Well here we are. Yesterday was the shortest day of the year, winter has officially started.
When I was a kid, I loved winter. I grew up in Wisconsin and winter was ice skating, sledding down the hill behind our house, and hoping every time a snowstorm was predicted that school would be canceled. I would flick the porch light on after the sun went down and watch fat flakes drift to rest, my excitement building when I went to check again an hour later and found more. On weekends my mom would help my brother and I bundle up and we’d tromp around through the woods for hours, then come home and have hot cocoa to warm up. I remember it fondly.
But somewhere along the way that changed. It wasn’t that I started hating the snow or the cold, although it was less fun once I grew up. No, it was that I started having periods of time where apathy or melancholy kept me from enjoying the things I normally loved, and my productivity would suffer. I stopped looking forward to winter, and eventually dreaded its coming.
If I went and saw a doctor, I imagine I’d be diagnosed with seasonal affective disorder. But I’m fortunate that I don’t get these episodes as often or as severely as some do, and I prefer managing it on my own. I’ve almost written this post up several times over the years, but it’s such a delicate subject. I finally bring it up today not for personal reasons, I’m actually in a pretty good place right now and to be honest, prefer keeping it private. But because there’s still such a social stigma surrounding depression, anxiety, and related disorders that it feels like a disservice to keep my mouth shut when what I have to say might help other prospective full-time travelers who suffer from the same problem.
I also debated long and hard about whether it was appropriate to release this post in the middle of the holiday season when most people are expecting fluffy cheerful content. But really, this is often the hardest time of year for people with depression, so it seems very meaningful to publish it now.
I hate to offer advice because I’m not qualified, and everyone’s different, and I realize I don’t suffer from depression as strongly as some do, and I hardly know the messy intricacies of my own mind much of the time, let alone hope to fully understand anyone else’s.
So I’ll just do what I always do: share my own experience.
I’m sorry to report that becoming nomadic and living my biggest dream did not magically fix this problem. Winter is still harder for me than summer is, and I make changes accordingly. Staying in the sunny southwest helps a lot. I work with the ebb and flow of my energy and creativity, and don’t beat myself up too much when I can’t do as much as I would like.
The good news is, despite still experiencing lows, overall I am a happier and more content person since I started traveling. When I’m not in a funk, I have so much appreciation and love for this lifestyle and I have no regrets about hitting the road. And when I am in a funk, I do feel like living this lifestyle helps more than some others, because it allows me the freedom to be flexible with my schedule, get out in the sun in the middle of the day and shift my workload.
But a lot of my personal solution came down to internal work, not my external circumstances.
People remark all the time on how happy a person I seem. I’m happy much of the time because I work hard at it. My attitude of gratitude is a product of intentional practice on my part. It doesn’t just come naturally, and I think that’s what people fail to realize.
But, sometimes I’m incapable of being happy. And I’ve come to accept that it’s a product of brain chemistry, and that it’s okay to not be happy 100% of the time. It doesn’t stop me from full-time RVing, and it shouldn’t stop you either. Just take care of yourself.
Alright, I feel like that’s enough gravity and vulnerability for one blog post. The next one will be lighter: my travelogue for Snyder Hill BLM area in Tucson, AZ.
Happy holidays everyone. And if you’re struggling with the ‘happy’ part, much love and hugs. <3
Edit – Companion blog post: