The “D” Word

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

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  1. Becky on January 1, 2018 at 3:02 pm

    Thanks for sharing everyone!

  2. Robin on December 31, 2017 at 2:00 pm

    Me too… acceptance and managing my own personal unique self has been the key also.

  3. Robert on December 30, 2017 at 11:35 pm

    I too enjoyed winter as a kid growing up in northern Idaho, sledding, snowmobiling, building snow forts. And like you, the older I got the harder it has become to deal with the lack of sunlight. Five years ago I started going to the Southwest with my motorcycle to ride for a couple weeks and soak up the sun. Last winter, while in Mexico riding, and having a great time and completely getting out of my winter funk, I made the decision to move into an RV and chase the sun. I’ve spent the last 10 months buying and renovating an RV, selling my business and house and all the stuff one accumulates, and learning as much about the lifestyle as I can. Your videos, as well as the numerous others on YouTube, have been of great help. And in less than a month I’m heading out. Depression isn’t fun, at times It’s downright excruciating, and it sucks the enjoyment of life out of an individual. So thanks for writing this piece and sharing your thoughts. You aren’t alone!

  4. Kent on December 29, 2017 at 8:30 am

    Dealing with the “D” …. I could write a book………..
    I’m reminded of a poem.
    And, realize the truth in it more now in my life than ever.

    “All I Really Need To Know I Learned In Kindergarten”
    by Robert Fulghum

    Most of what I really need
    To know about how to live
    And what to do and how to be
    I learned in kindergarten.
    Wisdom was not at the top
    Of the graduate school mountain,
    But there in the sandpile at Sunday school.

    These are the things I learned:

    Share everything.
    Play fair.
    Don’t hit people.
    Put things back where you found them.
    Clean up your own mess.
    Don’t take things that aren’t yours.
    Say you’re sorry when you hurt somebody.
    Wash your hands before you eat.
    Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you.
    Live a balanced life –
    Learn some and think some
    And draw and paint and sing and dance
    And play and work everyday some.
    Take a nap every afternoon.
    When you go out into the world,
    Watch out for traffic,
    Hold hands and stick together.
    Be aware of wonder.

    • Theodora annie davis on December 29, 2017 at 11:26 am

      I love 💕 it!!! Thanx for reminding us!!!!

    • Becky on December 29, 2017 at 8:42 pm

      It’s a cute poem! I actually heard it in school.

  5. Chris Blair on December 28, 2017 at 7:16 pm

    To a beautiful soul, I wish you Merry Christmas and the very best this new year. Even without knowing you, I know it is what you deserve.

  6. Becky on December 26, 2017 at 11:14 am

    I took the past two days more-or-less off from the internet to focus on the holidays and being where I am and reflect on this year and think about the next one. And it warmed my heart to log back on today and see this conversation still going.

    Thank you all for following IO! I hope those of you who celebrate Christmas had a great one, I sure did. 🙂

  7. Terri on December 25, 2017 at 7:45 am

    Becky, I so understand what you mean – about how you are feeling and also those feelings of trepidation of sharing this type of thing on your blog. Believe me, I get it. The first time I mentioned it years ago, my mom was worried that potential employers would find my posts and then not want to hire me. (Of course, that would be illegal.)

    I have found that when I talk about it though, people have generally been supportive and in fact, I’ve helped them to feel freer to talk about it.

    You might have SADD yes, and and what might help are some blue plant lights (I mention these as a cheaper alternative to one of the blue lights made for SADD.) At first I used them when I was in the northeast and they definitely did help.

    Thanks for saying that being nomadic wasn’t a magical cure-all because that is likely what most people would think.

    And the “attitude of gratitude” — I love that phrase, and like you, it takes work to cultivate but it is totally worth it.

    If you ever want to talk about the “D” word privately, you know how to reach me. Hugs and Merry Xmas, Becky!

  8. Damian Gillen on December 24, 2017 at 9:33 pm

    You are in my prayers tonight. God bless you & keep you safe. I enjoy your blog posts very much. Hope you have a Merry Christmas!

