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Monday, January 24, 2011

Why am I so Blue?

Brrrr!!! It sure is cold!  Temperatures are in the single digits and with the wind chill it is 20-30 degrees below zero in some areas, it is not fit for man or beast out there. Winter, it is a time of year when days are short, people venture out only if they have to, and depression can really take control of your life.  If you are grieving this time of year only compounds what you are going through.

Shortly after Rachel's death, I sought medical advice.  I was achy all over, everything just hurt so much; depression was the diagnosis.  At first I refused medication, but finally relented when I really couldn't take the pain anymore.  I was given some mild anti-depressants and eventually some sleeping pills to help me get much needed rest.  I have to admit, I really hate taking any kind of medication, waiting to the very last minute to take anything for a headache; but this was so different than anything I had ever dealt with before.  So I agreed, taking it only for the first year.

Rachel died in September and of course we headed into the winter months shortly after.  I remember how I longed to be outdoors, I wanted the sunshine and would take long walks when the weather permitted.  Eventually the weather won out and I couldn't get out and I remember how so much heavier my burden seemed.  My counselor recommended getting away, I am fortunate to have my mom living in Florida and I was able to escape the winter dole drums for a while.  It was truly amazing how much difference a little sunshine could make in my life.  

Not everyone can get away unfortunately, but there are ways to beat the winter blues. According to, in an article by Nicole Nichols, there are '10 Cool Ways to Beat the Winter Blues.'  The advice here and on other sites can apply to those who are grieving as well.
  1. Exercise - Helps your mind by releasing those 'feel good chemicals' that improve your mood.
  2. Eat a Healthy Diet - Healthy foods provide your body and mind with nutrients, stabilizing your blood sugar and upping your energy levels.
  3. Get Some Sun - Try to get some sunshine during the day, leave the shades up in your home; try changing your light bulbs to 'full spectrum' bulbs, they mimic natural light and have the same affects on your mind as the real thing.
  4. Act on your Resolutions - individuals who exhibited healthy behaviors had less sad and depressed days.
  5. Avoid Binge Drinking - Alcohol is a depressant, and rather than improving your mood it only makes it worse.  (Binge drinking is having 5 or more drinks in one sitting).
  6. Treat Yourself - Plan something that is exciting to you - a weekend trip, a day at the spa, a party, girls or guys night out, etc.  Having something to look forward to can keep anyone motivated.
  7. Relax!  Try to spend some time doing nothing.  Read a book or magazine, sleep in on the weekend, go to bed early, try some meditation or take a yoga class.
  8. Embrace the Season - Take up a winter activity, staying active will boost your energy. 
  9. Get Social Support - Don't underestimate the power of friends, family, mentors, co-workers, and neighbors.  
  10. Catch some Zzzz's - Aim for 7-8 hours each night, and try to keep your bedtime and waking time consistent.  Don't forget naps!  A short (10-30 minutes) afternoon nap may be all you need to re-energize midday. 
These are just a few ideas that may help during these cold, dark days.  There are many more articles with great advice,  Top Ten Tips to Beat the Winter Blues by Petrene Soames; Five Ways to Beat The Winter Blues by Sabah Karimi; and NY Daily News - How to Beat the Winter Blues by Jennifer Angel.  

Finding ways to cope is not always easy, but understanding that what is happening to you is normal really helps.  It may not necessarily give you a clear perspective at the moment, but at least lets you know you are not alone.  Also, understanding that the seasons impact our moods,  we can help ourselves by finding ways to 'lighten up.'  Just like our attitudes, our moods can also be managed.  I took long walks, I sat by the water's edge, and when I could finally focus again, I read.  I began to learn to find ways of coping and easing my mind as well; and in time, I was able to wean myself off the anti-depressants and sleeping pills with the help of my doctor.  

