February Blues

Photo by K. Mitch Hodge on Unsplash

Because I come across as a tough and stubborn bitch, people will be surprised to learn that I sometimes get blue. The sad and heavy weight of depression is something I am very familiar with. Over the course of my life, it is something that has cropped up on a regular basis. Sometimes hormonal related like the severe PMS induced depression, along with the rest of the severe symptoms I suffered before PMS was a familiar thing among women. And the postnatal depression that I effectively hid from the word during my maternity leave because I couldn’t appear weak, especially compared to my mother who had raised five kids and my mother-in-law who brought up four. Neither of them would have any patience for that sort of thing. I was thirty-four years old and did not want to admit that I was struggling with one baby. JT was born in December. He had colic and by February I was feeling totally helpless, isolated and unqualified to be his mother. At the time, there was no one who I could rely on for support. So I did what I always did, I just kept going. I expected myself to put on my clothes and get through the rest of my day. Most days I managed to get my clothes on in the morning, other times closer to dinner. I will not say it was easy, but I was glad that I was strong enough to actually accomplish it. This is where my stubbornness paid off.

Over the years, these sad, heavy feelings would come and go and I would attempt to stay busy to help keep them at bay. This tactic doesn’t work for everyone fighting depression. It didn’t always work for me, but it did help keep me closer to the top of the well as opposed to being at the bottom. A complete hysterectomy in my early forties and then hormone replacement therapy made a huge difference. However, the practice of hormone replacement using synthetic estrogen was linked to breast cancer so I gave up the calm stable state it provided and took an immediate nose dive into full-blown menopause, which put me back at square one when it came to my emotions and especially my lows. I returned to my trying-to-stay-busy tactic. For the following ten years, it was successful more often than not when it came to my low periods. Of course it is much easier to stay busy during the stage of life when you are working and bringing up a family. Not as easy when you are a newly-retired empty nester and it is February.  

Last February was a huge struggle for me, and I had to come up with ways to get through it. This February, I was prepared, at least I thought I was. I had put things in place to help me cope with the winter months when I couldn’t kayak and garden. I had taken up yoga and purchased boots with cleats for daily winter walks. I was writing this blog. I had other projects lined up like knitting and redoing my guest bedroom. I joined a chorus and went out to sing every Monday night. I tried to get out with friends on a regular basis. I was coping just fine, until I wasn’t.

It was there one morning when I woke up midway through the first week of February. It resisted my endeavors to get out of bed and I hunkered down under the covers. When I did get up, time felt drawn-out and meaningless. The quiet of our house was maddening and unsympathetic. This empty feeling lasted several days–a relatively short period when it comes to downtime. Then, as abruptly as it had arrived, the sadness left. I was extremely happy to feel it go. I don’t know if I did something specific to make it disappear or whether everything I put in place joined forces to rally me through. It is not something I dwell on because moving forward is the only way to go.

I am hoping that that was it for my down period of winter 2020. If not, I still have one more diversion up my sleeve. I had asked friends if we could visit them for a week in Florida, and they said yes. (Thanks June and Ron.) We are headed for some outdoor fun that includes a spring-training baseball game. I love baseball, specifically Blue Jays baseball. Plus we are scheduled to kayak in the Everglades, which will be followed by something they call a wet walk. Long pants and shoes are required. Be prepared to get muddy they said. We will be prepared. There is nothing like a little adventure to pick me up and place me firmly back on my feet. When we get home, it will be March.

Thanks for reading.

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