All Is Merry and Bright

…well, not really. Two different people have told me I seemed depressed in the past two days, and the way I felt when I woke up this morning confirmed their suspicions. It’s not at all bad, but I’d better start using my HappyLight so it doesn’t get worse.

Funny how the holidays can bring out both the best and the worst in people. I was disappointed that there were to be no gifts this year, but I don’t need more stuff, and there’s not even a whole lot I want. (Oh, it would be nice to have my own car and an iPad, but those certainly aren’t necessities.) No, I’m just sad that not one thing about Christmas went according to my family traditions, and every year that passes I miss those traditions even more than the year before.

Now, I’ve had a few stern conversations with myself about this, and I realize that it’s not necessarily a bad thing to develop new traditions and put the old ones in the past, along with the family and friends who shared them with us but have since passed on. But the older I get—and I’m turning 60 in about 3 1/2 weeks—I appreciate the past more and more, and part of me desperately longs to return to the days when my kids were young…and even further back to the days when was young. I think of my parents, who weren’t exactly the greatest in the world, but who made Christmastime special every year. I think of my grandmother who loaded up her Rambler with tons of wrapped gifts and came to our house on Christmas Eve. And then I think of Will and how much fun we used to have getting ready for the holidays…well, he cursed when he inevitably fell off the ladder trying to hang up the outdoor Christmas lights, but the spirit was on him and he always finished the job with a smile on his face.

I miss him so much, and never more than at holiday time. This year it seems to be a little harder for some reason. It makes sense in a way because the path of grief recovery is twisted and long, and just about the time you think you’re done with it, it does a hairpin turn and you regress some. I’m not sure if I really have some underlying depression that I just haven’t acknowledged or what, but I’m keenly sensitive to others’ moods these days and tend to jump to the conclusion that they’re angry or depressed themselves. They call that projection, and I’m a pro at it.

But you know, this is where self-awareness comes in, and I’m damn glad I have some. This is the darkest, dreariest time of the year, and we all know my history of “winter blues” goes back decades. Dr. Goodenough doesn’t call it seasonal affective disorder, but he is VERY aware of how easily influenced I am by the dark and the wretched weather. I hibernate (I hate the cold), I sleep more, I eat way too much rich food, and carbohydrates especially. No wonder people think I’m depressed. I’ve probably been this way for a couple of weeks, but now that family is noticing it, it’s time for me to recognize it and act on it. I don’t want to slip so far down that I get to doing some stinkin’ thinkin’ about how the world would be better off if I wasn’t in it.

OK, I know what to do. I’ll start the HappyLight tomorrow, and if that doesn’t help I’ll call Dr. G and let him sort things out. In the meantime, I’ll try to get up a little earlier than 11 in the morning and see about eliminating some of those carbs I love so much. It’s hard to believe that in only a few months I’ll probably be fighting to keep my mood from swinging the other way…but that’s bipolar disorder for you.

It may not always be merry and bright, but it’s life, and sometimes it rear-ends you even when you’re looking in your mirrors and driving carefully. I’ll be OK.


Published by bpnurse

I'm a retired registered nurse and writer who also happens to be street-rat crazy, if the DSM-IV.....oops, 5---is to be believed. I was diagnosed with bipolar I disorder at the age of 55, and am still sorting through the ashes of the flaming garbage pile that my life had become. Here, I'll share the lumps and bumps of a late-life journey toward sanity.... along with some rants, gripes, sour grapes and good old-fashioned whining from time to time. It's not easy being bipolar in a unipolar world; let's figure it out together.

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