Wascana Lake, Regina, January 2010
A couple days ago, Liliana said to me: “Mama, can you go to my school and ask my teachers to take off the January month and put up the February month?” She is not a fan of January, but for very different reasons than me. She wants it to be April because she doesn’t want to be four anymore, she wants to be five. And she wants it to be February because Valentine’s Day is in February and she has been counting down the sleeps until February, thinking that the whole month is a giant Valentine’s Day Festival.
I am looking forward to January being over for different reasons. For some reason, I don’t know why, January is the month of The Sad. Most friends of mine who suffer from depression (and some who don’t) agree that January is the hardest month to get through. It gets dark early, it gets light late, it’s usually overcast and cold, and it’s the month after all the jolliness of Christmas. Here in Saskatchewan, we have had the most beautiful January. It’s been sunny and warm (negative single digits and a day of +9C. PLUS NINE! IN JANUARY!) and we only had one week where the temperatures dipped below -30C. But still. This month has sucked.
Depression is like quick sand. The more you fight it, the deeper you sink. At least that’s how it is for me. It’s easier to get through the bad depressive times if I just let myself go through them. If I try and distract myself, go out, socialize, try not to be such a hermit, I come home completely exhausted from all the putting on a happy face and I’m a complete bear for my family. It’s not fair to them. It’s not their fault that I’m losing my mind.
I’m pretty sure this is Noah’s least favorite month, too, because he’s the one who gets the brunt of it. He’s the one who has to scrape me off the floor, tell me that I’m not a complete failure, and deal with my ice-cold demeanor. He always has to ask if he’s done something wrong or if I’m just having a down day. (Nine times out of ten, it’s the latter.)
I am sick of spending the whole day vibrating with anxiety. Because I have to abstain from nursing Preston for six hours after I take my anti-anxiety med — which is really annoying since I really hate pumping milk — I do my best to hold off. I go into a Netflix-coma during nap time to distract myself. (I’ve been on a safe-for-nursing anti-depressant for a couple months now, which has helped a lot, but it’s not a cure-all.)
I feel bad that I’m not the only one that this affects. It affects the four other people who live with me, too. When I’m having a particularly bad day, Noah’s good at sending me for quiet time when he gets off work, which is quite wonderful. It’s a lot easier to cope now that he understands depression more — that it’s an illness, not just a bad mood I can snap out of (although I really wish that’s all it was).
(Side note: The doctor I was seeing for a while in Regina told me that the best way to get over my depression was to think about women who are worse off than I am — in abusive situations and such. She obviously knows nothing about depression because I’m not depressed about/because of my life circumstances. My husband doesn’t make me depressed, my kids don’t make me depressed, my lack of something-or-other does not make me depressed. Some circumstances make the depression worse, yes, but I think that doctor seriously needs to go to a mental health seminar or five.)
I hate feeling like a failure. I hate all the self-loathing. I hate not being able to look in the mirror. I hate feeling apathetic. I hate avoiding being in public. I hate nightmares. I hate the dread I feel when I get out of bed in the morning.
There’s hope, though. My meds are working. January is (almost) over. Spring is coming, and after that, summer. I don’t have to leave my babies to go back to work. The kids have a week off coming up. I’m making plans for the year ahead (running a 10k with Kami in May! seeing my whole family in Summerland in August!).
The (proverbial) sun will come out, tomorrow.