Sadness is a super important thing not to be ashamed about but to include in our lives. One of the bigger problems with sadness or depression is there’s so much shame around it. If you have it you’re a failure. You are felt as being very unattractive.

~  Mike Mills

I experience episodes of melancholy between fall and spring when the weather is overcast and rainy. I have been told that my bouts of sadness are due to low levels of vitamin D. I live in my many self-imposed caves. I dwell inside at home, at work and in my car. Because I spend so little time outside, I end up feeling like it is my own fault that I am experiencing the blues. If I only spent more time outside, if I exercised more, ate better, had a good night’s sleep more regularly, then maybe, maybe I would feel better. At times, even if I exercise, the effects are not lasting, and I will notice that even the effect of laughter wanes.

Unfortunately, knowing the cause of one’s melancholy does not always make it easier to deal with it. Knowing why we feel blue can make things worse, cause extra stress. The stress can make it hard to function, make it difficult to act or feel like oneself. It can even feel like we are to blame for our own state of misery.

Life feels even more uncertain during uncertain times.

I am not very productive when I feel down. I second-guess myself regarding the quality of my work. I find myself doing busy work, tiring myself out and feeling worse for not doing what I need to get done. I feel tired so I sleep more. But, no matter how much I sleep, I do not feel rested. When this happens, I feel like I am caught in a self-defeating cycle, like nothing I do will or can make a difference. I wish for a magical Magic 8 Ball to tell me that everything will be okay or for my future self to show up to reassure me that I will be okay. I wish for certainty more so during uncertain times and feel flustered for not being able to reassure myself of a positive outcome.

I am one of the lucky ones. I know people who suffer from depression and struggle to cope with depression every day of their lives. In my case, if I take Vitamin D or spend more time outside in the sun, I start to feel like myself again. I begin to feel my energy levels increase and find myself thinking more positively and clearly. I think to myself that I should I write myself a note for when I am experiencing Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) symptoms again; granted, I never do, but if I did, I think my note to myself would say something like this:

Dear Elizabeth,

Take your vitamins. Drink more water.
Try to get at least 7 hours of sleep.
Try not to think about the weather, 
the clouds will pass and so will this.

                          Me, Myself and I

P.S. Try not to be so hard on yourself.

For those reading this post who also suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), let me know through the comments section what are some things that seem to help you get through the “winter blues”.

Writer’s Block

I wonder about the world, and write about the wonder. I write to try to make sense of the world around me, the people, places and events that capture my attention whether or not I understand why. The answer to the why draws me to their stories. Their stories come to me and unravel themselves while I write.

I find the process of writing to be as much exploration as it is self-discovery. Through writing fiction, I can explore the connections between root cause, motivation, cause and effect, and consequence. Writing essays gives me insight into myself and how I perceive the world.  Poetry shows me how to paint pictures with words. For me writing has a cathartic, almost therapeutic effect. I find it liberating to be able to explore through my writing the full extent of emotions about situations that may, on the surface, appear seemingly unrelated. I believe we all share common desires and struggles on our journey even when on different paths. Writing about joy, pain and fear helps me understand not just my own path but that of others I come across along the way.

There are times when I find myself unable to find the words, and I feel stuck.

I find I seem to suffer from writer’s block when I am afraid to be vulnerable or authentic. For me, writer’s block occurs when I try to push a series of events or an outcome in a specific direction. When I experience writer’s block, I feel frustrated and find myself constantly writing and re-writing, trying to create this mythical perfect scene that never seems quite perfect enough, even if I am only writing it in my head. I can typically notice the difference between a good or bad writing day by how I feel at the end of the writing experience. On a good writing day I may feel energized or enlightened, but a bad writing day usually leaves me feeling exhausted and insecure, not the type of exhaustion left over from having flexed every mental muscle, but rather more like the exhaustion of spending all day trying to recollect the memory of a dream without success.

The best way for me to overcome my writer’s block is to find a quiet place where I can write with just paper and pen for a brief, but uninterrupted length of time. However, sometimes, even facing paper alone does not help, and I need to just walk away and let my mind untangle the possibilities and the mess. Many times, I have to be honest with myself about what it is I fear, about why I am afraid to write what I am trying to write.  I know, for me, the hardest scenes to write are the ones I shy away from; it is when I procrastinate the most and find excuses to not write.  The hardest scenes for me to write are the ones that cut at my soul and make me look away.

When it comes to writer’s block, I have found that I am the obstacle, obstinate and unmoving and afraid. It is when I experience writer’s block that I learn the most about myself.  In my struggle to move forward, I also learn why my writing can not move forward either. It is during these times that I have to remind myself of why I write and why I must write. I, too, wonder why I write. I wonder, and I wonder why. I know I will never know why unless I write. And, so, I write.