Ironically, today I feel quite good. In fact, I am better than good: I am present and engaged, focused, determined, and happy. “Nothing can mess up my day” sorta happy. But it isn’t the sadness that gets to me, it is the mania: the intense, productive burst I have just before a cold, dark, and dismal storm.
I work from 5 or 6 in the morning until 11 or 12 at night. I run six, seven, even eight miles at a time, and while I sometimes forget to do the dishes or dry the laundry — while I forget to eat and sleep — I have managed to purge my wardrobe, rearrange the kitchen pantry, and balance a 6-month budget all during nap time.
I launched a new website before dinner.
It’s like I’m prepping and nesting.
I’m preemptively taking care of myself.
But I know I can’t keep up this frantic pace. I can’t outrun it and I cannot stop it and, the truth is, that scares me. I scare me.
Especially during this season.
Because don’t get me wrong, there are things I love about winter and fall: Halloween is my favorite holiday. I love costumes, candy, both orange and black, and pumpkins. Anything pumpkin. As a parent, Christmas is nothing short of magical. (I mean, who doesn’t like watching a child’s eyes light up when they see a proverbial sea of presents beneath a blue spruce, Douglas fir, or even stacked on the coffee table.) But with the season comes the stress of expectations, the dread of having to “perform” — of having to slap on a smile when I want to slip inside, when I really want to slip away — and the anxiety of get-togethers I simply cannot get out of.
I find myself struggling to catch my breath.
I feel numb and lonely.
I stay in bed more, but sleep less.
I question my faith, my value, my worth.
I cry over stupid shit, like burnt out lightbulbs and unanswered texts.
I cry over important shit, like love and money.
And I cry because I am crying. I become reclusive because this season makes it easy to isolate myself. Bad weather gives me the excuses I need — the excuses I long for — to cancel plans and hide beneath covers. Throw into the mix that November is the month in which most of my family members have passed and, well, I am a chemically and emotionally imbalanced mess.
But what can I do to stop it?
How can I save myself?
Well, I can’t. I can run and work and take my medication, but I cannot do one damn thing to stop this storm, nor can I avoid it. All I can do is hold on and wait for “it” to hit. All I can do is hold on and try: try to brace myself and trudge through, try to keep myself accountable and afloat. All I can do is breathe and try.