February sucks. Everyone agrees that February sucks, yes? I am well aware of the February suckage, and so because I am a fairly self-aware and productive human who has been in therapy for most of her life (wheeeeee!), each and every February when things get hard I keep reminding myself: “February always sucks. This is normal. Just keep going, because this is a short month.”
That’s good, right? I mean, I always feel really proud of myself while I’m doing that. No matter how long a person with depression deals with depression, one common feature of said depression (how many times can I say depression in this sentence, do you suppose?) is the inability to IDENTIFY said depression at critical junctures. This is why I gave birth to my daughter and white-knuckled it until she was about 10 months old before admitting that yes, I had a massive case of post-partum depression, and why I then had my SECOND baby, and—better informed, and so much more mature and worldy!—showed up for my 6-week post-partum check (COINCIDENTALLY IN FEBRUARY) at 10 pounds under my pre-pregnancy weight and responded to “How are you feeling?” by opening my mouth like a cod and then bursting into tears.
And so February, fucking February, man, it’s always a bad month and I always KNOW it’s a bad month and I manage to hold it together and remember that February is short and that’s GREAT. Except. Except, you see, 28 days is apparently the maximum amount of time I can manage that, plus while I am remembering that February sucks, I often forget—please try to contain your shock—that March is worse.
Why can I see the light at the end of the tunnel in February but tumble straight down into the bottomless pit in March, EVERY SINGLE YEAR, JESUS H. CHRIST? I don’t know. I should maybe figure that out!
When I lived in New England, I was officially diagnosed with Seasonal Affective Disorder at some point, which is hilarious on several levels because I can only assume every medical file with my name on it anywhere says LIFELONG DEPRESSIVE somewhere within. [Sidebar: Technically I am “dysthymic with major depressive episodes,” which in layman’s terms means I’m an irritable bitch prone to infrequent but intense periods of self-loathing. I realize this may seem foreign to anyone who doesn’t deal with similar issues. My brain is not great at contentment, despite my best efforts. Through a combination of medication and therapy, most of the time I do a decent impression of a regular person. Sometimes I can’t, and that sucks.] Anyway, for years I spent an hour every morning in late-winter-into-early-spring sitting in front of a blue light designed to tell my brain “Hey, jackass, the world isn’t ending so please stop assuming it is.” Basically lack of sunlight = Even Less Stable Than Usual Mir. Try to imagine my delight upon discovering that once I moved south, those seasonal bouts seemed to disappear. Seriously! There’s a lot more sun here in general, and definitely tons more sun in the winter. The first few years my February/March dip never happened. I gave away my blue light (those dumb things are stupid expensive) to a friend in a different state whose kid needed one. Woohoo!
But then, of course, through a combination of my body adjusting to my new environs (yes, there’s more sunlight here, but still less in the winter) and the drought ending (here, have 60 consecutive days of rain this winter!), it wasn’t long before this part of the calendar once again came to represent more bad days than good.
Did I replace my trusty blue light? No.
Did I come up with a plan with my prescribing medical professionals to adjust my applicable medications at this time of year? No.
Do I increase the frequency of therapy these months? Sometimes. (PROGRESS!)
Do I mostly just counsel myself that February sucks, February sucks, FEBRUARY SUCKS, IT WILL BE BETTER SOON, and white-knuckle my way into March, wherein sometimes things improve, but sometimes they don’t; and then if they don’t, I have a day where I end up sending a text to my husband that is both so hopeless and nasty that he immediately calls me and I answer the phone with, “Can you please just let me have this tantrum in peace?!” and it occurs to me that it’s March and I am not okay? Shut up. (Okay: yes. But also shut up.)
Am I maybe kind of a dumbass? Yeah.
So hi, my name is Mir, I struggle with depression, and it’s March, and here I am—QUELLE SURPRISE—struggling. The most prominent feature of my particular brand of depression is that I do absolutely nothing for myself because 1) why? and 2) the bulk of my life involves doing for others, and with decreased energy/faculties that’s all I can manage. This works until it doesn’t, as one might reasonably expect.
The good news is that last week I managed two acts of self-care which are unremarkable to anyone whose brain is not like mine, I’m sure, but which were triumphs for me: First, I made myself an appointment to have my hair cut for the first time in… almost a year. I am super-stoked about that because although my loooooong, curly/frizzy rapidly-graying locks fit right in with the whole “aging hippie” vibe around these parts, I’m pretty sure I have worn my hair in a messy bun for about 90-something days in a row because UGH MY HAIR IS IN MY MOUTH MY HAIR IS CAUGHT IN MY ARMPIT MY HAIR IS EXPANDING UGH UGH UGH. In a few days, I might look like I give a damn again. Hooray!
