‘I go to Spain a lot, in winter, for a blast of sunlight to banish the blues brought on by the Irish greys and drizzle’ – Kevin Barry
The winter blues had hit me early and hit me hard this year. Out of the two of us, it’s normally Dave that suffers from SAD syndrome the most, but he’s back into his running again and i’m hauling my fat, post Canada ass up and down to the other end of the country every fortnight.
This is rare post for me for a couple of reasons. 1. it’s not often I come on here and talk about my mental health all that often any more. Partly because over the last few years I’ve been much happier than I used to be, and partly because talking about it, keeps it alive in my head and i’m better when I can focus on positive stuff instead. And 2. because it’s written and posted in almost real time. I usually plan my posts months in advance and work on them until I deem them ready.
But I’m down at the moment. And writing makes me happy. And, this is ‘honestly’ Helen not just ‘the best bits’ Helen. And life isn’t all free pyjamas and Canadian holidays. And someone might be sitting there feeling exactly the same as me. And a problem shared is a problem halved.
I mean, don’t get me wrong, this is 90% winter blues; it’s that lull before Christmas before all the cool stuff starts happening and the pigs in blankets come out, and it’s cold and dark and there’s nothing good on telly. And i’m fat and have no motivation to do any exercise.
I’m partial to a snapchat filter on my early morning trains it has to be said!
On a more serious note, I’ve been travelling a Lot for work recently. Almost every fortnight rather than every month like normal and it’s getting to me. The work itself is great and I’m doing really well at it. And the travel itself is fine if I can get a nice window seat and the wifi works. And the hotel I usually stay in is lovely. This issue I have is i’m starting to feel like i’m not part of the real world anymore. I spend a large majority of my life alone on trains or alone in hotel rooms where I feel like i’m just an observer in everyone else’s routine. It’s isolating and I’m a extrovert, I need to be around people or I turn into a deflated balloon.
Even though I have some great friends down south, they’re living their daily lives and can’t drop everything to hang out with me in Wetherspoons on a dark Tuesday night. Then when I’m back in Newcastle I’ve been (very kindly) adopted into a team who let me sit with them, and we have such a laugh, but work wise, we’re on different teams, so I feel the odd one out there too.
I spend a lot of time trying to get my steps in!
It’s not just work. Dave and I had an amazing time in Canada, but it was busy and when I came home, brilliant as it was, I didnt feel relaxed. Me and the majority of my friends are in out mid to late thirties, we’re all pretty much settled and we dont see each other as often as we used to, because, well, life and responsibilities. And if course there’s our good old friend social media, the making you the ultimate voyeur into other peoples seemingly perfect lives.
The problem is, the last time I felt like I wasn’t part of the real world, when I was just floating through life observing it, rather than participating in it, was right before I was diagnosed with depression. And that’s a place I never want to go back to. At least I can recognise it now right? Try and nip it in the bud?
I went for a walk with Emma at lunchtime, which we do regularly. We’re both so stressed out with various things that we just spent the half hour ranting with each other. And don’t get me wrong, that’s important. Emma is one of my favourite sounding boards and probably the best cuddler I know, so venting to her is great so I don’t explode with anger and anxiety, But it was after that walk that the penny dropped. I feel like I haven’t laughed, like, probably laughed in weeks. And despite the fact that I have one of the ugliest laughing faces on the planet. I love laughing.
I’m from a family of laughers. My Dad and brother have the most infectious, shoulder shaking laughs, and my mum Ang and I can laugh until we’re literally crying.
So that’s step number two it getting myself out of this little winter funk I’ve gotten into. Step one was venting and writing this blog. Step two is to get me laughing, so if anyone knows any good jokes, send ’em my way!
Something else that’s helped recently is writing my own version of a Wellness Action Plan (which is a work based action plan for when you’re feeling stressed or overwhelmed). It’s something I keep in the back of my notebook, which goes everywhere with me and just reminds me of all the little things I like to do which make me feel better or gets me laughing again. Even if some days the list gets a bit more of a hammering than others
What tricks do you use to get yourself out of the winter blues?