Here it is January. It was cloudy and snowy for days. The sun is shining today, but bleakly. Christmas and the rest of the holidays are over. They served as a temporary lift from the dark, depressing days of winter that every year remind us of the inevitable destiny we all share.
But, no, it isn’t all bad, just mostly. I don’t know why, but my regular seasonal depression is worse this year. I started feeling flat and unhappy sometime around Halloween, a holiday that was started to point out the return of darkness, the time when the spirits of the underworld again manifest here in our vale of tears. Recent news events have not helped.
For weeks I could not write, and painful memories and feelings arose. I read worthless trash, and was even drawn to watching mainstream television programs (I mostly resisted). I was crabby, restless, and had trouble sleeping. In times past when the melancholy struck, I would turn to drink, but I know it is only a temporary bit of oblivion that makes the everyday reality even more painful.
I got my meds changed, and the depression has lifted enough to allow me to write and get out of the house for a movie (Into the Woods). I feel a bit better, and the return of the sun is helping.
Abraham Lincoln said that the secret of happiness is happiness. That is true but he remained a melancholy. Maybe we have these times to remind us of the good times we so often take for granted. Maybe depressions force us to go inward, to leave daily life out there and look into those corners of our being we try to ignore.
Carl Jung wrote about the need to integrate the shadow, that part of the psyche that lurks behind the face we try to present to the world. If that part of the personality is ignored, it will surface as beliefs and acts that seem to be the opposite of who we want to be. The tragedies of twentieth century point out how the shadow operates in society as well as in the individual.
Depression brings the shadow out, especially at 3:00 AM. When it happens to me, I get to look at the events in my life I regret. I have to acknowledge that I have hurt people, been a bully, lied, shirked responsibility, had rage episodes, cheated, stolen, and overslept. If one tries to bury the dark side, it will surface in a more virulent form.
Learning to accept my shadow allows me to see when it wants to come out, and I am better able to deal with it. Carol, my wife, calls it the other Bill. Now my shadow mostly surfaces as irritability. I usually am able to recognize it and deal with it before I make a big ass out of myself. Depression makes me more irritable.
Today I am sitting in the doctors office while Carol has a procedure. With a few days of the medication change and some sunshine, the depression has eased somewhat, even with less sleep than normal. I think things are improving, even with the bad coffee here.