This time of year is tough. These cold months between the holidays and the first day of spring are like one giant, perpetual Monday staring you in the face. I’m generally a pretty happy-go-lucky person, but when the chilly months roll around, my personality changes. I get down in the dumps over just about everything.
This time last year, I was living on the Florida coast, where I experienced my first sunny winter in over a decade. I’d always known I tended to fall into a funk each winter, but experiencing a January without snow made me realize just how tough a time I had each year. That Florida winter, I had plenty of energy and optimism — just like I do in the warmer months. When I’m living up north, a typical January for me usually means sleeping late, feeling hopeless and getting close to nothing accomplished. When I saw how good life can be year-round when winter blues aren’t part of the picture, I knew it was time to change how I approach the cold, slushy season. Keep reading »
It’s no secret that becoming a new parent can be one of the most trying times in a person’s life. Seven years later, I can still vividly remember those first few hours and days together, despite the foggy haze of sleeplessness I was in. A plethora of hormones coursed through my body, screwing with my emotions. I’d be happy but I’d cry, I’d be sleepy but couldn’t quell the anxiety that gripped me. I had read countless books and taken a few classes in order to prepare me for this moment. I still felt completely out of my depths.
Welcome to motherhood.
Thankfully, I had an incredible support system: an equally tired husband who had managed to cobble together a month of paternity leave (through FMLA, using up paid vacation, and taking unpaid time off), parents and in-laws who lived no more than two hours away, a doting doula who helped me not only through labor and delivery but with breastfeeding as well, eager friends, and even a visiting nurse provided by the hospital via our insurance. I was fortunate and privileged. Besides many sleepless nights and some stained shirts, I escaped my son’s infancy relatively unscathed. Yet, the same can’t be said for everyone. Keep reading »
Daisy Coleman, the Maryville, Missouri, teenager whose rape by a politically well-connected classmate attracted nationwide attention, tried to commit suicide this week.
Daisy was raped in 2012 at age 14 by some of her male classmates at a party she attended with a girl friend. Both girls were given alcohol by older boys and allegedly raped while drunk; one of the rapes was allegedly recorded with an iPhone camera and passed around school. The night, the boys dropped Daisy and her friend, Paige Parkhurst, off at Daisy’s home. While Paige made it inside, Daisy was left outside on the front lawn overnight in freezing temperatures while drunk. Her alleged rapist, high school football player Matthew Barnett, then 17, had all charges dismissed against him. Matthew is the grandson of a MO state representative. Keep reading »
I would like to applaud Chiara de Blasio, the 19-year-old daughter of New York City’s new mayor Bill de Blasio, for her bravery in speaking frankly and honestly about her struggle with clinical depression and using marijuana and alcohol to cope. The Santa Clara University sophomore just completed an outpatient group therapy program for depression, anxiety, and substance abuse, and in the video above, released by the de Blasio campaign today, Chiara discusses her recovery. “Removing substances from my life has opened so many doors for me,” she says. “I was actually able to participate in my dad’s campaign … Now I’m doing well in school and actually getting to explore things that aren’t just partying.” Keep reading »
On Friday morning I had just sat down at my desk at work when I got the message: my friend Ned committed suicide the day before.
What? No, not Ned. No. No. What? Why? Why now?
I don’t have anything original to say about grief, other than that incredulity, anger and sadness are on rapid spin cycle.
Yes. Yes, Ned. Keep reading »
I hate the term holiday blues. I think that’s because when I was 19, December rolled around and I fell into a full-blown depression, complete with sleepless nights, loss of appetite and thoughts of suicide. The holiday blues sound like an uptempo jazz standard compared to the nightmarish thoughts blaring in my head. I’m hardly the only college student who has teetered on the brink of a breakdown. It’s practically a cliche to experience some sort of mental and emotional suffering when you’re that age. But at the time, it didn’t feel like a cliche. It felt like the fight of my life, the recovery from which, with the help of therapy, was an epic journey up from an underworld I feared I might inhabit for the rest of my life. Months later, sitting in my therapist’s office, trying to solve a Rubick’s Cube that she kept on her desk, I clicked one row of orange squares together and felt a spark of hope. I woke up the next morning and thought, What’s for breakfast? I knew I was doing a lot better — at least enough to begin to function again.
I’ve never suffered another episode of depression, but ever since then, I’ve never experienced a happy holiday season either. I know that this is a particularly difficult time of year for many people. Especially those who suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder or those who are grappling with more tangible hardships like financial struggles or a death in the family. I wish I could say I had a definitive reason to feel so meh in December. It’s much harder to pin down my discomfort around this time of year because it’s not related to my external circumstances — I have a wonderful family, great friends, a happy relationship and a job I love. I have much to be grateful and joyous about and I know it. The thing is, I consider myself a more-or-less happy person — at least for big pockets of time year-round. I understand how to access joy more often as I get older — positive thoughts, low expectations, balance. Even still, at this time of year, despite my best efforts, despite all my blessings, I find myself hanging on tight and crossing my fingers that I don’t spiral into darkness again. Keep reading »