Sometimes I feel compelled to write a post. I start to write and I keep telling myself that I am just writing it for me and that I am not going to hit publish. I cry while I write it and feel a little better after. But sometimes I have a nagging feeling that I need to share it. Because I feel like we need to listen to those promptings, I hit publish.
I have been struggling. The winter is hard for me. Three winters ago I had a very bad time of it. I rarely made it off the couch before the afternoon and sometimes not even then. I don't handle gray very well. The last couple of winters were pretty good. I was very proactive and did things that helped me like bought fresh flowers once a week, went on walks, kept busy, etc. The past couple of winters were mild which also helped. I am not sure if it is because I had lulled myself into a false sense of security thinking that I had finally figured out how to get it under control, but I am struggling.
I am normally a "Pollyanna" kind of person. I don't like to be negative because I see that as a weakness. If I feel like I am starting down the road of being a Debbie Downer I quickly try to change. In the last couple of months I swear everything has broke that could possibly break and when I am healthy and feeling normal I am the "We got this!" girl. The "We can figure this out." girl. Heck, we've lived with a partially demoed bathroom for 3 years and a broken dishwasher for 2 years. And for the most part I have been fine with it. When our microwave and furnace broke the same week I had a sinus infection I broke down and posted about it jokingly about it on facebook. I said that our dishwasher had been broke for years and we were fine but that the moment our microwave broke we panicked. Something like that. I ended up deleting it because in the comments, to a friend, I had listed all the things that we were dealing with (dishwasher, both cars, furnace, flooded basement, hospital bills from the week long stay with my son, microwave, bathroom) and I realized after the fact that I had been complaining and having a pity party and I was embarrassed. I also deleted it because I got a couple of messages from friends offering help and my pride kicked in. Instead of the positive "We've got this!" it was the prideful "We can do it ourselves."
So why am I writing this on my blog? Isn't that the same as having a public pity party on facebook?
I read that January is the toughest month of the year for everyone. People who struggle with gray like me, people who have lost someone, people who have financial hardships, people who are sick....everyone. And I have been thinking about what we can do about this time of year to help. Here are my ideas. Please feel free to leave any you have in the comments. I would love for this to be an open conversation.
Find a friend. Find a person that you can vent to that won't judge you. Someone that you feel comfortable telling everything you are struggling with. Just the act of saying it out loud to someone can be therapeutic.
Do something for someone else. I have said it many times in the past but it is because it is true. So very true. Looking outside of yourself and your current situation is the best way to feel good, and happy. Serving others will make your burden seem lighter. It will literally boost your mood! If you are not sure what you can do, pray for opportunities to be made known to you.
Focus on the positive. Gratitude is the best balm. I grew up watching the movie Pollyanna and had a mom who often brought it up as a reminder. If you are familiar with the movie, Pollyanna plays the glad game. Whenever she is faced with a sad or unfortunate situation, she looks for something she can be glad for. I am thankful that even though my microwave bit the dust, that our stove and oven still work. I'm thankful that nothing of sentimental value was ruined in the flood. I'm thankful we have insurance and don't have to shoulder the full financial responsibility of the hospital bills. You get the idea :)
Accept help. This one is so very hard for me. I am a very prideful person. I hate admitting I need help. One time in college I ran out of money and didn't have a way to buy groceries. The only thing I had left was a large can of dehydrated potatoes. I lived off of that for a month because I didn't want to have to call home and ask my mom for money or ask my roommates to borrow food. When Shane and I went through layoff after layoff years ago when the economy tanked, there were a few times when we asked for help and it was the hardest, most humbling thing ever. Honestly, if it were not for the fact that we had small kids, I wouldn't have asked even then. This is a lesson I am still learning. I do know that when we let others help, we are allowing them a chance to do service and maybe, they really need it for the same reasons that I listed above. I stink at accepting help but we are currently borrowing a friend's car until we can save and get one of our fixed. I hate it, but I am doing it :)
It was sunny today. My sinus infection is gone. Shane got our furnace working again. I found a Home Depot gift card in my wallet that will cover most of the cost of a new microwave. I am calling to set up payments with the hospital so we don't have to pay it all at once. We found out from the mechanic today Shane's car is not worth fixing so I sat down at the computer and shuffled some money around and I think we can get the van fixed soon and we'll just go back to one vehicle. We'll keep washing dishes by hand and ignoring the giant hole in the bathroom wall. It will be fine. I may not even have to unfriend everyone on facebook who is vacationing somewhere tropical ;)
What you may be going through may be small and petty like what I am dealing with or it may be something a little bigger. I think the same things can apply to both situations. Don't let yourself shoulder the burden on your own. If you don't have someone to vent to, please feel free to email me. We can even chat on the phone if you want.
Winter is hard..... but spring is just around the corner.
