So when I started this blog back in April, I promised to share. And recently, it’s been harder to do this. My blog posts have become less frequent, and I abandon ideas about what to write before I even start writing. It’s dark and wet and horrible outside, and the damp is starting to become an issue inside (good old Cardiff houses). My headaches are back, although they seem to have morphed into a weird tingling sensation which is unpleasant, rather than painful, and I feel pretty stressed out. I’m writing a chapter on miscarriage in literature, and finding it difficult to motivate myself – even though when I am fully immersed in writing, I actually relax, enjoy myself and produce good work. These past couple of weeks it feels as though I am balancing upon a knife edge as far as my mood is concerned. I have weird dreams, and take ages to get to sleep. Though I have what I often describe as a ‘long runway’ in the mornings anyway (it takes a while for me to get in the air, but once I get going, boy can I fly) it seems longer than usual. Too immersed in work, and I don’t look away from the screen for ages, and then become very stressed. Not immersed enough, and I start to feel overwhelmed by everything – giving equal weight to a variety of worries that in reality all mean different things and shouldn’t be worried about all at once. The thesis! The job market! My poems! Titles for my poems! Ozzie’s IBS! Money! Teaching! Headaches! etc, etc.
Yesterday, I had a panic attack right-smack-bang-in-the-middle of the department canteen, which was full of students. I don’t think they even noticed. Nothing bad happened, and it passed. I’m fine and not fine, a fully-functioning human being and a car crash. Everything is wrong. Nothing is wrong. Things are wonderful and I’m a lucky girl. Things are depressing. Why am I depressed? I thought I’d got better. God, I wish it would stop fucking raining.
Ozzie, by the way, doesn’t want to leave bed either. Every morning, he follows me to the living room and snuggles in to my side while I eat my toast; then I go to get dressed and he (disgruntled at being dislodged) goes back to bed. He is very cwtchy, and occasionally a bit grumpy.
Is this what SAD feels like? According to the SAD Association, a mild form of Seasonal Affective Disorder affects about 20% of the UK population. This is known as ‘Winter Blues’ or ‘Sub-syndromal SAD’. 2% have it worse than this; for them it is a seriously disabling illness and requires treatment. Of course, I am recovering from depression anyway, and I wouldn’t dare diagnose myself – that’s what GPs are for. But I do think that this time of year – when the light is fading, when it’s cold and dark and wet and windy – doesn’t help matters.
So how do we find the sunshine again? Apparently, light boxes and Vitamin D can help. But I have also done a couple of things recently which it pays to remember on days like these, when my Peacocks mac is put to the test and I find mud streaking the backs of my legs and wet leaves gathered in the upturned hem of my jeans…
I have joined a poetry workshop group, full of such established and talented big-hitters that I can’t quite believe they’ve let me in. I took a couple of poems along to the basement of a hostel/bar where the workshop is held (it’s all a bit Fangtasia, though they’re not vampires, I hope) and they liked them! They pointed out the flaws that I hadn’t spotted and assured me that the things that I felt were problems were actually fine.
I read some poems at Octopoet, an event at the Made in Roath Festival that I’ve never before attended. The crowd was great, the other poets were wonderful, and a reviewer named Rebecca Roy wrote a bloody lovely account of the event.
My contributor’s copy of Poetry Wales arrived!
The tax man has written to me, enclosing a healthy cheque for a tax rebate. Thanks HMRC!
Greg is wonderful. I don’t know where this man came from (well I do – Wrington, actually) but he doesn’t seem to be going anywhere, despite the tears at 11.30pm, the hangriness (I’m like a walking Snickers advert when I’m hungry) and Ozzie’s perpetual tyranny. The funny thing is, he seems to think that he’s the lucky one.
That’s my sunny list for now. A friend of mine also recommends writing a ‘happy list’ and a ‘worry list’ every day. I’ll be back, hopefully more frequently, as writing this does make me feel happy. You can tell by Ozzie’s expression that he thinks I need to stop worrying about myself and just get on with it – and pay him some attention instead. That’s tough love for you, human. Now, where’s my lunch?