today where when I saw that I needed help and I simply asked for it before I hurt others.
Because of this "growth" I guess you could call it, by the time Christmas rolled around I was able to laugh again, smile, and when I was asked, "What should we do today?" I responded with a few reasonable and enjoyable options, instead of reaching back and punching anyone in the face. Which would have been my reaction not three days prior.