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How timely, I was just thinking about this kind of stuff in the middle of the night while waiting for the baby to go back to sleep. I don't know what it is about the winter time but it can do that to me too. About the same time every year in college I would feel like running away...I guess from homework, projects and tests, it was funny because what would I even run away from, I was free to do what I wanted ha ha. I think it was just the cold and gloom of Logan at that time of year, who knows.
Looking forward to spring! Keep on keepin on.
I am an old woman. My husband has Alzheimer's and I have had wonderful times with him for many years. Now I am paying the piper. I wouldn't give up one day with him. One day you will look back and see things through the lens of time and remember only the good things. I hate winter, too. Keep looking up! You are right Spring will be here soon.
You're wonderful and real and that's what I love about you.? Thank you for posting this. It helps others know that everyone goes through stuff. I know that it's hard putting it out there, but people can relate in one way or another. I appreciate your courage. I, appreciate your tips and the fact that you try to be cheerful in the midst of it all, but realize that it's okay to ask for help. I appreciate that you are trying to help others know that they are not alone. You are just the sweetest! I don't even know you but if I did I would love being your friend. ?
Dear Stacy, you are just so sweet - so real. Many of us have gone through struggles much like yours - life can really be hard! Even though you are so blessed - sweet boys and obviously a husband who loves you all - God doesn't promise us a perfect life on earth - better things are yet to come. I hurt for you - let those friends who offer to help - help, because as you yourself said, helping you may be just what they need. It is hard to see someone you care about hurting - helping them in some way, even just listening, helps both friends. You are so creative and your cottage is just beautiful. I, too, would love being your friend! :)
Thanks Stacy for this. I sometimes feel like I'm going crazy during the winter AND that it's only me. Winter can be very depressing. Going to work in darkness and leaving it in darkness always gets to me. I am a person that loves the sunlight. Darkness just shuts me down. Since I've found God, it's not as bad. I still don't like it, but I am better equipped to handle it. I appreciate your honest disclosure and know that you are not alone.
Thank you, Stacy, for being so real and honest. I, too, am struggling this year as we moved from sunny CO to the sun doesn't shine in January IN. And I've found it difficult not comparing my worst to someone else's best on FB/Social media. Please know it's 100% normal to be in utter exhaustion after keeping it together when your son was in the hospital. So please take time for yourself to recover. Let others help you and find peace in your heart knowing your readers are your friends and we're praying for you. You are right, Spring is coming. We can do this!
When we lived in Seattle (200-2012) and the dark days/weeks would come around, I found that having certain things that I did absolutely every day helped keep me grounded and stable. For example, each day I would make time to sit down and read to my son. Each day I would work for awhile on a craft (scrapbooking, at the time), each day I would ready a chapter from the Bible, each day I would listen to some uplifting music. It helped me so much to have these things to focus on--it gave me a feeling of being needed, of purpose, of having a 'calling' in my life. It really doesn't matter what the things are that you do, just do them every day without fail.
Hope this is helpful.
It's not just winter that's hard, it can be life as well. I struggle with the winter too, but you know I found this interesting book called "Excuse Me, Your Life is Waiting" and it's about feellings and choosing the right ones and how to do that. It has helped me immensely.
Just know that others struggle and that you are not alone. There are many things to do and you have listed some really good ones!
Sending you and yours many blessings.
I'm so glad to know that I'm not the only person who feels that way. We moved to Texas from Montana 19 years ago. I don't miss Montana at all. I don't miss the snow and cold. I don't miss anything about it at all. I love Texas. I don't even mind the hot summers. The one thing I don't like is the gray, gloomy days. I get extremely depressed. Our 25 year old son died in a car accident 9 1/2 years ago, 10 in June. This year I'm struggling with the fact that it will be 10 years since I've last seen him. Then having gray skies doesn't help and all I do is cry. I have to push myself to keep busy during those days because all I want to do is lay in bed. You hit the nail on the head when you stated, "Spring is almost here!" I'm patiently waiting.
You definitely are not alone! I find it helps when I get outside to do something, like walk or play in the snow with my kids. I want to try winter hiking or snowshoeing, but I have a little baby that's keeping me inside this winter. I liked this clip from Studio5:
Sending sunny thoughts!
interesting, I am in the midst of enjoying the very few days of winter in so. calif. I have to admit to having many of the feelings you and other readers are describing during the extreme heat of spring summer and fall.. How sweet and honest of you to bring this to our attention and open it up for discussion. Shining a light on any challenge is so therapeutic. It is also a wonderful way for us to see others issues and be able to include them into our prayer life.
I am so very sorry to hear about your struggles. I, too, suffer from being exposed to ongoing gray skies. One thing my doctor suggested was to take vitamin D. I believe it has helped. I take one tablet daily. Good luck. I enjoy your blogs.
My heart doctor said the same thing, use Vitamin D3 and be sure to take an equal amount of Folic Acid. He recommended 1000mg of both every day. And it has really helped a lot!
I am glad you hit publish. This is real and plenty of people (including me) struggle with this. Keep your chin up and remember that action begets action and helping others is awesome so sometimes let other people feel that good. Accepting help is good for you, but also good for the friend who lends a hand.