  9. Ed@Chasing Sunrises and Sunsets on December 24, 2017 at 4:29 pm

    Howdy Becky! Merry Christmas to you. Holy moly, the sheer number of comments on this subject should tell you that you’re not alone. Maybe the Big D is somewhat normal afterall. For me, depression is not a winter thing, but specifically a Christmas thing. Since we’ve been on the road, it has dramatically decreased but is still lingering a bit. Considering that it’s Christmas Eve as I write this, all is well. And that is saying a lot since we are 8 miles from downtown Los Angeles, one of my least favorite places. Let’s just say I’m being a good husband. 🙂 After New Year’s day, we’ll be in Quartzsite where I’ll be happy once again.
    Ed@Chasing Sunrises and Sunsets recently posted..Making a Beeline for OregonMy Profile

  10. Kurt on December 24, 2017 at 10:21 am

    A most timely post-Becky. Being an Introvert with mild SAD I’ve recently wondered how I’ll handle fulltime life on the road during this time of the year.I believe an attitude of gratitude is an important ingredient. Thanks for reminding me and sharing.

  11. Mike fryman on December 23, 2017 at 8:49 pm

    I messaged you on face book, but nice job of sharing!! We all have our journey, my wife and I hope to hit the road before we get to old!!!! Love reading your blog, be yourself be real!!! Frydad

  12. Loren on December 23, 2017 at 8:42 pm

    Thank you for this post! Your honesty is very much appreciated by those of us who know from personal experience that there is such a thing as “seasonal affective disorder.” In my forties, living in Minnesota, it got worse every winter. I dealt with it much as you seem to do – “handling” it on my own. Finally, I moved to Tucson, AZ, 13 years ago and that helped a lot. When you can be outside in the sun almost every day of the year – working in the yard and garden or hiking in beautiful parks – SAD is not an issue most days.

    I enjoy your writing and thank you for the inspiration you are to so many. Enjoy your time in the southwest again this year.

  13. Furry Gnome on December 23, 2017 at 5:41 pm

    Happy Holidays Becky! Your honesty and willingness to share is refreshing. I’m not sure anyone ever has no times feeling ‘down’, even though some won’t admit it. When I’m not feeling like much I tell myself that you need to have down times in order to have up times. Have a great winter!

  14. Linda Sand on December 23, 2017 at 4:52 pm

    This post felt like a warm hug and, for me, that’s the best treatment at this time of year. Thank you.

  15. Becky on December 23, 2017 at 2:02 pm

    As always, a good conversation everyone! Thank you for sharing your stories and being supportive. The more invisible illnesses like depression are talked about, the less taboo it becomes. I hope those of you who are in a low this holiday season find some relief. Take care all.

  16. secessus on December 23, 2017 at 10:25 am

    Talking to my doctor about lifelong depression was the HARDEST thing I have ever done, and it marked the beginning of my healing.

    In my case, talking about it eased the crushing feelings of shame, and a couple meds made a huge difference. At 50-something I feel like I am finally who I really am.

  17. Kathi Foy on December 23, 2017 at 10:04 am

    Thanks for sharing Becky. Ebbs and flows are part of life and the wisdom of knowing when to stand aside and allow life to happen is precious. I’m glad you have found a lifestyle that helps you manage. You are an inspiration to others who seek the same. I also appreciate your “my experience only” stance as brain chemistry is very tricky and Savvy mental healthcare helpers know to listen very carefully.

  18. Martha Goudey on December 23, 2017 at 9:49 am

    Thank you for this post Becky. Vulnerability is a beautiful thing because it touches others, and in this case obviously spoke to many people reading your blog…me included. I am in a blue funk after a year in the Casita and hanging out in Arizona during the winter. I am glad to be out of the extreme cold of the north, but being here didn’t fix me because I brought me with me.
    Thank you for the encouragement and acknowledgment of what is very real for so many of us.
    Martha Goudey recently posted..ModificationsMy Profile

  19. Jan Denney on December 23, 2017 at 9:11 am

    Becky, thank you for bravely sharing your story. Mine is similar with one exception. Funks happen to me on the sunny days. I feel every one else is enjoying themselves Andy I am not. Living in Texas means many days of sun, so, i fight the big D often. What helps me is being around folks and helping others. I, too, travel in my Casita, Zippydedodah, and love doing so. Meeting new people is also a help. I believe total happiness is an expectation, overrated by the western world. However, I do find contentment in my spirit when I stay focused on my relationship with God. Knowing that He knows me better than I know myself at He really is in control. I pray that as you continue your wonderful lifestyle that your depression become less with each passing day. Merry Christmas and may your 2018 be filled with joy and contentment.

