by Colleen Baker, mental health blogger
(Courtesy of syracuse.com)
We go to school in Syracuse, New York, one of the coldest, cloudiest, snowiest places in the country. We are all feeling it, but not everyone is saying it—we’re depressed and sick. The holidays are over, the clouds are constantly hovering, and our bodies are trying to fight of the flu, sinus infections, and overall crappiness.
For example, I was excited to start my posts back up again last week, but I literally could not get out of bed nor think in an even close to proper state of mind. Now I’m left with a ton of readings to make up, lectures to catch up on, and a lingering emphysema-sounding bark/cough. Thankfully DayQuil and NyQuil in a regimented back and forth can slowly get us back to speed, but starting classes back up in the middle of a Syracuse winter is near impossible, not only on our bodies, but our minds.
Our Syracuse sun sets around 5 p.m. lately. So, if you have class from 11 a.m.-5 p.m. on a given day, it is already dark as midnight by the time you get home. Overcast days and darkness are proven depressors for anyone. The mixture of coming back to schoolwork, the darkness, the hovering dark clouds and chill-to-the bone weather are all a mixture of depressing factors in our day-to-day lives. So how do we get over the darkness and keep our heads together when all we want to do is sleep to forget about how gross it is out and cuddle in the warmth?
It seems impossible right now, but sunnier days will, in fact, come and there are things to look forward to. I find that when I’m feeling depressed and down (like how I am now after a week of sickness and a ton of work that I just don’t feel like pushing myself to do), looking forward to something happier makes the depression a tad less harsh. For example, spring break is actually only 37 school days away—not bad.
Feeling like you have absolutely no drive to do anything is an aspect of depression and it is understandable at this time of year. Just last week, I took a nap to wake up to the complete darkness and a list of work to catch up on. So, I cried it out for ten minutes and then quickly told myself that this was not the end of the world, this feeling would pass, and it would get done. So, I hopped off the bed, threw some makeup on and did my hair. Before I knew it, I was smiling and carefree again.
In the moment, winter depression hits you like a brick and paralyzes you emotionally, but I promise that if you just wait it out, turn on the lights, put on some loud music, or cry to your boyfriend (I may or may not have done that…), the darkness will fade away. When you feels like this, you get a glimpse at what being a depressed individual feels like, but it is in no way permanent. As human beings, we need sunlight and warmth to maintain a level of happiness. Living in Syracuse will quickly and coldly make this simple task a lot more difficult.
Don’t give up if you feel this way. Crank up the tunes, think of somewhere warm or happy, and forget about your work for a while. In terms of importance, your well-being—mental and physical— ranks much higher up than getting your homework done. That was my motto when my anxiety was at its peak in high school and remains the same today with depression, sickness or the usual anxiety. Know that it will get done eventually, but only if you can take care of yourself first. If not, the cloud hanging overhead will just continue to follow you and that surely gets in the way.