Sunday, November 11, 2012

The Breath of Winter Blues

Better to light a candle than to curse the darkness. ~ A Chinese proverb

When I was a little girl, I remember getting excited when the first snowfall hit. Perhaps it was anticipation of winter break, snow angels, snowmen and sled riding. Maybe it was the tingling excitement of knowing Santa was coming.

There is something magical about winter when you're a kid. The longer nights don't get to you then. The crisp air doesn't bite quite so much. Life is uncomplicated somehow. It's about Elmer's glue, markers and cardboard cutouts of Christmas trees. It's about winter boots, hot soup, running noses and Christmas cartoons and movies. It's about holiday music, fires, hot chocolate and decorating.

As a child, you are a clean slate in some ways ... you don't have past heartbreaks that suddenly resurfaces with the trigger of a memory. You don't have monthly bills, holiday prepping workloads,  presents to buy. Don't get me wrong, as I've grow older, there are still many magical and wonderful experiences to be had throughout winter. I've had some of my most memorable moments during those months.

But I've also had some of my darkest.

The interesting thing is, through self evaluation over the years and especially in the more recent ones, I've looked back at those years when I was younger and recalled all the times I would hear my mom crying in her bedroom or the bathroom. To provide context, my mom came to this country when she was 25 and essentially left her entire family in Romania to be in America and marry my dad, who is also Romanian, but whose family had moved here before he was born.

So, during the holidays, the sadness would hit her the hardest. But it was more than that, this was something that happened every year in the wintertime. I never understood then what was going on. I just remember hearing her and feeling such confusion and sadness. I never knew what to do. I just knew she was heartsick.

As I grew older, hit puberty (I was a late bloomer, so it wasn't until I was 14 or so) ... I began feeling this melancholy seep inside the moment winter crept in. Depression and anxiety run in my family, but I didn't "know" that until I was an adult. Knowledge has become power to me. My mom told me recently she should have maybe talked to someone back then, the way I had as a teenager and have been more recently. A lot of the things she suffered, that I've followed suit with, were things she didn't really talk about or deal with.

Anxiety and depression fluctuate in me. And despite this amazing Indian summer we have just had, I do feel winter's breath at my neck. But because I've been working through those fluctuations, have gotten help and have reconnected with the parts of myself that helped me find balance when I was at one of my lowest of lows as a teenager, I feel different this year. Not invincible to these things in me, but more aware of them and not "in danger" of them, if that makes sense. Kind of like, when you're a kid and you're afraid of your basement, but you know you have to go down there eventually ... and then you turn on the lights, and everything that was once scary seems completely benign.

When I was in counseling as a teenager, I remember telling my counselor then (which was a time when I suffered more from social anxiety than depression) that when I started not feeling depressed anymore — when I started meditating, doing Yoga, going to intuition seminars and became profounding in touch with that part of myself — there was a part of me that actually "missed" my depression. It had become such a constant companion, it felt abnormal not to feel it.

Sounds crazy I'm sure ... but now that I've been reading more about the mind/ego's role in our false identities, I realize that's what was going on. My mind and its identity fed on that depression, on that anxiety, on my bad experiences as a teenager and the ensuing years.

Same thing happened a couple years ago, pretty much up until recently. I would rise and fall, depending on what was ailing me. And when I would feel down, it would feel like an old friend coming to visit. It still does sometimes. However, now, instead of resisting how I'm feeling, I'm learning how to let it run through me, like air ... and more importantly, how to find the light switch. 

My mom, she resisted what "was" at that time. Her melancholy, missing her mom and sisters. She mourned them constantly and let her sorrow consume her. And then there were the times she would cry for no reason. I knew those times well. I still do sometimes. But little did I know, that light switch has been in me all along. And my mind, while threatened in some ways, is no longer calling the shots ... at least not the way it once did.

How do I know this? By the sense of peace I feel the moment I'm "present."

It's one thing to be present in emotion, it's another to be tortured or consumed by it. I'm sure you'll find me here many times this winter, channeling.

Feeling emotions is living, channeling them through writing or song or sketching is creation through living.

But turning on the light switch — that is true being.



  1. Interesting how you began to "miss" the depression due to its familiarity. I have read similar things before. I really like that you are now able to let the feeling run through you like air when you feel it. Once again, a very introspective piece me friend.

    1. Yeah, it's not uncommon for people who have suffered from something for a long period of time to almost attach to it in some ways. And thanks :-) I only wish I'd access these "tools" to work through this stuff sooner. But such is life ...