Healthline, which features my site along with nine others on their best of depression blogs has sent me a couple of emails asking if I might share a post from their site about “Seasonal Depression.” — I don’t use the term depression for my experience, but I do find that there is a big natural shift in winter that encourages going inward and slowing down. I have found for a long time now that moving away from the pathologizing of my experience has been a healthy move for me and many of the folks I advocate for. It strikes me that our culture is sick and we need to find ways of going back to basics and our true nature.
I often speak to the changing of seasons on this site and how I see the natural contracting that happens in winter as a part of being human. It’s a sad reality that our society largely doesn’t know how to deeply and profoundly meet the human animal and so it forces most of us to do far more than our animal bodies want to do to also stay healthy and balanced. This means that folks who cannot keep up with the rat race end up believing and being told that they are sick and disordered. It’s a shame, really. All of life contracts in the winter but we humans are supposed to be separate from this web of life. This is how I’ve come to see my natural change of pace in the winter.
I see “S.A.D” not as a pathological process, indeed, not as a disorder, but as our bodies flowing with nature in a natural way … if we let it. Fighting it will, indeed, make us sick, that strikes me as the disorder. We all fight our natural way of being in this culture. We’re all conditioned away from who we are to the point of truly making ourselves unwell. I understand that sometimes framing one’s experience as illness in these contexts is helpful to some folks. I’ve not found it to be for myself and I tend to speak from this alternate framing of these phenomena on this site.
My healing process from psych drug injury, more than anything, has been a coming back to my animal body that knows how to be in this life. It’s a beautiful process really, but oh, man, has it been a long hard haul. In surrender I am now finding this winter beautiful as I slow down and go inward with a deep gratitude to be alive. After almost dying last winter I am indeed rather pleased at the change this year. Pleased is an understatement but it’s hard to make clear just how I feel because truly coming into the body and being here now is also a bit anticlimactic. No bells and whistles, just grounded pleasure to be alive.
So if all of nature contracts in winter…why shouldn’t we also do the same?
In any case the items listed in the comfort kit in the post from Healthline is quite good for supporting our natural contractions in winter regardless of how we choose to frame what is happening. Most of what it suggests I either do or have tried at one time or another. Anyone who has read me for long knows I love epsom salt baths! Also getting out in nature is a critically important part of my life all year-long. And mindfulness and meditation is an all year long 24/7 affair for me as well. I wouldn’t be here without my process. It’s foundational.
I don’t, on the other hand have any interest is filling up my social calendar and that seems like something that is very personal. I didn’t even know I was an introvert until I started my healing process. I believed I should be out there mixing with humanity far more than is actually healthy for me, so getting stuck at home ill helped me find that aspect of myself too, so that’s not something I need to pursue more than what comes naturally … Number 6 in the post from Healthline is filling up the social calendar. I can tell you when I need to go inward ( — a deep dive into myself, getting quiet) … socializing a lot is the last thing I need or want. I do, however, participate in the local ecstatic dance scene a couple of times a week as part of my mindfulness practice and it’s lovely to be connected to my community there. Of note, I can go or not go as my body dictates and desires and so there is no pressure to show up. It’s certainly nice to be around my community when I’m up for it. I love it and it’s a very important part of my life.
I hope we can all learn to enjoy the quiet darkness of winter.
- Fall into winter: a time of contraction
- Expansion and contraction
- Thoughts about the change of seasons…fall is upon us, winter approaches
- this fragile web: why every moment matters (Happy Winter Solstice and Holidays)
- Winter lull…
For a multitude of ideas about how to create a life filled with safer alternatives to psychiatric drugs visit the drop-down menus at the top of this page or scroll down the homepage for more recent postings.
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