When we lived in Maryland years ago, every winter, right after Christmas, melancholy slipped into our house unannounced and definitely uninvited. It draped itself over me, an annoying, itchy shawl. Once there, gloom dug in like a briar, refusing to leave until months later when the first crocus peeked through the grass. I didn’t understand why I had these blues; all I knew for sure was that as soon as spring came, this seasonal cloud of melancholy lifted and stayed away until the next winter.
I felt really victim-y and off-track during those first grey winters. Feeling so glum ticked me off and I wanted to get to the bottom of it. This book, Winter Blues, found its way to me. I didn’t even get past the introduction when it all suddenly made sense. My unofficial but spot-on self diagnosis? Seasonal Affective Disorder. I bought myself a light box, booked a Christmas trip to Florida instead of New England, and did my best to take control of those winter blues. This investment seemed to do the trick for the remainder of our time in Maryland. I quickly saw results from the lightbox; after a few weeks of intense exposure, everything lifted just a bit and winter felt more manageable.
When we moved to Vermont for the first time, in 2001, I was worried that with the long winters, the Green Mountain State would not bode well for my SAD. The surprising thing is that this didn’t happen. In Vermont, once the snow comes, it stays. The ground is light and white and people get out and move in the world because they have to. We bundled up and did stuff outside and made ourselves embrace winter. We didn’t hibernate, we didn’t let the hazardous weather scare us or get us down, and as a result, I found that winters in Vermont were indeed much easier than winters in Maryland. And now, we’re back in Vermont for a second time, after ten years in southern Ohio, where the weather is similar to Maryland, and I’m ready for it.
Today the weather is rotten. It snowed a little bit last night, but now we’ve got sleet and are under a winter weather advisory. We live at the end of a long dirt driveway off a long dirt road, but we have to get out and go and drive and do stuff every day. I can’t afford to be nervous about it. I’ve got four studded Hakks, a cord of firewood, and my lightbox set permanently to ON.
Victim = out, Heroine = in.