  20. ann cabezas creed on December 23, 2017 at 9:07 am

    Hello Becky, Christmas is a season when many people feel depression–for different reasons- Just know that out there in your vast “wilderness” we are thinking of you. Keep your heart focused to the Star In the East..unto us today a child is born and his name shall be Emanuel, Prince of Peace.

  21. Norm H. on December 23, 2017 at 8:49 am

    As always, I appreciate your honesty about the realities of life, whether on the road or not. Merry Christmas to you. Love the Tucson area. Enjoy it for us.

  22. Jim on December 23, 2017 at 8:05 am

    I think one is better off in an RV for seasonal melancholy because one is likely in better weather and as a result not cooped up as much as in a stationary home. However, no matter how nice the weather is for nomads following the sun, there’s no getting around the short days and low sun angle. For everyone whether nomad or stationary, the long nights and cooler weather are like slush in RV water lines. It slows one down and makes one feel lethargic. I think the only thing one can do is suck it up and wait for spring. 🙂

    Look on the bright side. Starting now, the days are starting to get longer. Only about 4 weeks more until, take or give, the average temperature in most areas starts to get warmer. And my warm season favorite: Daylight Saving Time is only 11 weeks away! 🙂

  23. Carrie on December 23, 2017 at 7:56 am

    Thank you so much for sharing.
    Carrie recently posted..THERE ARE NOMy Profile

  24. Clare Sente on December 23, 2017 at 7:47 am

    I just enjoy your writing style Becky. I can always relate to your topics. I have dealt with SAD for 40+ years living in Chicago. I told my dad when we were teenagers, “Why can’t we live in CO?” We would go skiing there every winter while growing up and I craved the sun. But he replied, “You make your money in Chicago and travel wherever you want Clare.”

    Well, I just wanted to live where the sun made me feel better. I’ve been on antidepressants in my adult life during the winter and literally in a few hours after taking my first very low dose, I felt happy. I took them in the winter for 10 years & weaned off in the warm sunny months. I discovered sun “happy” lights, higher doses of Vitamin D, & once a month laying in a tanning bed for 8 minutes would all help me feel good enough to not need the antidepressants.

    I’m 55 and bought my Casita 2 weeks ago. I’ll head out to AZ this January by plane but plan to take 3 weeks off next January to take my Casita to AZ. Eventually, I hope to travel a few months out of the year in the Casita and escape the winter. Thank you for your wonderful posts. I look forward to them. Merry Christmas to you.
    Clare Sente recently posted..THERE ARE NOMy Profile

  25. Janet bickham on December 23, 2017 at 7:25 am

    Thank you for your honest remarks on this…so many of us deal with this year round and are more affected in the winter. Being 70 years old I have reconciled myself to it, and have learned to take care of myself. It does get easier with time, I guess I’ve learned to watch for the signs and act accordingly. Thanks again for your newsletter and thoughts, and a blessed new year to you! Janet

  26. jimmy on December 23, 2017 at 7:10 am

    vitamin D for the D as a women you need it for better bones with calcium anyway .
    for me it comes. and then they throw in a holiday that makes me feel that every thing i do is not enough,yes that time of year again.

  27. Theodora annie davis on December 23, 2017 at 6:52 am

    This is the saddest christmas i can recall. I live in MI too so can relate to bitter temps tryin to rob our joy!! Battled depression think its a chemical imbalance in our while family

    My hubby of nearly 27 yrs was told about 3 weeks ago he now has squamos cell carcinoma we were full-timers for about 14 yrs but been off the road about 10 yrs from ill family and now its us!!! Whodathunk!!! They want to amputate my husbands one arm and his shoulder the cancer is in the shoulder. Simehow Gids allowing him an evaluation at CTCA in zion IL on jan 8th. We are praying for a miracle. Melatonin for skeep and calms forte by Hylands (homeopathic) are my two “go to’s” and i best take one now!!

    Becky, try to be around people rite now
    Even just a cup of coffee in a cafe etcif you know anyone within driving distance just pop in to say hi!!!!

    God bless everyone this christmas season!!! I have decided to do family gatherings as close to the holiday as pissibke thats soi much a part of Christmas season otherwise you can feel sorry for yourself, like me!!! Merry Christmas!!!

