It’s June 2 and we have the furnace on. Yesterday never broke past the 40s and today is a definite nose dampener at 52 brisk degrees. Not bad for a hopeful spring day in March, but for a day in what I consider to be the beginning of summer, these temps are completely and utterly disheartening.
I realize it’s ‘only weather,’ but we’ve been out of the northern climate for six months and our bodies (and minds) got acclimated to a range of 70-90 degrees. After living an outdoor lifestyle, it’s hard to go back to being shut up indoors with the furnace on. Especially on June 2.
But it IS really only weather.
Unfortunately, my discontent goes deeper than that.
About two weeks ago, after suffering from mild symptoms like nausea, loss of appetite, mood swings, and daily headaches, I went to see my doctor. He didn’t think twice when he gave me the diagnosis: “Clinical depression.” The only question at that point was which anti-depressant to prescribe, even though I’m fairly sure we all ingest a steady supply of Zoloft in our drinking water. Isn’t that enough?
I’m certainly not wholesale against anti-depression medications but I felt I could handle this darkness on my own.
The doc told me, “You’re not crazy! Everyone has lows. Probably 1 in 4 people in my waiting room are here for an emotional issue.”
I didn’t really think I was crazy but did think it was curious how he repeated that remark at least two or three times. And about the poor people in the waiting room… well, that is just too sad for words.
I’ve been considering whether I should share this with you, but then decided I should. In light of the fact that my blog is all about how we all can live our best lives possible and dream big, beautiful dreams, I felt it was only appropriate to talk about limits, and risks, and — especially — balance. I’m most likely not the only one experiencing this kind of low. I think we can benefit from our shared experiences.
As many of you know, we recently got back from three months in the extremely friendly and culturally interesting country of Costa Rica. My breath hitches when I remember those days of sunshine. Of course, our time there was not without its challenges. But, in general, our life there was good: we enjoyed quality time with each other, daily exercise, an abundance of fresh produce, and lots of time in nature.
Before our time in Costa Rica, we’d spent three months in South Florida, working on a real estate project. While there, we homeschooled, worked, and had loads of physical activity. The weather was phenomenal in the autumn months; the coldest day required only a light jacket and maybe a pair of socks. That was pure heaven for us northerners. We spent most of our time outside.
So after six months of sunshine, challenge, variety, and a ton of physical activity, we arrive back to “regular life” in our old hometown of Erie, Pennsylvania. Everything in our house was the same (which means it’s run-down and needing renovated). The weather was very cold and the skies very gray. Nothing was new or exciting about the routes we took since we’d driven them time and time again. In addition, we were back to the frantic but sometimes empty pace of daily living in modern society.
If you’ve traveled out of your “regular life” for any length of time, you’ll understand when I say I was struggling with reverse cultural shock. The re-entry into my own life was not easy. As always, I thought I’d be able to slip right back in, high-fiving friends and taking up old routines, but (as always) I was dead wrong.
When I travel, I change. Maybe I just become more myself. When I come back, I’m expected to snap back into the same the roles I’ve always played. The same social schedule, the same household duties, the same sights and sounds. I thrived for six months on challenge and variety, and was able to explore who I was in a fresh and freeing way. And then suddenly I’m back to the same-old expectations.
I lived in a way for six months that was exciting. The whole period was an extreme high. I would assume that what I’ve felt since returning is the extreme low that would naturally occur in order to balance me out. The yin and yang. The momentum of the ride, when over, caused my spirit to swing in the other direction.
The blue mood was not cause enough to resort to medicating, though. I knew my mind was strong enough to battle this unrest, that I could beat it with positive thinking, meditation and prayer, gratitude practice, yoga, writing, and plenty of fresh air and physical exercise. I wasn’t ready to knee-jerk into a year of meds just because my soul was going through a phase my mind did not yet understand.
I read up on depression, particularly by way of an article I stumbled upon. (Thank you, God.)
The article, “Spiritual Cause of Depression and What You Can Do About It,” by Eknath Easwaran, is in the Summer 2015 issue of Light of Consciousness magazine. The article essentially explains that it’s inevitable that our mood would crash after it has swung so high. Works kind of like a caffeine crash, you could say.
“If we could stay on cloud number nine, life might be very pleasant. But as all of us know, the cloud eventually evaporates. Then we not only come abruptly back to earth; we usually burrow right into its depths and hide–that is, we go into a depression,” Easwaran says.
He goes on to say that “the problem with excitement is depression” and that “what goes up must come down.”
Easwaran, and other spiritual ninjas throughout history, have offered us clear direction on how not to let this happen. I’m working on it. But, for now, I’m pleased to say I’ve been feeling a lot better. I’m considering how much of my life needs changed to help cure me and how much of it just needs viewed in a different way.
Until my enlightenment comes, I’ll simply agree with the band Matchbox 20 and say that “I’m not crazy, I’m just a little unwell.”