Second, remember wayyyyyyy back in January when I was ASTONISHED to learn that my thyroid was all screwed up, even though I’ve been on thyroid medication for years, even though I was gaining weight and lethargic, even though my hair was falling out (but I have SO MUCH HAIR, y’all, even as the drain is clogging I still have too much hair)? My doc upped my meds and sent me off with a follow-up for three months out. But last week—having been on the increased dose for two months—I actually PICKED UP THE PHONE and called my doctor and said, “Hey, so I know I’m supposed to wait three months, but it’s been two months and I still feel like hot garbage. This isn’t enough medication.” Again, there is nothing inherently heroic about this but for me, where I currently am, it was a Big Deal. The best part is that the doctor listened to me and sent in a new order for bloodwork and FINGERS CROSSED I’m closer to getting on the right dose to feel human again.
Long story not even a little bit shorter: I am struggling (mostly because I’m dumb and bullheaded and wait until everything is awful to NOTICE that I’m struggling) but I’m working on it. And just in case your brain is sort of like mine, allow me to say to you—in the most loving possible way—that it is March and if everything in your world sucks right now BE YE NOT SO STUPID and please take care of you. Okay? Okay.
A quick addendum just in case you’ve been waiting for the conclusion of the currants saga:
The fondly-remembered scones did indeed contain—as we now refer to them—tiny stupid raisins and not REAL currants. That was good news because I now believe “real” currants are mythical. Anyway! I used this recipe (my only variation from it was to make some lemon sugar for the sprinkling at the end). As they are made with Stupid Glutenâ„¢ I could not sample them, but they were well-received and they certainly smelled good.
I now have another 2 cups or so of tiny stupid raisins—excuse me, ORGANIC tiny stupid raisins—to use up, so I made myself a batch of gluten-free morning glory muffins using this recipe (more or less; I subbed a banana/orange marmalade mixture for the applesauce) and they’re the perfect vehicle and also are probably the best-looking gluten-free baked good I’ve ever managed so ADMIRE MY MUFFINS DAMNIT.
Anyway, I’ll be over here baking things and trying to get my crap together. And look at that—we’re already almost halfway through March! Thank God.
March is ridiculous, stupid chaos mixed with drizzly rain and a side of fog. Add in overwhelmed and constantly on the verge of exhausted crying and I could not be more ready for this turd of a month to be over already. Glad I’m not the only one.
Good luck with the thyroid issues and depression.
Tiny stupid raisins are great in muesli or oatmeal.
February and March are always the toughest for my guys. Thank you for reminding me. Theyâ€™re both struggling right now. Maybe I should bake them muffins.
I ADMIRE YOUR MUFFINS!
Glad you’re taking care of yourself. I know it’s hard.
Oh my, sending you hugs and sunny days. I definitely recognized some of that. I also realized that I tend to schedule myself to NOT be here periodically during this months so I’m dosing myself with better climates, apparently, and forcing my also academic husband to occasionally (insert the horror here) miss teaching his class to accompany me. In short, I’m with you and hope your progress continues. Mine is — after two months of my tooth hurting and taking care of everyone else’s issues I have an actual appointment myself this afternoon.
I’m torn, Mir. Of course we all want you healthy and happy and baking joyfully, dammit! But… you write more often when you’re SAD. So… maybe ask your doc to find THAT medicine. You know, the one that helps you be healthy, happy, baking AND writing joyfully. BTW, two of the other bloggers I follow, The Bloggess and Dooce, are also struggling – and writing about it. ”Tis the season! Just remember please: you’re pretty and we love you!
I am with you in February. Hate it. March always seems a little better to me, though. Daylight savings, more light.
I think you should just exclaim â€œADMIRE MY MUFFINS DAMNITâ€ all month. Thatâ€™s sure to make someone smile!
Sorry youâ€™re struggling. Iâ€™m feeling depressed as my oldest son is being an ass and making stupid decisions, but Iâ€™m hopeful he snaps out of it. Fingers crossed for temporary sadness. Hoping April gets here for you soon!!
