“Gorgeous. A snow day! Let’s go have some fun!”
These will be the words and thoughts of a lot of people in Britain today. As curtains are eagerly drawn and doors are flung open, laughter and happiness will spread the streets.
And whilst being a truly magical day for many, with the snow providing great opportunity for family and friends to get-together and have fun sledding and making snow angels, for those suffering from depression, it can bring about a whole other kind of feelings, such as guilt, loneliness and overwhelm. Yes, some sufferers will be able to feel a lift in mood from playing outdoors and being in good company. But, for others, even the thought of leaving the house and putting on their snow clothes will be too much for them.
When you are depressed, you often don’t have the energy or desire to do fun or exciting things. The kinds of things you once enjoyed, or do still enjoy when your mood is balanced. It’s no surprise a snow day like today doesn’t inspire you if you are feeling down. In fact, snow days can actually cause ‘more’ stress and worry to somebody who’s experiencing a low mood, because similarly to other ‘bright occasions’, such as Christmas, New Year’s and birthdays, you’re only forced to see how awful you feel in comparison to the cheeriness of those around you.
So, when the texts come in inviting you out to play and build snowmen and have a big social affair, you feel sick and afraid. You know you don’t want, ‘can’t’ participate, at least not in any genuinely enjoyable way. You feel guilty for choosing to stay in and be on your own. Angry for being in this sucky mood.
“It’s not fair. Why do I have to feel depressed, when everyone else is out there having fun?” you say.
And back to bed you go, or the fridge, or whatever in that moment makes you feel better. But one thing you know is, you’re not going out there. No matter how thick the snow gets.
When you’re depressed, you often don’t want to see people. You don’t want to do the things people tell you are good for you, because you don’t see the worth. All you want to do is wrap yourself up in the comfort and solitude of your personal space and just be left alone.
It’s not easy suffering from depression. I know this, because I have, and I am today. I’m inside on a snow day, and I feel down. I have cancelled plans with family, things I was looking forward to, because I just need some ‘me time’, peace and comfort.
Why am I depressed? you ask. Aren’t I a yoga teacher, who is positive and uplifting? Don’t I promote health? I like to think so, yes! But, I am also a girl with the ‘seed of depression.’ A normal person, like you, who is genetically pre-disposed to this debilitating illness. And on Friday evening, I went above my alcohol quota. I had three, rather than one or two (which I have learnt is my personal limit) glasses of wine. And, therefore as a consequence I’ve been suffering this weekend. Somewhat to myself, which is something a lot of sufferers will do, until we bring depression further into the light and out of the closet. You see, as someone with the seed of depression, I have to do that bit extra to handle myself, and prevent/escape the bouts. As I’m sure you’ll understand, if you suffer too.
So, why did I drink too much when I know it’s not good for me? Well, we all make mistakes. We mess up, and fall into holes we knew existed. That’s just a part of life. Even us yoga teachers make health mistakes, you know? I guess, one of the reasons I drank a little more than I should was because I wanted to feel normal. I wanted to kick back with my friends and enjoy myself. I wanted for that evening to pretend I didn’t have the seed of depression. I wanted to believe that I wouldn’t be down for the rest of the weekend as a consequence. I wanted to by a normal, fun-time 21st century girl.
But, as always, and has been the case for the past decade, I can’t handle it. I can’t go beyond my limits without paying the price, and this is why I am now, on this gloriously miserable snow day, indoors feeling under the weather.
Why am I writing this? Not waiting until tomorrow and putting my smile back on? Since I know what to do to lift myself up (I’ve been working on healthy life habits for quite some time), why don’t I just do that tomorrow and pretend away today? Well, yes, I could do that. I do like to spread a positive word about health and possibility. I also like to encourage others, as well as myself, to eat lots of healthy food and get exercise and practice yoga. But, I’m not going to do that today. No. Today I won’t talk about my approach to depression, or my feelings about anti-depressants, or green smoothies or the benefits of yoga.
Today, I just want to hold out my hand to you, from a place of true authenticity and heartful empathy and compassion. I know what it’s like to be depressed. Just hang on in there, you’re dong a wonderful job. Don’t worry about not making the best out of the snow day, if that’s not your inclination. Curl up in bed if that’s what you feel like doing. There’s always tomorrow…
And you can feel comfort in knowing, I’m doing the same. I’m indoors too, just being with myself. I’m not trying to change how I feel, or deny that I feel it. No, today is not a fun snow day for me either.
Let’s allow ourselves to be with, and accept wherever we are today. And if you are depressed, that’s OK.
A warm hug from me.