A lantern in the snow

Winter Jess is coming: My seasonal affective disorder is back

As the days grow long and dark, someone is coming to drag me back to my winter home, which resembles a deep, dark, damp cave.

Winter Jess feeds on sleep, and she’s ravenous. It means that by 6:30 pm I’m in my bed, and no matter how early I go to sleep or how late I wake up, it’s never enough.

Winter Jess wants me to herself. It means being around other people becomes extremely difficult for me. The gravitational force of my bed becomes insurmountable. The warmth of my apartment keeping me cozy, scared of going outside into the wet and cold. Cancelled plans and cancelled workouts lie in my wake.

This will be the third year that Winter Jess has come to live with me.

I thought perhaps that it was brought on by the fact that for the last two winters I wasn’t running, and she was like, “well she’s not busy so she has time to wait on me hand and foot.” I thought this year would be different because I had made running and strength training such a structured part of my routine.

Alas, it seems Winter Jess (WJ) has grown accustomed to her seasonal vacations in my brain. Because as the air cools around me, I’m finding that pull returning and getting stronger each day. I guess I can’t outrun her after all. Endorphins can only do so much.

I also think I’m a bit burnt out on training, which isn’t helping matters. I guess training for a few back-to-back races wasn’t the greatest idea, but they were “only” 10ks so I thought it would be fine. When I get this way, I rebel against my training plan and think things like I don’t want to run that stupid race anyway! And it’s allowing space for WJ to creep in and make her nest.

Since I would like to work on getting this “guest” out of my house by January when I need to start marathon training, I’m going to give myself permission to maybe skip the half marathon next month and just work on maintaining my base fitness instead. I’ll run 5-10 km three days a week, strength train twice a week, and not put any pressure on myself to do more than that until January.

When the date of my half marathon comes, I’ll decide last minute whether or not I want to run it. It’s not for Winter Jess to decide now when all she has plenty of time to convince me otherwise. I’ll let myself decide at the very last minute before Winter Jess even gets an idea of my plans. Until then I’m just going to put it out of my mind.

I really need to get myself one of those sunlight lamps this year, though. Because I’m not going to have another winter depression if I can help it.

How do you deal with seasonal affective disorder? Do you even have it? I never used to, but some articles I’ve read have said it can come on later in life, like allergies. Humans are strange.

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