At this point in January, I usually start to get sad. It’s cold, it’s dark, and I’m frustrated. More often than not, I’d rather stay curled up in my bed than go outside, because there’s so little daylight, and the sun isn’t even close to satisfying when it’s windy and below freezing (or, as has been the case lately, below zero). Call it Seasonal Affective Disorder, call it seasonal depression, call it the winter blues, call it whatever you want. It’s real, and normally I’m in its grasp by now. So I thought I would get a little bit creative on this Anything Goes Tuesday and tell you what it feels like to be gripped by something like this, with a little help from the song "Demons" by Imagine Dragons. This is what mild depression[i] – winter depression – feels like to me.[ii]
“When the days are cold and the cards all fold and the saints we see are all made of gold. When your dreams all fail and the ones we hail are the worst of all, and the blood’s run stale. I want to hide the truth. I want to shelter you. But with the beast inside, there’s nowhere we can hide.”
This is how it usually starts for me. The days get cold, and then everything else starts unravelling at the seams. It’s the time that I start to really hate my job, but think that I can’t find anything else. It’s the time where I most hate my car, because it handles poorly in the snow and sent me into the snowbank on a busy street once last year. It’s the time when I start internalizing, holding everything in, not sharing that I’m sad and lonely and just tired, so tired. It’s when I start to feel worthless. It’s when I stop communicating with people. It’s just the beginning.
“No matter what we breed, we still are made of greed. This is my kingdom come, this is my kingdom come.”
But most of all, it’s when I’m the most selfish. My own selfishness will eventually bring my world crashing down around me, because people will begin to see that I have my own best interests at heart, above everyone else’s.[iii]
“At the curtain’s call, it’s the last of all. When the lights fade out, all the sinners crawl. So they dug your grave and the masquerade will come calling out at the mess you’ve made. Don’t want to let you down, but I am hell-bound. Know this is all for you. Don’t want to hide the truth.”
Darkness is the worst. The nights are fine, because sleep is all that I really want, after all. But it’s the mornings, needing to rise before the sun comes up – that’s what gets me. If it’s dark until 7:30, why should I have to get up at 5:30? Work shmerk. Who cares? But there’s always a part of me who knows that I can’t stay home and wallow. I need to get up, get moving, earn my keep. I don’t want to let anyone down, and I don’t want to lie. But how can I tell anyone I’m feeling like this?
“They say it’s what you make. I say it’s up to fate. It’s woven in my soul. I need to let you go. Your eyes, they shine so bright. I want to save that light. I can’t escape this now unless you show me how.”
Eventually, it always comes to a head. I get confronted. And I can’t explain, I don’t want to. So I yell, and I fight, and I scream that I’m no good, no good for anyone. I need to let you go, I say. It’s for your own good. And the act seems selfless, because it sounds like I’m trying to save someone the trouble, the effort. But it’s really the ultimate act of selfishness – accepting someone’s help is harder than you’d think. Going it alone, isolating yourself from the people who love you – that’s selfish.
“When you feel my heat, look into my eyes. It’s where my demons hide, it’s where my demons hide. Don’t get to close. It’s dark inside. It’s where my demons hide, it’s where my demons hide.”
A final warning. A chorus. A plea. Don’t get too close. It’s dark inside. But at the same time, I can’t escape this now unless you show me how. When I’m screaming, when I’m fighting, look into my eyes. That’s the only way I’ll ever come back to you.
I have been fortunate this year. I have H, who looks out for me when I’m not acting like myself. He makes me laugh. He brings me back, every single time. But I think it’s good for me that I’m a little bit dark sometimes. It makes for better fiction, because I can write what it truly feels like when you think there's no hope.
If you know someone who is suffering, and you can’t get through to them, don’t leave them alone. Just be there. It sounds useless, but it helps. And if you want to help on a larger scale, my favorite organization fighting depression, self-harm, and suicide is To Write Love On Her Arms. They have awesome shirts, and other ways that you can help out.
A special thank you to Imagine Dragons for writing and singing exactly how I’ve felt on more than one occasion. I’m in love with this song.
Stay warm and stay bright.
[i] Make no mistake – depression is a serious illness. I’ve been there, both in the milder, winter cases, but also when it’s real, and it’s big and all-consuming, and you can’t function, don’t want to function, don’t want to feel anything at all. Don’t do it alone. I tried that, and every single day was a struggle. There are people who love you. There are people who need you. And you have to make it through for those people.
[ii] I also want to make the “to me” very clear here. No two people are the same. And no one feels exactly the same about anything. This is just one example.
[iii] I would not be an Abnegation. Probably Erudite. Maybe Candor or Amity or even Dauntless. But not Abnegation. I am so so selfish. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, read Divergent! Or maybe take a gander at my book review of the trilogy that will be posted tomorrow.