It is… November
November, I believe, is the cruellest month. I usually spend it curled up under blankets, hiding from the world, dragging myself from place to place when I must. There was one notable month of my life in which my sister had to drag me out of bed every morning to go to my classes. Every day she came to the door of my room. “Are you going to school?”
And I said, “We-e-e-elllll…”
And she said, “What if I made you breakfast?”
And I said, “Maybe… a toasted tomato sandwich…”
And every morning she made me breakfast, and stood me on my feet, and sent me out to school. In my early 20’s. My younger sister. (Thanks, sister.)
We call this Seasonal Affective Disorder. I am very tired. The world has lost its lustre. All about me is bleak and grey. In years that it was at its worst, I always thought it would last forever.
But I want to unpack that a little bit. I am tired in November because it is dark. It is cold. All about me really is bleak and grey. The season has changed. It is the time for curling up, retreating, hibernating, if you will. Do we say that bears have Seasonal Affective Disorder when they go to bed for four months?
No. It’s the “disorder” part that is the problem here. We have built a world that doesn’t even allow sabbath, let alone entire seasons of retreat. There is NOT something inherently wrong with me. My body works the way it is supposed to. When it gets dark and cold, it shuts down, slowly…
And I am tired, and it is time to go to bed, three hours after the sun goes down. Which makes it 7:15, in November. The children come to my room for stories and then tuck me in before bed. For me, the solution to Seasonal Affective Disorder is not drugs, or light therapy, or even St. John’s Wort (although some of those things help, a little bit.) For me, at least, it is to do less. It is to Go To Bed. To luxuriate in this down time. To revel in these heavy foods, and savour warm drinks, and to finally read the books I never get around to during beach season. And when I do get up to move, (which is easier, since I went to bed at 7:15) it is to do so with joyful intent, not with grim determination. This is the only “treatment” I have ever found effective.
There will be more summers. There will be more springs. It will not always be so dark, so cold, so grey… So November.