January Blues

Christmas day was a quiet affair with a delicious turkey.
Boxing day was filled with family and laughter.
Parties were attended bringing even more love and joy.
New Year’s Day was a quiet restful cozy pajama day.

And January came roaring in, the dust of the holidays fallen and the Blues settling in.
They’re so bad that it has taken me 3 weeks to write this piece. I started early in the month, when I first noticed The Blues had crept in. I came back to it a week later, and made zero progress on it. Today I write a bit more on it as an act of distraction.

At the beginning of the month I first thought I was experiencing S.A.D (seasonal affective disorder). Winter has yet to really make an appearance and I wonder if the weather not aligning with expectations for the year was affecting me … and/or, my craving the warmth of the sun. The last time I tried to write on this I thought it might have been stress that was causing this depression. While I love my job and the work I do, the last few months have been exceedingly difficult and I have been struggling – both in my workload and knowing the multiple mistakes I’ve been making trying to keep up. My job is rewarding and satisfying, but also tedious, frustrating, and sometimes boring. Pulling a double workload and trying to stay on top of deadlines (and failing) means I’m seeing my stress manifest as mental, emotional, and physical symptoms … which compile to leave me feeling that I’m not a joy to be around right now. Shout-out to saintly BF who does his best to make my evenings as calming and stress-free as possible.

And yet, as I thought about putting fingers to keyboard for this entry it occurred to me (like a ridiculous slap in the face) what these blues are all about it. It’s knowing that everything is settling and realizing I wasn’t as prepared as I thought. Examples! I got a break from work during the winter holiday – 5 days off in a row for Christmas, 2 days back at work, then 4 off for New Years. You would think this would be sufficient time for resting? But I didn’t feel any more rested. I didn’t feel like I got enough of a “break” from work, and while I now have vacation days I can use, they are precious and need to be saved for when I truly need them. Add in stress that still isn’t resolved and new stress that I couldn’t even imagine and this week as been a Hell week. Somehow I’m coming out of it not falling apart. So I feel like I’m not getting enough of a break from work, no chance to escape for a bit, and the crushing reality of having to keep going because I have no other choice.

Another example? Being non-social. I’ve been a mostly non-social person my entire life. I am an introvert, a very hard core one. And yes, I’m aware that when I’m around people I like and I’m comfortable I don’t sound or act like an introvert. I laugh, I joke, I can be the life of the party. But people drain me. And my stores have been low for a long time. I can only manage a few hours here and there and it’s taking longer and longer to recharge. I want to be social. I know that those times I do get together with people I feel infinitely better about myself and life, but I’m struggling to work up the energy to go … and, more importantly, the courage to ask. I know part of this stems from one of my best friends moving away. She’s now a 9 hour drive away (at best) and while I know I will see her in a few months, the reality of her not being a 20 minute walk down the road has hit me hard the last few weeks. And it’s not even going out and being around people … I’m struggling to tell people I want to talk to them. I’ve never been good about being the first one to reach out, even if I need it. When my anxiety is at its most crippling, and reminders of the years of people telling me what I have to say isn’t important or that I’m better seen than heard, it is hard to work up the courage to just say hi. It’s hard for me to know what to talk about with people. You would think, having spent 14+ years in a long distance relationship that I would have been excellent at coming up with things to talk to someone about online or on the phone. But the reality is that, outside of intimate relationships, I’m terrible at it. Years ago this topic came up with some friends, and they told me that their other best friends … they talk to them every day. Every. Day. It’s hard to put into words how I miss having that kind of relationship with a friend. But I’ve never really had it. I had a friend I talked to frequently … almost every day, but not quite. And then we moved to opposite ends of the province and it just … fell away. Sure, we connect every once in awhile and it’s like no time has passed … but our lives are very different now. And my other closest friends don’t live that close. While we used to be able to see each other frequently that won’t be possible as a group. And sure, I will see the one who lives closer to me as often as we can … but I feel like I’m missing out on support, and laughs, and joys, and highlights of their lives (and really, any of my friend’s lives) by not reaching out more. It feels pathetic to google how to help myself with this.

These blues have settled in because I’m facing realities I thought I had already moved past – a job I’m struggling to like, living on my own(-ish) with very few friends, making sacrifices to keep myself afloat. I have zero regrets about choices I’ve made recently, I know I’m trying to get by doing the best I can with what I’ve got. But I’m looking at future plans possibly changing or being pushed back, and I feel that fear I felt at the start of my divorce process creeping up again.

I have plans, and hopes, and dreams … and the crushing reality of being just a cog in the wheel is what is driving this round of depression. I know that change starts with me. I know I have to be the difference I want to see in my life. And I know that nothing changes overnight. That depression lies and that taking that first step, no matter how difficult it may feel, would move me in the direction I want to go. If there is something I want I need to take it … nothing had ever really been handed to me, and I doubt it will start now. The universe does work in mysterious ways, so I know I need to find the right balance of waiting for things to work themselves out and taking charge.

For right now I’m working on the best self care I can imagine. This weekend? A cozy Friday night just me and the kitty. Saturday shopping and an epic dinner date night. Sunday a relaxing stress free day of whatever makes me happy. Then I’ll be ready to take on Monday, whatever comes my way, and any day after that.

~ J

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