The Winter Bill Blues

by Bill Brenner on October 9, 2012

This is a typically a shitty time of year for me, when I come off the high of summer and crash hard onto the cold pavement. When the days grow shorter and the air colder, I become easy prey for seasonal depression.

And when that state of mind sets in, I usually do something very stupid.

Winter 2011: By February, I was forgetting things all the time, including Valentine’s Day. I was traveling on this day of romantic feelings, and I forgot to sign my wife’s card and leave it where she could find it. I left it in my storage drawer in the garage, but I got embarrassed and lied to her, saying I got to San Francisco to find her card still in my laptop bag. At some point during my time away, she went to put a stray pair of gloves in my drawer and found the card.

Winter 2012: It was nearly a year to the day since that last big fuck up, and I was sitting at the airport waiting for another flight to California. Erin called and asked me if I told Duncan he could stop taking medicine we were trying out for his ADHD. The day before he had been freaking out about the potential side effects he heard the doctor mention, and in a moment of weakness I caved. I promptly forgot, and now, while I was at the airport, Erin was dealing with Duncan and what I did the day before. The worst part wasn’t that she had to deal with a difficult child. It was that in a moment of not thinking things through, I arbitrarily made a decision Erin and I should have made together.

A very stupid chap, that Winter Bill is. A hurtful, stupid chap.

The real kick in the ass is that I do deal with winter better than I used to. The last couple winters, the depression came and went. In previous winters, the depression was constant.

And so the challenge is to get through an entire winter both less depressed and more mindful, which will prevent me from doing the really dumb things.

In recent days, signs of the Winter Bill have emerged. I forgot to deposit a check that needed to get into the savings account. I had an episode of crankiness yesterday that came out of nowhere. And yet I’m not dreading the coming winter and shorter days as I have in the past. There are a few reasons for this.

One is that I’m taking a mindfullness course that should give me new skills for getting out of my self-absorbed head.

Another is that I have picked the guitar back up and am looking forward to the joy it’s going to bring me as my skills grow. Nothing gets you out of your head like making music.

In past winters the feeling was all dread. I was annoyed that I’d have to deal with these feelings, that I couldn’t hang on to the good feelings I got from the endless summer sun.

This time, I think I’m eager for the challenge. I want to learn to enjoy life despite the darkness. Oh, I won’t go through it with zero depression. That’s just not realistic. But I think that maybe I can do this without the big annual stumble. I’m ready to try.

I have my eye on you, Winter Bill. You don’t scare me.


{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

bobbi jo March 1, 2013 at 2:19 pm

Hey Bill,
This post resonates with me as I have SAD, anxiety and depression. Winter is extremely hard for me and I over eat and over sleep. I get irritable for no reason and it stays with me.
Like you, staying distracted with a favorite activity helps as does staying aware of my mindset. 🙂

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