Those scones are a thing of beauty. As are the muffins. :-)
Currants are a fruit, *but* I have never ever ever seen them dried. So if they’re dried in a recipe or recollection, they’re 99% sure to be Tiny Stupid Raisins (zante currants) instead of actual currant-y currants.
I hope the thyroid medication shift helps all the things out. And yes, it is frustrating that when we’re doing badly, we *also* do badly at identifying that we’re doing badly and what we need to alter. And we also tend to do badly at taking action even when we’ve identified what action needs to be taken. (note: order a blue light. Bonus: they are a lot cheaper now than they used to be.)
Your muffins are hot!
And OMG did February suck. The only good thing about it was that we did actually get our house sold. Bless the hearts of the buyers who moved to MI from CA and then asked for a closing date 3 weeks from offer accepted but then didn’t really seem to understand why the roof guys couldn’t just fix the tiny, minuscule leak when there was 6 inches of snow on the roof. And it kept snowing. The entire fraking state was shut down for several days.
Our weather emeritus guy had a story that fall 2018 had something like 10% of the normal amount of sunshine that we usually get. Jan and Feb 2019 have not been much better. March has been a mixed bag. We have had 2 days of sunshine and it has been glorious. March is my least favorite month because it will warm up and everything melts into a muddy, icky mess. Then it gets cold and everything freezes and we have frozen mud and everything looks brown and sad.
Thank you for letting me get that off my chest. I hope your March is sunny and warm and things start to improve health wise. And that cute doggies do cute doggie things to make you happy.
Actually coming out of a “depression” mode myself this month. I think it might be seasonally related, there isn’t a ton of sunlight here in the winter, some weeks…thing about being in that mode, for me, is that I don’t really recognize how down I was until I start coming out of it. Glad you are starting to feel better, and your baked goods (as always) look aaahhhmazing.
I’m ADMIRING THOSE MUFFINS AS HARD AS I CAN! *admire-admire-admire*… Hmm, weird. Now I’m craving muffins. :)
We are Canadians living in the States and Canadians use currants more often than American’s do. At Christmas when my mum is visiting, she likes to use currants in some tarts she makes and I keep telling her they are mythical beings that are being held hostage at the border because they don’t exist here. Sigh. Tiny raisins it is.
Yes, March is 1/2 way over. Jan – March are hard at our house too.
So, yeah. It’s probably screwed up that when someone tells me I need to take time for myself, I get tense. Almost a sense of defiant “You can’t tell me what to do!”
Also, someone who heard everything that is my current reality genuinely asked what I do fir myself, and ny response was that I run the costume department at ballet. Because while yes, it’s stressful, and yes, involves taking care of tons of people, at least it’s different stress and people than at home? Right?
That’s the story I’m sticking with, anyway. I may not be a bright person, either.
My husband has a schtick (going on 21 years now) where he will respond to a normal, everyday sentence to make it sound like I was asking for something sexual. As in,
ME: I need to put the laundry into the dryer.
HUSBAND (leering): I’ll dry your laundry.
ME: Time to take the dog for a walk.
HUSBAND: I’ll walk your dog.
and, my favorite-
ME: Can you hand me the remote?
HUSBAND: I’ll change your channel. (This one is so stupid sounding it cracks me up every time.)
Trust me, it’s endearing. Really. Anyway, when I read “ADMIRE MY MUFFINS DAMMIT,” my next thought was my husband’s voice in my head (“I’ll admire your muffins”) which made me smile, and so I am passing it along to you in the hopes it gives you a chuckle.
I’m sorry to know you are having a rough time but relieved to know you are coping with the help of family, medical professionals and self-care (enjoy that haircut!). My husband is available for goofy commentary day or night, if it would be of assistance.
That’s awesome. :D
I’m a teacher and February and March are the absolute bottom of the barrel in terms of low points of the year. It’s so bad and so well known that most people call it Farch with a glare and the most disgusted tone you can imagine.
Farch!! Yes, that is it!
YESSSSSS I am going to call it Farch forever now. Thank you for that.
Iâ€™m sorry youâ€™re struggling. And I hope things turn around quickly and that a little self care inspires even more self care. â¤ï¸
I feel your pain and I’m really proud of you for your self care, go you. Maybe Otto can help you remember to do self care things daily/weekly next year? I personally get through January and February with the $7 bouquets from Trader Joes, I can have one every week if I want because my sanity is worth far more than $7. I do hope you’re out of the woods soon and that life gets back to it’s peachy keen rhythms.
