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January 5, 2016 / Rae Spencer

Sleep, eat, read… blog

Yard December 30

When I didn’t put together a blog post in late October, I resolved to make up for it in November. After November passed without a post, I planned something for December. And when January loomed with the blog still silent, I finally admitted that I had been neglecting more than the blog. I wasn’t procrastinating. I was depressed. Again.

Yard December 30

My inertia started with procrastination, but, as the days grew shorter and shorter, depression took over. In retrospect, I knew this all along. I tried to ignore the symptoms, but in mid-October I had quit doing most of the things I enjoy. The blog was just my most public absence.

Flowers Nov 9

By November, the yard and I were weather-worn and brittle.

Flowers Nov 9

Flowers Nov 9

Off and on in November I picked up my camera, took a few photos, and thought vaguely of how I would describe them in a blog post. Each time I decided to pay bills or clean out the closet instead. (More often than not, I then decided to put off the bills and the closet, too.) So this photo of spider eggs never posted:

Eggs November 24

Nor this exquisite moth:

Moth Sept 17

I woke briefly in mid-November, when the Yellow-rumped Warblers arrived, but soon drifted back into my sleep-eat-read-sleep routine.

Warbler Nov 16

Squirrel Nov 9

Rabbit Nov 9

As December counted down, I told myself lies about how busy I was with holiday preparations.

Ornaments Dec 26 2015

I told others these lies, too, because they were easier than admitting to everyone that the holidays made me feel sad and lonely. That, despite my love for festive decorations, much of my nostalgia is tinged with grief.

Ornaments Dec 26 2015

During my lost months, I watched flocks of birds gather and move on, feeling each time as if I had missed an important message.

Flock Nov 20

Birds Nov 9

Crow Nov 9

Then, one bright and unseasonably warm afternoon, a pair of vultures paused over the yard, basking in the sun. These beautiful, under-appreciated birds sent me scrambling for my camera, something I had not done in weeks.

Vulture Dec 10

Vulture Dec 10

Vulture Dec 10

And on Christmas Eve, despite dreary clouds and a threat of storms, I enjoyed an afternoon in the yard with my camera.

Starling Dec 24

This time I felt closer to getting the message.

Birds Dec 24

In the after-Christmas lull, I slept and ate and read and slept, but there was a spark of something different in the routine. A current of ambition to do more than sleep and eat and read. As I put away our decorations, I noticed a pot of pansies that I had never planted. And all the empty bird feeders.

Muscovy Jan 3

On the first Sunday of 2016, I took a walk with my old camera. As I photographed ducks and geese and seagulls, my internal dialogue became a patter of possible captions for the photos. That evening I edited the images with extra care, eager to post them. But I couldn’t decide how to post them. The blog had been silent for so long. Now that I was ready to post again, how should I explain my absence? Should I simply resume posting? Gloss over two months fogged by recurring depression?

Merganser Jan 3

If I tried to explain, would I be able to describe depression without being depressing? (I don’t believe I’ve succeeded, but I decided to post this anyway. Too many people avoid talking about depression for too many reasons, which makes it that much lonelier.)

Heron Jan 3

I’ve lived with depression (and its frequent companion–anxiety) for a very long time. Longer than I’ll usually admit. Compared to past experience, this bout was mild and short-lived. Now I’m making changes that should help speed my recovery. Over the weekend I stocked the kitchen with healthier food, started exercising, and spent more time outside with my camera. These are, I’ve learned, my best defenses.

Seagull Jan 3

So as January progresses, along with a more mindful schedule of sleeping and eating and reading, I’ll be walking and writing and blogging. (And renewing my efforts to learn meditation. More on this later.)

Mallard Jan 3

And as the days get longer and longer, I’ll start looking forward to spring. Because spring will come. It always does.

Mallard Jan 3

13 Comments

  1. RobK / Jan 5 2016 8:09 PM

    Thank you for sharing. I can relate. Hope to see more blogs soon.

  2. jeanryan1 / Jan 5 2016 8:09 PM

    Brave and lovely. Thank you for sharing your feelings, which we can all relate to, and your extraordinary photos. 💞

    • Rae Spencer / Jan 6 2016 1:56 PM

      Thank you! (I love the hearts. I need to add “learn how to do emojis” to my list…)

  3. vision791 / Jan 5 2016 10:55 PM

    Rae,

    I love that you did this. I have family members that suffer with depression and anxiety. This was done well. I hope you have an easy winter and look forward to the spring.

    • Rae Spencer / Jan 6 2016 1:53 PM

      Thank you! The winter is getting easier, and spring isn’t too far away. 🙂

  4. Sharon Poch / Jan 6 2016 5:12 AM

    Know I was with you . . .

  5. katallen49@gmail.com / Jan 6 2016 10:18 AM

    Dear Rae, Thanks much for sharing your experience with depression. I have very similar winter blues. Perhaps we are simply hibernating in a human way. The lengthening daylight awakens me to life annually. Again, thank you.

    Sent from my iPad

    >

    • Rae Spencer / Jan 6 2016 1:51 PM

      Thank you for commenting! I’m convinced that the more we talk about depression, the less lonely it will feel. And, for me, loneliness is a big factor.

  6. jeanryan1 / Jan 6 2016 2:14 PM

    Emojis are fun, the benefit of posting via phone or tablet.

  7. Life Along The River / Jan 8 2016 11:43 AM

    Beautiful post and amazing pictures. Thanks for not glossing over the depression. Often feel the same about the holidays and the winter blues

  8. Trileigh / Jan 11 2016 10:38 AM

    This is one of my favorite of your posts, Rae. I can so empathize (my own blog has been latent since July.) You’ve written about this feeling so eloquently and evocatively – thank you. You’ve inspired me to get back to it all.

    • Rae Spencer / Jan 27 2016 12:48 PM

      I’m looking forward to your next post! 🙂

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