Hello, My name is Chelsey and I am struggling with S.A.D.
Oh and I f*cking hate social media (but I am also totally addicted to it-mostly because of you).
First things first though, let’s get S.A.D.
Seasonal Affective Disorder is a disorder that causes moodiness and depression in direct correlation with the changing of seasons. In most cases, it affects people from Fall until Spring. It’s actually treated with sunlight (phototherapy), counselling to get you through, or, in extreme cases, medication. S.A.D is not something to brush off, its real and its a bitch.
Winter in Alberta is cold. Really, really cold. The average temperature is rarely on the plus side and the low is too friggen low. No I am not comparing it to NWT or even to a brutal east coast winter, but when you go two weeks with a maximum of 5 minutes of fresh air a day because every time you breathe in your nostrils freeze together, your lungs feel like big fleshy icicles and any exposed skin goes from numb to burning in point five of a second, I don’t care if it’s worse somewhere else. Its bad here too; -30 actually, yesterday morning it was minus-fucking-30. Maybe I’m a wimp, (correction, I know I am) but its damn cold and I really don’t want to be out in the tundra for longer than it takes to walk from my car to my office and back again. So not only am I breathing recycled apartment or office air most of the time, I am also getting a little cabin fever from rarely going out, because on top of that, I also suffer from social anxiety.
Real talk: I was broken down. Not from death, but as a woman, mother and human being. I felt worthless, replaceable and well below average (this was before Lil died, because after, none of that mattered). Actions and words against me destroyed my self-worth because I let them. I let them keep happening, I let them affect me the way they did. I played a role in my own destruction but that doesn’t mean I wasn’t completely destroyed.
And then she died. And I died too.
So now, emerging from the fog and becoming a human again (or… at least understanding that I have to try) I realized how broken of a woman I really am, all death related things aside.
It’s hard to repair yourself. It’s hard to look in the mirror and say “I love you” and actually mean it after being cast aside so many times and in so many ways.
I think I make friends pretty easily, but then I always wonder if they are actually my friends.
I get hit on when I go out, but always wonder if it’s pity or boredom or literally any other reason besides actually wanting to hit on me.
Friends, men, and family sometimes, even after they have expressed that they do, in fact, care about me are subject to my ego’s desire to question their feelings. Someone says “I love you.” and my response is awww.. but do you though?
My self-doubt controls practically everything when I let it sneak it’s dirty little thoughts into my head.
I have grown so much since I’ve started to understand that I am dealing with a lot more damage (and different damage) than I thought I was. But every social situation throws me in a constant battle with my anxiety. It’s frustrating to be lonely and socially anxious at the same time.
So, it’s minus one million outside and the post holiday blues + my grief + S.A.D are dragging me deeper into the abyss and I know I should say yes to the plans that are presenting themselves, but not wearing pants and drinking wine at home sounds much more appealing than wearing pants and having anxiety in a public place.
Where do I go from there?
One counters the other, but the anxiety from the other makes the desire to stay home even greater, which makes one so much worse. Right?
To be honest, staying home almost always wins because I like being alone; I like not thinking about what anyone else wants. I like my bubble of self concentration and non-accountability. Do some yoga? Sure. Make some food? Absolutely! Wine? Don’t mind if I do! Pants? NEVER.
But when you are alone too much, like during the ice-age that is this Alberta winter, the novelty wears off and you become the pantsless, chip-eating monster, flicking through your various social media outlets always wondering these 3 things:
1. WHY is everyone’s life more exciting than mine? Like how do they even have the money? or the time? Does their boss just say “ya sure, go on vacation 17 times a year and I’ll pay you! In fact here’s a raise for literally not being here at all!”
2. WHY is the world such a cruel fucking place. Regardless of people’s beliefs, how can a human think it’s okay to talk to any other human the way they do when they are hidden behind their screens and keyboards? Plus, all the actual devastation that is happening, the people who now have the most power over citizens and the citizens who think those people should actually be where they are.
