Winter feels like an excuse.
Every winter my motivation hits rock bottom and the days become a sordid haze of repetition. I get stuck in a funk I can’t really break. Every late December I sit in front of my computer trying to plot out my new year and when the date changes, not much else changes.
January to February, February to March, March to April. It is 120 days destroyed from my calendar, never to return. Through highs and lows, events with friends, loved ones and wish they were loved ones, I try to get through it without anyone really noticing that anything is different. Because nothing is different technically. Every year this happens like clockwork. I wake up cold, I goto work cold, I work cold, I go home cold, I go out cold, I sleep cold. It’s a failing struggle to be warm, motivated or alert.
Seasonal Affective Disorder (S.A.D.) is a real thing a lot of people don’t believe is real and to be quite honest I still grip with the idea of it being real as well. Plenty of people live through the winter months just fine without feeling like their motivation is broken. Most work through it. People can be creative and motivated just fine. I rarely hear about people struggling to be creative or motivated throughout the summer, aside from on vacation. But the moment it starts getting cold it’s impossible to hook onto an idea for me. I’ve read several journal entries and mission statements planning to do something great. They always wither and die on a vine dipped in frost.
Beginning in May it just felt right to go back to trying to be motivated and in my first weekend I feel great. Of course I feel great, it just started! But the biggest reason is the weather is warm. I’m no longer trying to figure out what I’m going to wear to stay warm. I’m always going to be warm. Even moreso after walking home from my old neighbourhood. My ankle and feet hurt but the heat rising from my shoulders from the sun being against them during the peak of the afternoon just brings comfort. When I sat down to write a blog piece for the day I didn’t have much to think about. I haven’t even taken my ADHD medication for the weekend. Yet writing about how the cold months freeze my gears just dripped out so easily. Maybe it’s because I’m trying to ignore the Montreal Canadiens terrible collapse at home against the Tampa Bay Lightning, but I find it peculiar how easy it is for me to motivate myself to even write this before the clock comes closer to midnight. I’m no longer fighting with myself. I no longer feel like a block of food in the freezer waiting to defrost and thaw so it can be cooked. I’m ready.
But back to S.A.D. How does this get to me? When did it start? I recall a winter back in 2000 or 2001, around the time I first gained weight. I did next to nothing that winter, especially during the holiday. I recall putting on some pounds (we’re talking 120lbs to 160lbs) and wondering what happened. Fast forward to college and I can recognize that my grades always slipped when the weather got colder. Finally there’s 2013 when I went for a third year and didn’t finish because the A.D.H.D. became an overwhelming problem and I had a nervous breakdown. It didn’t happen in June. It happened in the cold months. Things didn’t really feel better for me after flunking that year and having to go search for a job but I remember feeling rejuvenated around July, like I had finally turned a corner. I would take long bike rides, sometimes two hours long. Maybe I wasn’t being creative but I was certainly clear and free of whatever destruction I left earlier in the year. Eventually things fell into place and not only was I headed towards a job again, I was headed towards change.
I’ve come to realize that starting in May, I don’t have the rest of the year ahead of me. I have until around October, maybe November. Then I have to think about how I’m going to sustain myself in the coming months. If I’m starting a major project, I need it either done by then, or at least so ahead of schedule it can look like I’m doing more work when I’m not. I’m just releasing already completed work. All I know is that having this perspective changes quite a bit.
Again, I don’t expect people who don’t have this issue to get the issue. The brain is a weird thing. I don’t get it myself. But it’s clear it happens. Oh, and the Habs game is over. That’s a relief.