Struggling Through Winter

I have struggled, emotionally, this winter. I am not whining, I am not maudlin, I am not anything other than appearing normal on the outside. Inside my brain, my heart and my being has been in overdrive.

From the outside, everything looks fine. I exercise, I eat (well some), I talk nice to others and I feel compassionate and kind. Inside, I am confused, alone and worried that there might really be something wrong with me.

Three months before Jim died, my counselor strongly urged me to try antidepressants. After three and half years of the whirlwind of cancer for both Jim and myself, she and the psychiatrist who recommended the medicine felt that I was emotionally overloaded and depressed. Well, you think? I agreed to try an antidepressant to help get me through a difficult time. The dose started low but we had to adjust it upwards until I reached a dose that was acceptable for me. I come from a buck it up,  grin and bear it kind of family. Weakness is not in our thought process. It took a bit of encouragement to try the medicine.

Five years later I began to talk to the psychiatrist about coming off of the medicine. I mean how do I know that I really need it now that five years has gone by and I am much more together than right after Jim died? How do I know? Last June I began a slow weaning protocol. I did well until September and then I had to go back up on the dose a little. I remained there until I arrived back in San Diego.

Fall and winter are not my best times. I don’t like the shorter sunlit days, and I fight against coming inward and looking around in those quiet and sometimes shadow sides of myself. Winter is a classic time of being inward. I am glad I am at the beach because that has helped with this unguided annual review. Unguided means that I don’t actively seek out the coming within, it just seems to occur.

Did you know that depression is cyclical? I learned this from the psychiatrist. When people come off antidepressants, if a person is in an upswing they usually do well initially until depression once again raises it’s cyclical self. When I tried to take the final plunge to remove the medicine from my body I was in a more depressive cycle so I knew right away that this wasn’t good. My acupuncturist, Gayle, also relayed to me that she does not recommend for a person to come off these types of medicine as we roll into fall and winter.

So here I am, somewhat disappointed in myself that I could not take the final step to stop this medicine. I know it is not a sign of failure but it kind of feels that way, just a little bit.

Depression is nothing to take lightly. I have known others in my life who battle it in a way more severe form than what I am dealing with. It is easy to tell someone to get over it or deal with it or be positive, yet for those dealing with depression, these kinds of statements are painful and unsupportive. What would be a much better response, I think, is to say I am sorry you are going through this, what can I do to help? Or even better call them once in a while just to talk. Or even better, invite them to dinner, go to a movie, guide them gently in a different direction. No one wants to be sad or lonely or depressed.

Day at the tidepools-4

My therapist has given me some assignments. So I am trying these while I wait for spring and the longer happier days of that time of the year.

  • Set up a phone date once a week with someone I love and know loves and supports me.
  • Read up on the “Stages of Life”. I guess when you reach my age it is not unusual to review all of your life thus far and try to figure out what comes next.
  • Take my passion and do something with it. I have already been working on this with my photography and creating my web site.
  • Each month pick one thing that brings happiness or contentment into my life. Last month I started a photo a day project. It not only fuels my artistic side but it also gets me outside. this month, I am attempting to finally sit in meditation for five minutes a day.
  • Look for groups that have common interest and join in.
  • The worse thing I can do is to hole up. Each day I try to get out to walk, bike-be in nature. I do it alone and with others.
  • I have also decided to start a journal and write one thing I am grateful for every day.

This is just a sample yet I believe you get the idea.

As I write this Miss Elsie the Cat and I are in Idyllwild, CA visiting a good friend, Mary. This has been the best thing I could have done. I have been able to casually visit with Mary over the past few days. I am out and away and in the mountains. Each day I have been here I have felt better, emotionally. Mary and I are embracing each other’s company, sharing our woes and all our good and interesting times since we last saw each other. It is a marvelous catharsis for us both.

It is hard to admit this type of stuff to yourself. It is hard to admit it to the broader world. I have sat on this post for over a week, wondering if I should reveal this much of myself to the rest of the unknown world. I reviewed some of my other posts and some of them have been just as raw and revealing. Why hesitate here. I believe that depression has a stigma that surrounds it. What if I admit that I am not strong. Well everyone is suppose to be strong all the time, right? Well guess what?  That is not true.

I see this as a continuing part of who I am and dealing with grief. This too shall pass. Maybe, just maybe by sharing this someone else may not feel alone or the odd person out. Well here is a fact so no one has to feel alone, over 350 million people in the world suffer from some form of depression.