    • Theodora annie davis on December 23, 2017 at 11:09 am

      Sorry for a couple grammatical errors i miss a real keyboard!!!

      Becky we were one week of going out west fir the winter and do our first boondocking but not this year. Now i live thru you and other people’s adventures and thank God you are still physically fut to enjoy it!!!
      Annie and terry in brrr Michigan

    • Becky on December 23, 2017 at 1:42 pm

      I’m very sorry to hear about your husband Annie. You’re in my thoughts and I hope Terry’s evaluation next month goes well. Take care, and merry Christmas.

      • Theodora annie davis on December 23, 2017 at 3:55 pm

        Thsnx so much becky praying your Christmas will be awesome!!!!

  28. Philip Roll on December 23, 2017 at 6:48 am

    Your comment about brain chemistry is right on. You are who you are and are the way you you are built. While drugs can help a lot, I prefer behavioral control as you are doing. It is much better if you can succeed. Some people who cannot control with behavior refuse to let drugs help them because of moral objections or the stigma. That’s a shame as depression is basically a chemistry problem in the brain and not some weakness of character. My opinion is that it is best to do the minimally invasive method that works. Sounds like you’re doing that. Congratulations. Coming forward is definitely the right thing to do if you can handle it. I believe many respect your opinions (I know I do) and this will help them.

  29. Anne S on December 23, 2017 at 6:35 am

    Becky, thanks for writing so sensitively about this topic, and about your approaches for dealing with it. Just naming it and seeing it for what it is (brain chemistry!) has been really helpful for me as well. Oddly enough, I never thought to connect the word “funk” to my episodes of feeling blue, so you have given me a gift. It’s such a good word. Merry Christmas to you, and a very bright New Year!

  30. Ed on December 23, 2017 at 6:32 am

    Merry Christmas and Happy New Year !

  31. Ray Mullen on December 23, 2017 at 6:25 am

    I love your honesty and courage to share. I think we’re all alike. Of course there are outliers, but in general we all share the same pluses and minuses.
    Thank you for shining a light and letting us see how alike we all are.

  32. MnDreamer on December 23, 2017 at 6:15 am

    Hi Becky-
    Once again you’ve given us something important to consider. The fact is, we all have something that is a struggle, and your honestly sharing yours, so we can see that you manage it with grace and don’t let it prevent you from making a good life for yourself is, well, it’s so you. You remind us that we can find “work-arounds” to pursue whatever dream we may have.Your words encourage us and also remind us to be kind, as we can’t know when someone we meet might be having a dark day.
    I hope your time in the sunshine helps to make the holidays happier— it’s been pretty cold and very gray up here in the North! I’m looking forward to being able to escape and follow the sun soon!

  33. Rodolfo Tenorio on December 23, 2017 at 5:49 am

    Isn’t it normal to feel less bubblicious in the winter not because you suffer from depression but just because sunny warm days are so much nicer than cold days. This is why people who retire tend to move to warmer sunnier places. Merry Christmas and a happy new year.

  34. MB Dillard on December 23, 2017 at 5:29 am

    Well said. And a Very Merry Christmas to you!

  35. Darren on December 23, 2017 at 4:20 am

    Hey Becky, Yep,,,I’m with you. I lived in Portales New Mexico for years, graduated school there, owned my own business and was a Firefighter/Paramedic numerous years there. Wind and dust all the time, weather is horrible there. There were countless days of 50 mph plus winds with dirt so bad you could not see across the roads. We made national news from tumble weeds blowing up to residents houses and blocking them in. I got where I hated everything, started having depression. With my medical background I knew I didn’t want to start medication so I fell back on the one thing that I always loved,,, camping and fishing. It would get me out of my mood for awhile but as soon as I got back I would hate life again. I finally sold my house and property bought a travel trailer and moved. That worked great for awhile until my parents health started failing and I had to move back and take care of them. I now just go fishing and camping when I can. I know how hard it is for some people because I have lived it and seen it through my career. I try to educate my patients that medication sometimes works but getting back to what has brought you happiness and helped get your mind and body back to basic’s is sometimes a better choice. It can be a struggle but seek help, there is nothing wrong with getting a helping hand. Thanks Becky for bringing this up and hopefully someone that has been having issue’s can maybe receive some useful information. Take care and safe roads!!

