Yesterday, I wrote this: a post about how it’s okay to feel crummy sometimes. It’s okay to feel crummy and to write about feeling crummy.
In a way, I was responding to commenter Reader547 when s/he left this message on a recent post about how I was feeling the post-holiday blues:
“While it is all too true that the lights come down and everything is put away in January, I feel the writer has no helpful perspective in her article on how people can think differently about it all! How about trying to view January as a “new start into the fresh and unknown future”?
Now, I’m back — to explain my rationale for refusing to tie a shiny bow around my woes.
HOLD THE PHONE: IT’S OKAY TO FEEL NON-SUNSHINE-Y AND NON-RAINBOW-Y?
It’s okay for me to feel that way, and it’s okay for me to blog about it. (It’s okay for you, any of you who are reading this, to feel jaded or sad or less-than-stellar. While major depression certainly is crippling — I’m not arguing against that by any means — I think our society has pathologized sadness to the point where people become genuine medical concern about feeling even mildly blue.)
I think the best mental health blogs out there are the ones that are brutally honest. Sure, I can give you all sorts of great tips for managing anxiety — stuff I’ve learned through therapy, reading, and experience — but sometimes I’m just flummoxed by my own moods. Adding the “real” me into my blog is important as it helps me to reach my main goal: to make others feel less alone.
Reader547, I enjoy your perspective on winter. I am very happy to hear that you can extract a sense of peace from the season and use it to your advantage. That’s an admirable feat, and one of the reasons I wanted to create an entire post about your comment was to highlight your words and display your positive attitude to others.
THERE’S NO SUMMER WITHOUT WINTER
Ignore the pun (or don’t).
Would I love to develop a more positive attitude about winter? Sure. But I’ve been trying, heartily, for most of my adolescent and adult life. Without seeing much fruit, I’ve come to the same conclusion that Barbara Ehrenreich so eloquently penned in her book (emphasis and paragraph breaks added):
“I do not write this in a spirit of sourness or personal disappointment of any kind, nor do I have any romantic attachment to suffering as a source of insight or virtue. On the contrary, I would like to see more smiles, more laughter, more hugs, more happiness and, better yet, joy.
In my own vision of utopia, there is not only more comfort, and security for everyone — better jobs, health care, and so forth — there are also more parties, festivities, and opportunities for dancing in the streets. Once our basic material needs are met — in my utopia, anyway — life becomes a perpetual celebration in which everyone has a talent to contribute.
But we cannot levitate ourselves into that blessed condition by wishing it. We need to brace ourselves for a struggle against terrifying obstacles, both of our own making and imposed by the natural world.
And the first step is to recover from the mass delusion that is positive thinking.”
So, for those of you who struggle with winter, join the club. There are tons of us who feel the post-holiday blues — and maybe those blues might be abated, even if just slightly, by finding online kinship with like-minded folks.
Maybe we don’t have to try to “think positively” about it. Maybe we just have to cope with the struggle for a bit, you know? Feel the chill in the air. Gaze at the (seemingly) dead tree branches. Grumble around with our hands in our pockets while walking through slushy snow.
And maybe that will get us through it until those crocuses start poking their purple heads out of the frozen dirt.
Photo: dielselbug2007 (Flickr)