From the pages of
The Sublette County Journal
Volume 4, Number 24 - 2/10/00
brought to you online by Pinedale Online

The February Blues

Since I started writing this column, I have received many gracious compliments on my writing and the choice of topics that I have covered from the readers of this newspaper. It is really a privilege to be able to communicate one's personal thoughts and feelings with a broad audience and I feel an obligation to write worthwhile material.

However, this last couple of weeks, I have had a dry spell in regard to writing. My time these last couple weeks have been filled with meetings, job stress, business projects, visitors, and children and constant activity. I thought I just didn't have time to think about anything else like writing and I did catch a break last week when my editor had a guest column submitted just before deadline and bailed me out.

This morning it finally hit me what this lack of ideas was caused from. For me, the time of year between mid-January to mid-March brings on the "blues". Winter really starts after Thanksgiving and by February, it has been long, gray and filled with too much attention to everything and everyone else and not enough care to my own well-being. This down time hits me every year, no matter what my personal or professional situation and even came on in the years my daughters were born, both in February. I usually am tuned in enough to prepare for it and can ride it out without too much interference in my day to day existence, but this winter I didn't pay attention and it caught me flat-footed.

I have friends who experience this same down time and most are somewhat aware of it and do the best they can to get through it. One friend makes a great effort to eat better, rest more and do things for herself. Another takes a day and stays in bed with a good book and good food. These women work through it and by March, most of their feelings have rebounded and they are back on track. When one mentioned that she was heading into her "blues", I understood completely and was glad that she realized what was going on. I didn't take the clue to heart.

Many people will probably think that this is an insignificant and silly subject to discuss and that an attitude adjustment is all I need. I used to believe that too and tried to "snap out of it". But the "blues" are a very real type of depression and are not cured by sheer will. They are dealt with by a series of actions, the first of which is recognizing the symptoms and the second being the realization that you are not insane. It is not always easy to tell if someone is "blue" or depressed. They may have developed coping skills and ways of putting on a positive face for the outside world when they are really sinking like a rock on the inside.

Though I am by no means a professional therapist or expert in mental disorders, I have had personal life experience with not only my annual "blues", but with family members who have suffered from clinical depression. It is very real, terrifying and confusing for the person who suffers from the disease and maybe even more so for those who are helpless witnesses to their loved one's pain. Depression does not select only the weak or feeble; it lays low the strongest of men and the healthiest of women. It can run in families so even children can become affected by it.

There are many people walking around with one type of depression or another who just don't realize it. We live in a harsh environment and in relative isolation and that coupled with any stress can take someone down in a short time. Wyoming has one of the highest rates of suicide in the nation and if we aren't watchful, someone we love can easily fall into the desperation that leads to self-destruction. Having depression is certainly nothing to be ashamed of and if we begin to feel that everything in our life is just too much to handle, talking to someone about what is happening to us may end up becoming our lifeline, literally.

Now that I know and remember what is happening to me, I will be okay. Writing about it has helped a little, just like talking about it will. And hopefully, someone, man or woman or child that may be reading this who has these "down" feelings will recognize them for what they are and be willing and able to get some help. If you know someone who may be in the slump of the "blues" or depression, do what is necessary to get them that assistance. It may or may not be relieved with time, but it can be treated in the interim.

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Copyright © 1999 The Sublette County Journal
All rights reserved. Reproduction by any means must have permission of the Publisher.
The Sublette County Journal, PO Box 3010, Pinedale, WY 82941   Phone 307-367-3713
Publisher/Editor: Rob Shaul