Back in the days before I got a prescription to cope with it, before I even understood that I have 'Seasonal Affected Disorder," aka Winter Depression, the period from Thanksgiving to sometime after Valentine's Day would see me virtually incapacitated by miserableness, cold and dark and lonely. Typically I would break up with whatever boyfriend I had sometime in October, then spend the holidays valiantly trying to find a place to get out of the metaphysical cold. Thanksgiving would happen anywhere I could get an invitation from some friend or relative with a large dose of pity. Christmas approached with the glow of a city at night in the desert, and usually proved as rewarding as a visit to Las Vegas, so that the year ended with a roller-coaster crash into deeper depression.
Personal enlightenment began in college, when I spent a week in December visiting the Southwestern US, basking in bright sun under incredibly blue skies. I went into December devastated as usual by the abandonment of a boyfriend. I happened to have taken some courses that covered pagan religions' focus on astronomic cycles, and grabbed hold of the concept of the Winter Solstice as the 'low point' of the year. December 21 is the shortest day and the longest night of the year, the point after which every day is slightly longer than the one before.
I held on to that idea, that if I could get through to December 21 things would start to get better, slowly to be sure, but definitely better. Coincidentally, the time in the Southwest gave me a burst of positive energy, so I came home after the New Year feeling a definitely improvement in life.
Life is better for me now. Not only because I have finally recognized the Winter Depression condition and now have medication that helps it, but because I have learned better ways of approaching life. I've essentially turned the calendar upside down for winter. The fall is a time of watching, looking ahead and noting the days' as they shorten and fall down towards their smallest point, down to the bottom of the year. The actual passage of day and night become my focal points, moments of transition, observed, recognized as unique periods in the massive cycle of creation.
Candles seem more beautiful in winter, and conversely so does the dormant earth in my back yard and the bare branches of trees around my home. It helps to be able to afford to heat the house, but so does sewing on quilts that my family wraps themselves in at night.
Instead of fighting the flood of time, struggling against an overwhelming force, I feel carried along within it. Lighting candles, sewing, sending Christmas cards, the phases of the moon: these are markers along the banks that show me my progress through the end of one year and beginning of another.
If you feel the weight of time crushing your spirit today, light a candle tonight and sit and watch it burn for a while and think of me, sitting here doing the same. My thoughts are with you!