  36. Terry on December 22, 2017 at 8:25 pm

    Hey Becky good post as alway’s.I wish you a merry christmas & happy new year. Many happy trail’s in 2018.

  37. Pamela Campbell on December 22, 2017 at 7:49 pm

    Hugs to you, Becky. I have some of those issues and living in Michigan with so many sunless winter days could be a challenge. I like the full spectrum light bulbs. I know several friends and relatives with some issues with depression or ADHD or ADD. Seems to be more common these days.
    Happy Travels and thank you for sharing.
    Pamelab – in Lubbock and it’s cold today!

  38. Jodee Gravel on December 22, 2017 at 7:47 pm

    Facing the dragon head on and talking about it with others is brave and likely helpful for others with similar issues, especially this time of year. Traveling solo must have unique challenges – hugs to you!!
    Jodee Gravel recently posted..Maintaining BalanceMy Profile

  39. Kelly Beasley on December 22, 2017 at 7:05 pm

    I had a lot of depression in my life, and I’m happy to report I haven’t been depressed in the 2+ years I’ve been on the road. I wish it could have been the same for you. For me, it wasn’t seasonal. It was ANY time, and a lot of the time. I connect and thank a nomadic lifestyle for my healing. But yes, all we are is a bunch of chemicals. That is SO weird. I heard my mom wailing in her sleep last night, and thought about the chemicals thing again after hearing her horrifying sounding cry. SO WEIRD. Hope this season is kind to you, Becks!
    Kelly Beasley recently posted..How To Find The (mostly) Perfect RV Type For Your NeedsMy Profile

  40. A.S. on December 22, 2017 at 6:50 pm

    Reverse SAD

    Just want to talk about an even more taboo subject – reverse SAD. I knew I always got depressed in the summer and was fine in the winter, but I always just struggled along because most people don’t understand or want to believe summer could be linked to depression.

    Then a couple of years ago I happened to stumble on a study where they discovered most people with reverse SAD actually have depression that is triggered by heat. I’ve discovered that staying indoors, drinking lots of ice water, and being careful not to over do my time outdoors really helps. Wish I’d known that about forty years earlier!!

    Sending you a hug from somebody who suffers from seasonal depression as well!

  41. Barney Ward on December 22, 2017 at 6:16 pm

    I am in the depression at times group. In one way I am lucky because I figured out the main cause and fix for it. Not enough sunshine and wham i am splattered like loose mashed potatoes. then get enough sunshine and I am ready to romp. Winter is of course the worst so I have to work hard at getting enough sunshine in the winter. You are not alone in your depression and it definitely is not something that you are the cause of. And yes it is very powerful when it hits. So keep on fighting it back. It is worth the fight.

  42. Michael on December 22, 2017 at 5:20 pm

    Opening a door into what we all experience to some degree allows an understanding that we aren’t alone in what and how we feel. I would encourage folks to consider kindness in their dealings with others who may be having the same kind of day they are. It has helped me in more ways than I can count. Happy New Year everyone!

  43. Elisa on December 22, 2017 at 5:03 pm

    Merry Christmas, Becky. Looking forward to “traveling” with you in 2018.

  44. Bob on December 22, 2017 at 4:32 pm

    2 Thumps Up!

  45. Rob on December 22, 2017 at 4:31 pm

    A post on a different blog got me thinking about depression and cures, the other day.
    I had to look it up before I said anything but I had remembered correctly, They have had good luck with psilocybin mushrooms for treating depression.
    Just saying.

    Merry Christmas!

  46. Ron on December 22, 2017 at 3:51 pm

    A really good post and thank you for having the courage to share it. I believe many more people then we are aware of have similar issues.
    There is much to see and do in the Tucson area and the desert is beautiful there. There is even a downhill ski area nearby if you can imagine that. Mt Lemon I think. We wish you a Merry Christmas and a really Great New Year.

  47. Susan Jessup on December 22, 2017 at 3:40 pm

    I understand perfectly. I do take a small dose of anti-depressant that helps somewhat but I still have to self-manage and recognize my funks for what they are – temporary. And try to avoid winter which I have managed to do for 8 years wintering in Mexico. This winter so far, for various reasons, I have been in Canada but I know I have to get back south in January until April.