Thursday, 13 November 2014

Nights Drawing In

I am not good at winter.  It always takes me by surprise when I need to start wearing more layers, and I bristle with annoyance and spend a few weeks shivering before I relearn how to keep myself warm.  I can enjoy the autumn colours, the smell of a hazy morning and the start of the changing season, but then once we move into November the dark mornings and evenings start to take their toll.  Getting out of bed becomes ever more difficult (and so does leaving the house). I start wanting to take care of myself by doing nothing but eating and sleeping, and hibernation is just impossible when I've got the rest of my life still going on at the same pace.

I have a sunlight lamp - I call it my false sun god - and I spend time each day with it pointing obnoxiously brightly at my face to help me feel a bit more alive.  I try to get up and exercise each day - and in my new house I'm a mile away from my office and town, so I walk at least two miles a day.  I can still feel depression creeping towards me though, in an exhausting game of 'keep-away' where I tot up each small victory as proof that I am still functioning and fending off the seasonal blues (I often work off to-do lists. When I am doing well, the items I plan include reading whole books, reorganising my desk, planning papers and suchlike. On a bad day, I get to tick off eating meals and washing up).  This year is worse, I think, because I am in a new place with housemates I very rarely see (we are all busy students, in different fields) and just starting PhD study.

This stretch heading towards midwinter is better than afterwards though.  I know that very soon the christmas lights will come out, and I need to start planning and putting time into preparations for holiday events and gifts.  It might be dark at four in the afternoon, but lights in windows (and on roofs, and all over town, and frankly being really tacky in a lot of places) and the building anticipation help my mood enormously.  The really difficult bit is post-holiday, when new year jubilance fades but it is still dark and all you can do is wait for the light to slowly come back.  

In the meantime, I am going to go eat some soup and light candles.

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