Deep Dark January

Zurich 02
Photo of Zurich by Dominik via Flickr. Used under Creative Commons.

I hate January. Every January I get deeply tired and melancholic. For Christmas I bought myself a full-spectrum, sunlight-simulating lamp, thinking it might help, but so far it’s having little effect. In fact, I usually feel the need for a nap right after I’ve used it. I’m like a cat who wants to sleep in a sunbeam.

I have been a night owl for my entire life and it feels more natural for me to sleep during the day than at night anyway. I have such trouble sleeping that I could be mistaken for an insomniac, but the fact is, I have absolutely no trouble sleeping if I allow myself to do so during the day. It’s only when I won’t or can’t do that, like when I’m working, that I get really sleep deprived. I have tried to retrain myself, and my mother certainly tried to retrain me as a child, but to no avail. I feel awake in the dark and sleepy in the light. I have no idea why. Things have only gotten worse since I’ve moved two time zones east from where I grew up. I have never really adjusted to the time difference. I find it actually painful to wake up in the morning. My eyes always hurt for an hour or two, and I am clumsy and incompetent. This is one of the many ways that I just don’t quite fit into society and its norms.

But if it’s not the lack of light that makes me feel like this in January, I’m not sure what it is. Perhaps it’s all in my head.

I also feel trapped inside by the cold. I am very sensitive to cold (especially when my thyroid gets out of whack, which it does from time to time), and I have asthma that flares up in cold weather. I have had embarrassing episodes in public where I’ve been gasping and wheezing and have had to use my rescue inhaler while concerned citizens gather around and look at me. If there’s one thing I hate, it’s attracting attention, and yet I seem to be ridiculously prone to it. Also, when I go out, all the winter outerwear I must have on makes me feel constricted almost to the point of panic at times. I especially hate having anything around my neck. I love the way scarves look, but I hate the way they feel. But then, I hate having my skin sting from the bitter cold, too.

It’s insane that I live in one of the coldest places in the world. With my issues, I should not be here, but when we came here it felt like our only option. My husband was out of work and despite his best efforts, this was the only door that opened for him.

This January, I have an additional factor adding to my low feeling. Someone I am very close to is in the midst of a major health scare. I don’t know if what I’m feeling is so much fear as it is an overwhelming bleak awareness of the inevitability of disease and death. (Yeah, I’m just a laugh a minute right now, aren’t I?) This person has already had a lot of pain in their life; the thought that they might now be facing a very painful end is just horrific. Things have finally settled down for this person in other aspects of life; can’t they just be allowed to have some peaceful, happy years now? Why must some people suffer so incredibly much?

And then comes the anxiety about my own response. I don’t respond the way people expect me to in these situations. I don’t show enough warmth or compassion, even though I feel it on the inside. I can come across very matter-of-fact, as if I don’t care, when on the inside I care so much I can hardly bear it.

Anyway, I know I haven’t been blogging much lately, but I get like this sometimes, going through weeks or even months at a time where I just feel like I don’t have anything to say. I go silent on Facebook at times like this too.

Lately I’ve just been staying home and reading books (I’m reading a Genevieve Lenard novel right now; the protagonist is an autistic, nonverbal communications expert who investigates art fraud, and I found these novels to be greatly enjoyable even before I seriously came to terms with the possibility that I am autistic myself) and watching travel videos on YouTube, wishing and imagining that I were someplace else. I’ve also just started an online speed-reading course, just for something to focus on. But being very communicative just feels beyond me right now.




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