Today's Truthful Tuesday topic is a hard one for me to write about. But it's an important one because so many people are going through the same thing this year, so I'm going to push through all that fear and reservation and say what needs to be said. Ready?
Seasonal affective much?
This winter was hard on a lot of us physically. We went through what I like to call... Snowpocalypse. So much dark, freezing weather and evil sky dandruff! Snowpocalypse did more than just make us cold, though. It hit us emotionally too, sending some of us into a horrible downward spiral.
And I say us because it happened to me, and then some. Winter is always a hibernation time for me -- sometimes I think I'm part grizzly bear. I tend to retreat into my own little bear cave, to keep to myself, and to eat a lot of comfort foods. Well, this time was really bad. On top of Snowpocalypse, I was feeling lost about what I want to do with my life. I also lost a dog walking gig with my favorite black lab, and since he'd become a best friend to me, I was pretty devastated.
I felt like a failure all around, and I wasn't excited about life. For awhile there, I couldn't think of a single thing to look forward to. I started doing less and less, sleeping more and more, and eating like crazy. I was honestly ready to eat and sleep my entire existence away. Rock bottom? Oh, yes. I was there. It was the worst I'd felt since my shoulder injury, when I thought I would never functional normally again.
Spoiler alert: I'm better now.
This all sounds sad, and maybe even a little scary, but while exploring Rock Bottom, I found something: that same person I found during my shoulder injury. The person who didn't want to give up, and who knew that all I needed to do was change something -- the tiniest little thing -- and I could begin to change everything else.
And here's how it happened.
So you know what I did? I started walking. I dragged my sad, sorry carcass off the couch and made myself walk for 10 minutes a day. And then twenty. And then thirty. I made it my number one priority, the one thing I absolutely had to do, even if I did it in 5 minute increments, and even if I did it at 12:00 at night. I became kind of obsessed with stomping around the house. I wouldn't even let myself stop for back pain, for calf cramps. I just stretched awhile and kept going.
And that obsession was the rope that helped me climb out of the hole. By focusing on one thing with a crazed, rabid weasel-like intensity, I didn't focus as much on what a failure I was. Because I was too busy following through. And then I was too busy surpassing my expectations (walking outside! Walking 30 and 40 minutes at a time! Getting a full hour of exercise a day). And now I'm too busy creating this new part of my identity. I'm not the girl who sits on the couch all day. I'm the girl who walks everywhere.
And no, my life isn't all the way back on track. I still miss that black lab like crazy; I'll meet a lot of dogs in my life and have lots of canine best friends, but he's someone irreplaceable and special. And I still don't know what to do with my life. But since I started walking, I've been enthusiastic about something. I get to explore the neighborhood! Go a different way every day. I've also started eating better -- skipping the dozen cookies every day and renewing my friendship with fruits and veggies. Hopefully this will get rid of the extra *mumblemumble* pounds I put on this year.
The weather's getting nicer, but that's not all the way back on track, either. So if you find that you're still down in the depths, I'm not going to tell you to cheer up. I'm not going to tell you that your problems aren't important -- yes, somewhere in the world, there's a man whose ass is on fire, and his situation is pretty serious, but that doesn't take away from the fact that you're suffering, and that doesn't mean that you should paste on a great big scary clown smile and pretend everything's fine.
(If you want to get this guy some water, though, I bet he'd be appreciate it.)
I'm also not going to tell you to make a gratitude list. Here's what I think about those.
What I am going to suggest is this:
Pick one tiny thing to change. For me it was walking. For you, it could be something different.
Embrace humble beginnings. 10 minutes a day wasn't a marathon, but it was a change.
Keep going, especially when things get tough. I now have stretches for back pain, strengthening exercises for knee pain.
Increase slowly and steadily. I upped my walking by 2 to 5 minutes every few days.
Get obsessed. Right now I live for my walks. They're my rope, as I said before, and I hang on to them with all my might. I'm not overwhelming myself with lofty goals, but I do want to explore a different part of my neighborhood with every walk. I also want to be able to walk to the Co-op and back... and maybe not have to take the car there all the time.
From there, I bet you'll notice some changes in other areas. Changes you never even expected. Hang in there, and know that I'm right there with you -- and that if you ever need a safe space to talk about your problems, I'd like this place to be one. In fact, I absolutely ban any and all of the usual, well-intended, but not-at-all-helpful things that people usually say to depressed people.
And that's all I have to say on this subject, at least for now. I hope this was helpful!
Sarah J. Sequins