February and I are not friends. We’re barely on speaking terms. My whole life, February has been the month where I run out of steam and sink down into myself. In February I feel grey and flattened and as close to depression as I generally get.
This year it’s been worse.
Because this year I have a toddler who does not respond well to being housebound — a toddler who wants to charge around outside but who also battles vehemently against snow pants and mittens or any pre-requisite outside attire.
Because this year I’ve developed an unhealthy social media addiction wherein I refresh endlessly, looking for news updates to reassure me that the world is not on the brink of collapse.
Because this year, this winter, I am more isolated than I’ve been before. Naps keep us home, and the weather keeps us indoors, and every fun activity I can think of lasts five minutes, and the days are so, so long.
Because this land is not my land. I’m from the UK, where an inch of snow shuts down entire cities. Also, this year we didn’t go back for the holidays, so I’m homesick, and watching The Crown on Netflix isn’t helping.
It all came to a tearful head a few days ago when I snapped at my husband and then dissolved into a sobbing, snotty mess. Funny how I always forget that it’s when I finally admit defeat that I actually get the help I need. We talked and strategized and I assigned blame (the weather, the government, interminable teething), and I emerged with that salty exhausted refreshed feeling that only a good cry can achieve.
I don’t think I’m actually depressed. If I did, I’d have no qualms talking to my doctor about medication. I do think I need to be proactive in fending off the low, flat greyness of seasonal affective disorder, because it was quietly, insidiously asserting itself into my marriage, my friendships, and my mothering. So I’ve written a list of actions to get me through ’til spring. Here they are:
- Scroll less. If the world is collapsing, I can wait an hour to hear about it. Facebook is not my friend. Put down the cell phone and back away.
- Take my own advice and channel my toddler as a way to really engage with the world in all its beauty.
- Do the things that make my soul sing. The things I did pre-motherhood, pre-wifehood, pre-adulthood even. For me that’s writing, playing piano, and drawing. It comes at the expense of sleep or Netflix, but it helps lighten the grey.
- Leave the flipping house. Yes, it’s hard. Yes, I have to cajole and wrangle and bribe him into snow gear. Yes, we only last 10 minutes out there. But it’s worth it.
- And when all else fails, dance it off, Meredith and Christina style. Except in my scenario, Christina is a toddler who doesn’t know/doesn’t care why his mother is dancing like a crazy person.
So that’s my plan to stop me from sinking, to raise me up until those magical weeks where the trees blossom and the air rests warm again on my skin. It shouldn’t be too hard, really, except the Facebook one. I wasn’t kidding when I said addicted.
How are you managing winter? Any tips?