This past weekend, my brother and I completed a 5k Santa Shuffle Fun Run, with proceeds going to our local Salvation Army. Not only was it a blast to see people dressed as a variety of Christmas folk (including elves, reindeer, and, of course, Santa himself), but it was great to be a part of something on a bigger scale. Interacting with the running community was a super positive experience, and of course, knowing the money was going to help local activities was even better. And, to top it all off, my amazingly fast brother placed second out of the 250 people who participated!
This was an important event for me because it has been my motivation this winter. Between the race day, a co-worker who also recently took up running, and my brother urging me along, I’ve been out and physically active through the start of winter. As the days grew shorter, I was staving off my winter blahs with runs varying from 1.5km – 5km. For that, I am grateful. However, now that the race is over, my anxious mind is turning to other avenues and frantically looking for a new goal, or something new to inspire.
For those who cannot tell, winter is a very difficult season for me (and, I assume, for many of us); between the cold weather that pushes me inside, the extremely short periods of daylight, and the general ambience of sleep and exhaustion, winter has never been a high point of the year for me. Last year, I was able to take a temporary break from the seasonal disorder that nips at my heels every year by traveling to Italy to nanny for 5 weeks in Milan. Being in a different country, with different things going on, in a warmer climate, and with lots of traveling left me with little to no time to dwell on the usual depressive thoughts. However, this year, my S.A.D. is back in full swing, perhaps exacerbated by the lack of Mia around my house.
This disorder plagued me frequently when I was younger; as an already hormonal teenager, I remember feeling out of control in my irrational anger and extreme lows during the moody winter months. Frankly, many of these feelings are starting to resurface, albeit with the anger being replaced by an overwhelming sadness and lack of motivation.
In short, I do not want to do anything. I aimlessly click around on Facebook for 15 minutes, close the computer to try and begin a knitting project, give up, and open the laptop to click around again. I feel like nothing gets accomplished, and I feel powerless in this role. Blogging has taken a back burner to making it through the day. Little things that I used to take joy in – meticulously crafting the perfect setup for food photos, finishing a knitting project, making a student smile – are feeling hollow. Life isn’t so peachy right now.
This post isn’t to gain sympathy, or to raise awareness, or anything like that – it’s simply a space for me to vent freely, without fear of judgment or repercussion. Sometimes, when we see these perfectly crafted worlds that people create online – whether through Facebook, blogging, or Instagram – we start to feel like ours isn’t as great. And when you’re in a funk like I am, this takes on a whole new weight. So, I’m just putting it out there – I’m not an optimally functioning human being right now. I’m apologizing to people that I’ve let down recently, or who haven’t seen my presence much (I’m opting instead to sit inside and enter a trance-like, sugar-induced state of bare existence). I’m not trying to be flaky, or careless. I’m also thanking those who inspire and push me on: my partner, my friends, my students, my co-workers, and my family, especially my brother. I suppose this is a rather long-winded way of saying, Look at me being awesome in this photo, despite of it all. I can and will do something like this again. And a big part of that is the people who surround me with their love and attention. I am so lucky.
Now that you’ve heard me, do you or anyone you know suffer from seasonal affective disorder? What kinds of things do you do to keep yourself sane? And are there any runners out there who would like to start an online running group, perhaps?