Winter of 2013-2014 was grisly for me. It was a downpour of white fluffy heaven that would usually have me in a lovely state of euphoria… Usually.
When I lived in a “driving” town every cloud-crying whiteout was an uplift in my spirits. It was a day to celebrate the moisture, magnificence, and marvel of nature’s creation. Snow!!
I loved it. It exhilarated me. It brought me life. The wintery goodness of it all brought spirit to my heart and made me think maybe, just maybe, there was a God above raining down blessings upon me. That may be a little much but what I’m trying to convey is that I loved snow… past tense.
Living in a “walking” town, on the other hand….
Every storm was a winter-bluster-land to traverse bundled up like a goddamn polar bear until finally collapsing in a fit of frigidity on top of a mediocre heating unit and praying for warmth. And that was on day one of the snow storm. On day two, the used-to-be-wonderland had already turned into a grey compost heap. Everywhere. It was a dreary, gloomy sight that accosted everyone’s mood.
And the shoveling…
January 2014 was especially harrowing. Shovel in the morning. Shovel in the afternoon. Shovel in the evening. That way, hopefully when morning came around again hopefully there wasn’t a layer of ice to break through. Because the sidewalk must be cleared. It must. This is a walking-town, after all. Last winter the snowflakes came down in such abundance that the shovelers of Hoboken ran out of places to even put the snow! Cars were getting encased in a gray igloo prison on the street because the sidewalks had to be free for foot traffic. And even that wasn’t enough. I found myself scooping snow piles over fences and pushing it down window wells all the while thinking by mid-February that we would all surely suffocate under this once beloved frozen condensation.
Last winter was rough.
And I felt myself slipping.
I was consumed with a depression that had an ever growing ferocity. I did not know how to claw my way out. I sought therapy. Helpful! I sought natural medicinal substitutes. Helpful! I sought shelter in my husband’s assurance that I was actually ok. Helpful!! But none of it seemed to be enough to combat the force that was pulling me down; keeping me in bed until the middle of the afternoon; and crying, endlessly, for seemingly no reason at all.
But this year I want to do more.
This year I want to stop it before it starts. I have never felt I was a victim to my circumstances. I have never felt myself weak. I never thought I’d fall into the pit of depression that I had seen so many succumb to. Yet, I’m human and I’m not any better or different than anyone else.
But this year I want to be different.
It has to be. I just don’t think I can do that again. I don’t want to ever feel that sad or that much despair. I truly understand a person’s desire to escape permanently; one cannot go on like that for long.
It’s August and I’m already paving myself a way to tackle this winter head on. The weather is a force I cannot beat… but I might be able to outsmart. I fear the oncoming season of isolation, cold, and difficultly more than anyone should. I don’t want to see myself slip into the Pit Of Despair (Know the reference?!!) because I know I can beat it. Winter is coming (Reference?!!) and it will be harsh.
I want to win!! (Know all these references and we are truly meant to be friends!!)
I’ve taken the matter into my own hands in three very specific ways.
I started a “book” club. Every month my friends and I read the same book and then we get together and drink wine. I love my friends, reading, and wine—possibly in that order—I figured if I combined all three of those things once a month that might be a good little escape for the winter-sorrows I seem to succumb to since moving out East. We had our first meeting already and it was a raging success! I think having this project and these ladies for support will really help me to push through the ugliness that winter creates outside my home… and in my mind.
I joined a Roller Derby Team. No joke. I love skating. I love camaraderie. I love sports. And most of all, I needed something that people were counting on me to show up for. Last winter I cancelled so many items on my schedule that I wasn’t being held accountable for. Every week I said I’d volunteer at the homeless shelter, but there was no one to report to and I wasn’t expected to show up if I didn’t want to. Ok, then. I talked myself right out of it every week. But being a part of a team… Knowing that people are counting on me to practice and show up to games (bouts)… I’ll be there. Plus I LOVE skating. And Roller Derby is… Bad. Ass.
Volunteering. I know I was flippant about volunteering before. Last winter I probably only dragged myself to the shelter… twice? It was rather pathetic of me to be so self-centered. This year my goal is to set aside a day—let’s say Thursday—I will invite friends to join me, and I will go. I’ve never regretted a visit and I always enjoyed everyone I encounter at the shelter.
Selflessness: I think it’s a rather important objective when trying to see yourself out of a pit of self-doubt and reflection.
My therapist says I have a predisposition to depression. Based on my mother’s history; my father’s history; and the subtle examples slowly being illustrated in my brother, sister, aunts, uncles, and cousins. The stories are rather hard to deny. The evidence is there. My heart goes out to those suffering from depression. It is not a joke and not something that can be brushed aside.
This winter I may need to take my as-natural-as-I-can-find substitute for prescription drugs; I may need to schedule a few more sessions with my dear therapist; and I may need to get creative in new and daring ways, but things will go differently this time. I don’t like to be sad. I don’t want to go through another winter like that ever again.
I want to win.
How do you win? Tell me. Let’s help each other.
Winter is coming.