I continue to embrace each day with as much fervor as I can muster. Some days that is easy and some days my embrace is just on a tinier scale.  And…I keep telling myself, spring is coming, it is just around the corner.




An Idaho Summer


My Idaho summer is coming to a close. Summer in a home surrounded by water and mountains, what more could I ask for? I knew very little about this state before I arrived. Although I have only explored a small section of a rather large state, I now know it is a place I will return to again.

I have relished my stationary time. I was able to nest and relax. I did not feel like I needed to be on the go every minute. There were many benefits to being here. An outstanding benefit-getting to know Linda better,strengthening our friendship and enjoying her company. It was delightful.

I became part of a community, if only for a short time. It doesn’t take long in a small town for the major players to take notice of a new person. The post office in Donnelly, by the time I left, knew me by name. They also told me they would see me next summer.😁 I have enjoyed becoming part of  a community even it was temporary.


Elsie bathing in the late Afternoon Sun

Elsie also enjoyed the larger digs. I think she was glad to be left behind to nap at will. She enjoyed having space to run. It was hard for me to have to move her again. It was me being emotional, she really hasn’t seemed to mind.

We are in Boise this week. I am, once again, house sitting for Misty the Invisible Cat. When Linda asked me if I could help them out while they are off on vacation, how could I say no? They gave me their second home without hesitation. This is what friends do for friends.

I am, temporarily,  going to become an advertisement for Idaho as I create one of my list about why Idaho is truly the “Gem State”.

  • It is called the “Gem State”, because nearly every known type of gemstone has been found in the state of Idaho. More than 72 different precious and semi-precious gemstones are mined from Idaho.
  • Idaho’s state seal is the only one in the U.S. designed by a woman. In 1890, Emma Edwards Green submitted the design for the State Seal competition sponsored by the First Legislature for the State of Idaho.
  • The drivers give wide berth to bicyclists. As a cyclist,  I noticed this again and again. It is greatly appreciated.
  • The lakes are beautiful and become warm enough in the summer to swim in. I really appreciate this, as I grew up on a lake in northern NJ and love swimming in fresh water.

Cascade Lake

  • Outdoor activity is everywhere. Hiking? Yep. Biking? Yep. There are a lot of off the road bike paths, that are well maintained. I didn’t have to worry as much about traffic. Kayaking or Paddle Boarding? Yep.
  • Summer is full of special events. I spent one three-day weekend at the Roseberry annual Music Festival. There were three nights of great music. It was very much a family affair. Young children ran among the adults. I brought my folding chair, set it in place and wandered. The entertainment included local and nationally known bands. fullsizeoutput_80a9It was a great way to spend the weekend. The person who was in charge of parking gave me my favorite spot every night. Small towns are fun that way.
  • Wildlife abounds. I enjoyed all of it. The Sandhill Cranes called to me several times, early in the morning hours. I loved the fox that lived over near Roseberry and am happy that I got to take photos of her.


  • There were reminders that I was in the west. A favorite of my time here, was the day my friends and I came upon a herd of sheep, being herded by sheepdogs and people to the high country for the summer.
  • I looked forward to the drive across Cascade Lake every time I needed to go somewhere.
  • There were so many nicely graded dirt roads to venture off on.
  • Wildflowers abound. When one season is done the next one is coming into full bloom. Beautiful, just beautiful.
  • Have I mentioned the people? Everyone was welcoming. I could always find someone to aid me when I needed it. I walked into a dentist office, in McCall, and asked if I could make an appointment for a dental cleaning. No problem. They didn’t need x-rays, they didn’t contact my dentist they just got me in.
  • Water abounds. Lakes, rivers, streams, waterfalls and all were running wild and well above normal this past spring.

    Sawtooth Mts & Stanley Lake

    I love water.

  • Idaho is home to beautiful mountain ranges. I loved the short time I spent at the edges of the Sawtooth Wilderness. It was stunning.
  • Boise is known for it’s Greenbelt. It was off-limits to me this spring (too much water) yet now I am able to get out and bike distance with little interference. It rides along the Boise River where a late summer past time appears to be floating the river in rafts and inner tubes.

I will treasure my Idaho summer for a long time to come. It has given me time to be introspective, have fun out there in the wilds and be reminded of the importance of community.

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Next stop, Oregon and the Eclipse.