My husband and I were walking our dogs yesterday and spotted the spring flowers finally emerging from the ground. The birds were singing, the air was warmer and the night was so much lighter. I can’t lie, my heart sang. This winter has felt like the longest ever and we weren’t even in lockdown this time.
I’ve been thinking about why I have found this winter so difficult this year. I do wonder if the strain we have all gone through these last fews years has been part of it. Usually, no matter what the time of year or weather, I can’t stand being in the house for long periods of time. This year, I have avoided going out. I have become more and more comfortable with the idea of just staying in. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but I have gone from one extreme to another.
I think it has been a mixture of getting used to staying in because of the lockdowns and also the change of lifestyle has made me happier in my own home. But it is still something that I realise I need to keep an eye on. When I realised that I had stopped wanting to do things that I had previously enjoyed like walking the dogs. I knew that I was now in a rut.
The terrible weather and the dark dreary nights and mornings all created a perfect excuse to stay in. The more I stayed in, the more used to it I got. Until I realised that actually, I think I am getting depressed.
I think some of my issues were that in previous winters we had spent weekends in the pub, the atmospere and the log fires were really inviting. The social aspect was something that we enjoyed. I had started avoiding places with alcohol. I was tired of explaining why I no longer drink alcohol. And I actually don’t like being around people who have been drinking. I feel like I am walking on eggshells (totally hypocrtical I know!).
I hadn’t replaced the pub habit with anything else really. Well I had with regards to sober meetings and sober reading etc. But everything revolved around my house and it was to my detrement.
It all came to a head when my husband finally pointed out that I was avoiding anything to do with socialing or going out. Not everything needed to revolve around alcohol, but I couldn’t hide myself away forever. I was preaching about all of the changes I had made, yet I wasn’t being honest that I was struggling.
Sometimes, finally admitting you are struggling can be enough to help you make the changed that can help yourself. My husand and I had a long talk. I told him that I was worried I was boring, I was worried that I just didn’t want to go out and I worried that I would always feel this way. This was the start of me feeling better..
I started walking again, forcing myself out of the house. Even if I didn’t feel like it. I have started accepting invitations to see people again and I have actually enjoyed it! At the beginning of my sobriety, I had taken up swimming and got a lot out of it. Once winter arrived and along with that the dark, I stopped. I have started again. The me time and the exercise is invaluable.
When I saw the flowers in the photograph above on my walk, I had a sudden sense of optimism. The more I have started walking again, be it by the water or in the forest the more my mood has risen. I have started getting wrapped up and relaxing on my swing seat in the garden. I love the sound of the birds, every year we have the same bossy blackbird that shouts at us everytime we enter our garden, right up until his babies flee the nest. I was pleased to see he is back.
The main reason for this blog today, is to say that my mental health has been a struggle of late. But instead of reaching for a glass of wine (which I have thought of, I can’t say I haven’t) I have talked about it and I have looked at ways I can help myself.
I plan on carrying on as I am, with my sober spring. Enjoying the outdoors, enjoying the lighter evenings and enjoying my friends. All without alcohol.