My heart is shattered into as many pieces as this world is in. I need to help but have no idea where to start. And the more knowledge I gain the more powerless I feel. The more I think I understand, the less I feel like I know anything at all.
3. OMG dogs trying not to fall asleep and/or playing with babies is the absolute BEST. I should Totally get a dog.
And then the anxiety that was at bay from not leaving the house starts gurgling in my stomach and coming up my throat. I have envy and anxiety over all of the things I want to do but I feel like there is always something holding me back.
I have anxiety over the world seemingly falling apart around me and I am doing NOTHING to stand up for the human rights that are being violated.
I have anxiety over speaking out and getting verbally attacked in response.
I have anxiety from wanting to join the military, or The White Helmets or anything to go and make a difference where a difference needs to be made.
I even get anxiety over the dog I want to get but wont get because they are kind of expensive and even though I never really do anything, because I can’t really afford to – oh god, money anxiety again – If I have a dog I always have to find somewhere for that dog to go. Also after work, I have to make sure I come home and walk that dog and feed it, even if I want to go to the grocery store first or, I don’t know, do something else. AND every one says dogs are like having kids and I don’t want kids but dogs are easier right? But also I live in an apartment and I would have to go down the stairs to the first floor just let the dog out every morning without even having had coffee and that’s kind of annoying and I just don’t think I’m ready to share my life with anyone right now (four-legged or otherwise) and dogs need walks even when it’s cold out. Shit..it’s so friggen cold out.
Even when I choose to stay home and not do anything to make me feel anxious (because it’s exhausting), my perusing of the internet makes me come completely undone.
But “Don’t bite the hand that feeds you” is often what comes to mind when I think about how much I wish I could throw out all of my electronics and live in a little bubble of peace and read books for the rest of my life (obviously on some beach somewhere).
That’s not life, though.
That’s not how things work, and it’s not how I want things to work, not really. The internet gave me so much because it gave me all of YOU and I really want to see you all enjoying your lives. I want to get updates on the world, on family, on friends. I want to be able to connect with you all in a way I wouldn’t be able to if the internet didn’t exist because YOU make me feel like I am not alone in this crazy life. YOU make me feel like I matter and YOU make me feel like there is so much out there to learn from all the people who are connected to me.(and I hope I make you feel some of those things too)
But sometimes having a window into the lives of so many people makes you feel like you are alone and disconnected. Sometimes the quantity of the connections shadow the quality and that can be really hard to manage, especially when you are already dealing with the weight of the world (and of the snow-right, B.C?).
So what do we do about S.A.D? What do we do when the world gets us down, when we don’t know how to help, when our ego takes control and we are stuck in a cycle of “what if’s” and “Maybe’s.” What do we do when we finally see that we are hosting the worlds largest pity party and that you, yourself are the esteemed guest of honour?
I don’t know.
But I do know that talking about it helps. I know that connecting helps. I know that even though our connection is electronic, I am a real person, you are a real person and we are listening to each other.
I am listening.
Because when it all comes down to it, we get so lost inside of our heads that all of our thoughts turn into a churning grey cloud that we just can’t seem to look past. But talking to someone who is willing to listen will force that cloud to open up and all of your fears, all of your worries and all of your pain will fall like rain. Either bit by bit, or all at once, the cloud will start to dissipate, the light will shine through and once again your mindfulness will bring you back to this moment. You’ll breath in the air deep and peacefully again, filling every cell and your return to the now will bring back the clarity you have been so desperate for.
Trying to organize my thoughts this morning, after a restless night, was like wrangling cats.
But I realize now (after a conversation with a dear friend that finally sunk in) that I want to be present and I want to have more of a presence. I can’t do that if I don’t put myself out there and putting yourself out there is “almost always worth it” in one way or another.
So, after a brief and unintentional social break, as the snowball of anxiety and fear of being an unsuccessful wallflower finally starts to dissolve, my grey cloud is parting, the light is shining through and I can feel the air getting dense.
Look up…the rain is coming.