It can be very easy to wallow in self-pity, thinking that nothing in the world can ever make us feel better.  It's okay for a little while, but we do have to shake ourselves off, and face the world.  Trust me, I had my 'woe is me'  and "why me' time after Rachel's death, but in time I began to realize that I was not alone, that others had also been there and back.  Finding great support is a HUGE plus.  If you are having a difficult time, find yourself becoming a hermit, reach out to others.  Find someone who will allow you to vent, to simply sit with you and allow you to talk, cry or just be there with you.  Heck, get a couple of support systems.  Find yourself a 'bunch' of supporters, that way you know you have at least a few people you can call, have a cup of coffee with, or just spend some time with, if the going gets a little tough.  Also by having a few people you can call, you will not feel that you are becoming a burden to anyone of them.  

I have been blessed with a few such angels in my life, who I can call, who will let me ramble on or just sit quietly with me.  I also did go to counseling and joined a support group.  You will need to find what is best for you, what will work, remember only YOU know how you feel.  Take care of yourself, and when necessary let others take care of you too.  Above all know that you are not alone, you have so many people who love and need you.  I always think of Rachel and my dad and know that they would only want the best for me.  They want me to be happy, to live my life, and to live each day to its fullest, enjoying the 'present' that is each and every day.

Live each day!  Laugh often! Love always!  And remember your loved one is right there by your side and they are always in your heart.

Blessings! and until we meet again.


  1. Great advice Rose Mary and great post, as always.

    I just know in my heart how very proud of you Rachel is.

    Looking forward to hearing about some more of your lovely memories of Rachel this year

    Much luv, Carole xxxx

  2. I read what you say, and you give me hope..I miss my Mother so much now, 8 months & 24 days...I hope she is with my Brother, who was brutally taken from us 35 years ago this September at the tender age of 22yrs old. My Mind and heart ache, but you give me hope that I will be okay someday. Thank-You Rose Mary...

  3. Carole, thank you!

    Jade, hope is a beautiful and powerful gift, one that carries us beyond our pain, beyond ourselves, giving us something to hold on to when all else seems impossible. I am sure your Mom and Brother are together, and I know in my heart that they are watching over you, keeping you safe. Listen with your heart and you will know they are near. Remember that love never fails, it remains with us always...

    Carole & Jade, Sending hugs your way,
    Love Rose Mary

  4. Rose Mary it is certainly good to have coping strategies and great to find someone such as yourself to lead us in that direction.
    Somehow I feel my grief has been, and continues to be, overshadowed by my illness.
    Definitely agree with you about the cold weather and its affect on our moods.
    Remembering Rachel and hugs to you.

  5. Such great advice. Ironically, I have broken up with all my past boyfriends between January and March! I always get so down & make irrational decisions (which I now see as rational, since I am with someone now who has made it through 2 winters with me! woo hoo!).

    Losing my mom in December '07 made for a very long winter for me. Luckily, this year I was able to go to Belize, and I can see the difference that two weeks of sun has made on my health. While I was there I also sped right through a few books while I lounged around-- it was AMAZING. I felt so relaxed. A friend and I are also going to start working out this week again; I feel best about myself when I am exercising a few days a week. I'm refusing to let this winter give me the blues like it has in the past! :-)

  6. Chez, we somehow find what helps us cope and each of us is so very different. I have learned to borrow this and that to help me make sense of it all and to cope. You have had and continue to have so much on your plate, but you are an inspiration too so many and most especially to me. Your positive attitude and all that goes with it, makes all the difference in the world. Jeremy is with you always, keeping you strong.

    Take care, warm hugs, Love Rose Mary

  7. Sami,

    Good for you, it is important to find someone in our life that not only understands us, but is willing to grow with us as well, taking the good and the bad along with it, and making it better.

    And yes, just getting much needed sunlight can really lift your spirits. I have also started a 'zumba' class, and I agree, the exercise has done a lot for me physically and mentally.

    Take care of yourself, be good to YOU,
    Love, Rose Mary

  8. I love zumba! I was taking 3 classes a week over the summer! They are so much fun. Where I live we have a lottt of snow, so getting up at 4:30am to shovel my car out of my driveway to be at the 5:30am class just isn't happening now. Instead I've found some videos online instead and set up a gym in my basement :-)

    Enjoy your day Rose Mary!

  9. Sami, I just start taking the zumba classes, I love to dance and these classes are perfect. I agree with you, getting up that early, compounded with snowy weather, not a good mix.

    Where did you find the videos?

    Take care, hugs, Rose Mary