The Black Dog of Winter
With the increasing darkness and cold of winter, comes the return of the black dog. I can feel my brain trying to revert to past negative thought patterns, (I’m not good enough, nothing makes me happy, etc.) This is my first plunge into winter without medication in a number of years and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous. Work and life stress seem to build so much more quickly at this time of year.
I am doing my best to sooth my anxious brain. A lot of it involves being less strict and more forgiving with myself. I do more yoga and less weight lifting because I need to focus on my brain-body connection and strenuous activities leave me too sore. I am trying to eat healthy but increasing my carb intake (slightly) because carbs increase the release of serotonin. I’m not sleeping as well so I take more naps. I need to put away my to-do list and spend more time just hanging out and relaxing. Sometimes after a long day at work I go to an early movie by myself because immersing myself in a story gives me a break from my own head. As always, I am seeing my doctors and talking out my issues.
Even with all this planning and support, it’s easy to feel hopeless. I have to make it to December 22nd (the longest night of the year,) before I see an increase in natural light. I have to carefully manage our holiday plans so Nick and I aren’t overwhelmed by people or dragged into family dramas. Then I have to go back to work after the holiday break and convince myself that I will make it to spring. On an intellectual level I know this too shall pass; I just have to convince my heart of it too. Wish me luck.