P.S. Those are glorious muffins, I’ve been so discouraged with my GF efforts so far,
I hope you’re feeling much better soon, Mir. It doesn’t help that although February is the shortest month, it feels never-ending for some reason.
I feel like an idiot. Do you think the doctor will just read this and know that I may need more medication. Actually she told me I probably did, but I talked her out of it. I am an idiot.
Youâ€™re not an idiot; itâ€™s March. Call your doctor. Please.
February and March are like toddlers. Everyone focuses on how challenging 2-year-olds can be, and we stumble into age 3 grateful for the promise of a little more charm and a stronger self-preservation instinct.
Feb is the â€œterrible twos,â€ but March is the PITA â€œthrottle â€˜em threes.â€
I’m impressed with the amount you are able to do for others while you are struggling (though, as you said, you shouldn’t ignore your self-care so long). I always feel like such a slacker because I do just about the bare minimum for others (at least as far as household duties) and try lots of self care (along with my highish dose of meds), and it’s just never ENOUGH, making me feel like a selfish bitch. Hey, bit at least I can send you virtual hugs! ((*hugs*))
Jeez I have never… ever… seen a better looking gluten free baked good. Ever.
I think next February/March would be an excellent time to take a trip to bora bora where you can sit on a beach with a fancy umbrella drink and a good book. And you might find a million excuses that are really a thing, but the real bottom line is .. you could do it, regardless.
Hang in there Mir.
I actually like to use the stupid raisins in….. salads. They pair nicely with feta and pepitas (or sunflower seeds or almond if that is an easier jam). Basically: lettuce, cucumber, bell pepper (color that is on sale) and mushrooms and then the feta, pepitas and stupid organic raisins and a little salt and pepper.
Good luck with March etc…
And then comes April…which is the cruelest month.
Maybe that’s just in England.
Don’t think I could take it if Farch turned into Farpril.
Your muffins are beautiful!
I am really sorry you are struggling. May March pass quickly into sunshine.
Your muffins look beautiful and I wish I could reach for one through the screen. Although, you’d end up muffin-less if readers could do that…
For a moment there I felt personally offended because my birthday is in February. Then I remembered that Februaries (and my birthday in particular) have been so nasty for several years that my friend refers to it as the day to batten down the hatches. “Oh, it’s your birthday soon. Better lock everything up! One more hour and it begins!” One year I lost my job and my computer on that same day. The next year I lost my monitor and my apartment (hello homelessness).
Over the years I got used to this period being awful and adjusted. On my birthdays I write a pep talk letter to myself for next year (my version of vision board). It’s a nice positive kick when you get a birthday letter from your past self and realize that yes, you’ve actually made some general progress.
However, the last couple of years February has been uneventful for me and even positive. Yes, I know, I’m an awful, awful person! I just… hope it gives you hope that maybe not every year will be like this, and it can and will get better. I sincerely wish you so.
Also, you forgot another good sign: you wrote this post! <3
Your muffins are so pretty!
I think if we all got together we could chip in for a cropduster full of Xanax, and take care of a whole lot of people at once. It should be a February ritual.
Farch is awful, and this year, as an added bonus “spring” has brought me eyes so watery it looks like I’m crying all the damn time.
Thanks for sharing about your dysthymia. I’d never heard of it before, but I think that could be me. I need to think about/research on it a bit, but, yeah, I might get a doctor so I’d have somebody to discuss that with. I’ve been working out regularly since October (when the combination of a not-so-great biometric screening, a friend dropping dead from a heart attack, another friend finding out she has congestive heart failure, and chest pains–which turned out to be heartburn–convinced me I might be mortal and should maybe make some effort to take care of myself), so this February/March hasn’t been as bad as most. Plus, it finally stopped raining EVERY. SINGLE.DAY. I’ve always written off being down this time of year as homesickness, because in Austin and New Orleans, where I’d spent most of my life, spring usually starts in February and it’s almost summer by the end of March. But in Chattanooga, where I live now, it’s usually still cold and dreary until the end of March. But maybe that’s not the whole story.
I really want to thank you for discussing it, because I know it’s not easy talking about mental health issues publicly. My mom’s bipolar, so I have a pretty clear idea of the stigma that’s involved. Or used to be. I’ve noticed several of my friends, especially my younger friends, are open about they’re diagnoses. And I’m always grateful and impressed by their bravery.