"Depression Fog"... © Rolly A. Chabot
So this is life in Alberta... so you say. This morning I awoke to a nasty looking white blanket of snow covering everything in sight. It has been coming the past several days. For those who live in the snow belt you know the signs. Temperatures falling, a tease of warmer days only to find the next is cold and wet with rain, then this.
We have come onto the season again where the Fireside is open. Writing here seems to traditionally fall upon the winter months, thus this intrusion again into your lives. Allow the apologies in advance for hiding all these months, but then I have several excuses...lol.
Summer months are busy with all the yard work and of course there is the old stand by, standing in the rivers in the region fly fishing. It is the place where a man can clear his thoughts and only await the snap of the line with the promise of the big one taking his offering. As a full time novelist, it is the place where stories are born. The cadence of the fly casting are perfected and the love of the great outdoors are tucked away for the long winter months ahead. It has been a fruitful year and the hidden cabin along the Clearwater River becomes a writing refuge for me. I will be spending 10 days out there again starting next week.
So gather around, get comfortable, snuggle in close. If you are new here, well we all welcome you. This is a safe place and a place filled with love, any of you who have been here before, please help the new guests along. Say hello, help yourself to the offerings, coffee, hot chocolate and tea are on the table. Welcome to the Fireside and please make yourself at home... Know above all else that you are loved.
We all have them, no matter where we live. They come and they go and will always return as long as we are around. Along with the seasons we do have moods which change, the change can be subtle or they can be drastic. For those of us who live in the regions where they are drastic such as the Canadian winters they can have unexplained health issues. Mainly in the way we relate to ourselves and others. They can vary in most people but I think they can all fall into the category of mild to severe depression.
Seasonal Affective Disorder is very serious and will zap the life from you if allowed to continue to have a place to occupy itself in your life. Many years ago I lived in a part of northern Canada called the land of the midnight sun. Here the sun would only duck behind the horizon for as little as an hour. June 21st was the equinox where it never left the sky. It was the time of year where you could work, fish, hunt or camp basically 24 hours a day. To begin with it was difficult adjusting sleep patterns and living a life with some semblance of being normal. I did love the summer months there in the far north as they afforded me more time than I knew what to do with.
Then came the long hours of winter months where at the peek equinox the sun would not appear until 10 am and disappear by 2 pm. Living beside the Yukon River brought another phenomena called Ice Fog. So thick you had to depend on your senses as to where you were. With no bearing to reference it would leave with a sense of insecurity. It would last for up too 7 months of the year along with temperatures that would often dip down to 50 below for weeks on end. Once I experienced an unheard of temperature of -72 below. It is here where the only thing that matters is keeping the fires going and being certain you have all the food and supplies you need in the cabin. Ropes ran from the cabin to the cache, the wood pile and outhouse and back again, so as to never lose your way.
The first year I experienced Seasonal Affective Disorder was devastating and I could not for the life of me figure out why I was in such a funk. That was far before the time of the intranet and sadly far before I was willing to share with anyone the way I was feeling. It was something I had never experienced before for long periods of time. I became the proverbial human bear and just hibernated and the depression which attached to it grew a terrible root inside of my otherwise positive spirit. It became a curse that first winter. Cabin Fever was born within me and I had nowhere to hide but under the covers.
Sharing Is Key
The second year I experienced it again, my stubborn self explained what I was feeling to a doctor friend I will call Dr. Don. A medical doctor but one who was holistic as he looked at the whole person. We were sitting in my cabin sharing a coffee when Don asked me what was the matter. I immediately told him nothing and he laughed, I was offended and the next day I saw him in his office. He gave me a pack of needles and a bottle of B-12 with instructions of taking a dose every week, along with some vitamin D. His final words were, "Get out while the sun shines and do something, you need sun man, all you can get."
That was the first winter I began to feel more like myself. He also gave me a book on the subject of S.A.D (Seasonal Affective Disorder) which I found must have been written for me. It is real and if left untreated can cause a severe and devastating pattern in life.
You do not have to live in the wilderness of Canada to suffer from it. In all likelihood you will find it lurking right at your back door. If you find yourself feeling low or off in the least way I suggest you read this article from the Mayo Clinic, be sure and click on the section "Symptoms."
There are many different ways to treat S.A.D. but basically they all start with recognizing the signs and dealing with them as they occur. Talk to a friend, share what you are feeling. Keep a journal of what you are experiencing and the change of the seasons, barometric pressure changes effect us dramatically. You will find they are all intertwined, once understood they will become a part of your past as you seek new ways to ward off the dreaded winter blues, as they are also called.
Keep in mind there has been a tendency for Joe Q public to attach a label or stigma on depression. The sad part of it is these are the same people who wear their masks out in public and bury the fact they have it as well. I think we all need to look deep inside and realize we all suffer in various degrees with it.
My simple diagnosis as a lay person without any credentials is to ask, "What is it that feeds depression?" For me it was the negative in life, it can be all demanding of us to stay positive, it is something we have to work at. S.A.D. is real. Once it is understood it is easier to accept. The need to get out, speak to people and search out some sunshine and find the positives are the best cures we can find for our own healing... Hugs to all and thanks for sitting by the Fireside...