Stacey, you are a brave woman to share all this on your blog. Many of us suffer in the winter. My depression is year-round clinical variety and I've been blessed that it's stayed stable this winter, so far. Especially in light of the fact that my disabilities that have made it impossible to work since age 52 have all flared at the same time. And I was just feeling like I could start working. Planned to try driving for uber again. Now I can barely drive for errands. And I've had to learn to accept help---a lot. My husband is also disabled and our adult son with autism is living with us, too. Blessing really because he has physical abilities we lack so we balance each other. As you said, it's all in the way you look at things. Can things be worse? ABSOLUTELY. They have been worse and God has brought us though. Praying for you, Stacey.
Stacy, thank you for sharing. I know how hard this was to admit, and how brave you are. We are in central Nebraska. Every winter I ask myself, "What am I doing here??!!" There is not much (if anything) to do outside, where it is always super cold and gray, plus snow. So, that means stuck inside, somewhere. And, we live in a house built in 1904, with not great insulation, so we don't heat the upstairs to save money on bills. At night we turn on our heated mattress pads on the beds. This means most of the days are spent downstairs. It is very easy for me to get in a rut of staying in my pj's with no shower, watching TV or reading. I have to force myself to get out and be social! I think everyone in these climates struggles with this SAD at some level, especially stay-at-home moms. I just watched the Studio 5 clip referenced below, and she has some really good ideas. You are lucky to have some interesting areas around you to explore. There is always someone who has it worse, and all in all, I know we have it good compared to a lot of people who would give their right arm to live our lives! Thank God for all your blessings! I have to remind myself that we are not guaranteed tomorrow, and if I knew this was the last day I had to live, would I be doing THIS???!!!! That usually gets me out of my pity party and into action! I will remember you and how much you are helping others by just talking about this....sometimes that is all we need, to be heard and understood.
This was very inspiring! My skies have been really gray for a while, but the sun is beginning to shine thru! God has been with me for the last 6 months of depression, due to my husband walking out on me. It has been hard, but I am strong and God will prevail in this matter. Praying for you and thanking you for publishing!
Goodness you are spot on in your solutions to getting through the rough spots of life! I will testify that all of these and a healthy relationship with our creator makes the difference between taking the next step and giving up.
Another idea to throw in the mix is vitamin D. I used to suffer with what I called an addiction to the sun. If I did not get myself into some sunshine daily I was grumpy. After years of struggle, my doctor tested my vitamin D level. It was 6 - in a sunny June. Normal is 25 - 50. Now that I have faithfully taken my vitamin D for over a year, my sun addiction is gone and my levels are finally normal. So is the worst of my temper. I find it much easier to be positive and mean it. By talking honestly and openly with my doctor, we found one answer.
There is no better therapy or self help then talking about your problems. You can only do what you can do. I, Love your ideas for feeling better, and, in my opinion, your honesty is refreshing. It's winter, most city's and states are grey and dreary. Acknowledging it, and facing it are the best ways to overcome. We all struggle, even those 'friends' who love everything, have their struggles. Solve one problem at a time, lifte one burden at a time, and most importantly, laugh and love your family! I also struggle, my favorite immediate therapy is laughter. I have a few sitcoms on the dvr that I'll binge watch to brighten my days. And then, i go find an ugly piece of furniture and redo it. :) Keep you fath! Things will get brighter.
Glad you're making it through!
Girl, if I have ever heard of someone who needed a yoga/spin/Zumba/kickbox class it's you! When I was in a serious slump I knew I had to get up and go to those classes and make friends and focus on only the effort I put in and enjoyment.
There is no better therapy or self help then talking about your problems. You can only do what you can do. I, Love your ideas for feeling better, and, in my opinion, your honesty is refreshing. It's winter, most city's and states are grey and dreary. Acknowledging it, and facing it are the best ways to overcome. We all struggle, even those 'friends' who love everything, have their struggles. Solve one problem at a time, lifte one burden at a time, and most importantly, laugh and love your family! I also struggle, my favorite immediate therapy is laughter. I have a few sitcoms on the dvr that I'll binge watch to brighten my days. And then, i go find an ugly piece of furniture and redo it. :) Keep you faith! Things will get brighter.
Sweetie, your thoughts and feelings you have shared here are so appreciated! You are right, so many of us go through similar issues in our lives, but you have the courage to say it out loud! Be sure that we are all sending you huge hugs and love!
By the way, I have a spare microwave I got for a steal but have yet to ever need it. I would be honored and would love to give it to you, where do you live? I'm in CA
Stacy, I would also recommend the Vitamin D supplement. My husband has suffered with SAD (seasonal affective disorder) for a long time, and when he was prescribed Vitamin D for an unrelated reason a few years ago he noticed that he wasn't getting the depression and fatigue he always experienced in the gray of winter. He is prescribed 1000mg daily.
Best of luck to you- spring is on the way!