I know what you’re thinking: “Wasn’t New Year’s like, 2 months ago?”
Yes, it was. But not for me. I’m a lifelong sufferer of major depression, and the winter is the hardest season for me to get through with my head up. But, here in New England, it seems the sun has finally returned to us, and even though it’s still cold enough to snow, the vibrant energy of springtime is looming.
Earlier in the month, however, I suffered an extreme depressive episode. I’m medicated, so it was fewer crying jags and more general numbness. I couldn’t care about anything. I let my schoolwork, my job, and my relationships suffer. Wedding planning halted. I was in a really terrible place. After about 2 weeks of basically being housebound except for shifts at work, I decided that I needed to do whatever possible to pull myself out of my depression (hopefully, once and for all).
So, I made some changes. The first thing I did was give up alcohol. Cold turkey. I’ve blogged a little bit about drinking in the past. I’m far from a heavy drinker, but as alcohol is a depressant, it seemed counterintuitive to add depressants to depression.
I also started aromatherapy using Monq diffusers. I touched upon them in a recent post. They’re amazingly relaxing, and I highly recommend them!
I started going to bed really early (and trying my damndest to get up early). Going to bed earlier is easy—it’s the getting out of bed that I’ve always struggled with. I didn’t have much success with this until this morning. I’m hoping it continues!
I gave up caffeine after 3 p.m. This was a fairly arbitrary time choice, but it has worked wonders. I had no idea how much my caffeine consumption was affecting my sleep. Coffee doesn’t make me jittery or energetic, so I foolishly thought that I was immune to its effects. Wrong! My mind was jittery and energetic—shutting it off was impossible! No wonder I was having frequent nightmares! I switched to herbal tea—ginger with honey & lemon to be exact, and it has had a marvelous calming effect. It’s also great for digestion!
Upon the advice of a coworker, I started saying “thank you” more, and smiling when I did it. Just because I don’t personally need the validation of being thanked doesn’t mean it doesn’t feel good to validate and appreciate others. This alone has really brightened up my moods!
And finally (and most importantly), I KonMari’d. What the hell is KonMari, you ask?
KonMari is the nickname of Japanese organizational guru, Marie KKondo. She is a genius. I started reading her book, The life-changing magic of tidying up, on Friday, and I’ve already been able to improve my quality of life. I can’t do tidying up justice in a blog post, but suffice it to say that it advocates basically getting rid of 2/3 or so of what you own, and only keeping those items which “spark joy”. That’s a fairly vague criterion for most, but as someone who values her intuition deeply, it is now the only criterion by which I evaluate my possessions. I’ve donated a ton of stuff already to my local Savers, as well as sold my nicer clothing on consignment or through Poshmark. I can’t believe it didn’t occur to me that my apartment didn’t have a storage issue—I had a hoarding issue! Honestly, how many sweaters does one woman need? Do I really need to keep all of my old exams and class notes? Fuck that. I feel so liberated from the burden of things. I hope to keep up the minimalism for the rest of my life! Being exclusively surrounded by items that give you joy is inspiring and mood-lifting.
So, that’s my personal recipe for winter survival! What tips do you employ to keep yourself sane during the colder months?