I disagree with T.S. Eliot; January is the cruellest month. Taking down the holiday decorations is itself depressing. Add in 31 short days and long, dark nights, ice and gray, and for me it’s a recipe for disaster. I find it difficult to get outside in nature during January, whether due to the weather (I live in the Northeast) or my own lack of motivation (I experience seasonal affective disorder). With no vacation days usually taken in January because I’m still catching up on days of missed work in December, there isn’t much to look forward to. Well, besides February, with its 28 days and promise of the approaching end of winter, not to mention Valentine’s Day chocolates. February is brutal but short. I can handle February because it turns into March.
In March, I start to come back to life. Little things like a bud on a tree give me hope and remind me nothing is permanent, not even the cold and darkness of winter, which feels so permanent in January.
But that effing month of January nearly destroys me most years.
BUT! During last night’s therapy session, I realized this January may be different, and I feel hopeful now. I’ve made goals, not quite resolutions. And one thing I learned during my postpartum depression is that goals can reignite your passion, and that changes your life for the better. Always.
So what am I up to in January?
The Building Balance Skills Group
I signed up for a 12-week mindfulness group (class?), hosted by my therapist. The group setting makes me feel a little vulnerable. But I’m convinced that a little vulnerability will be good for me. The group is called “The Building Balance Skills Group” and it’s described in this way:
A 12 Week Group for Women Designed to Help Restore and Maintain the Balance in Your Life
Balance. Who couldn’t use more of that? The group will also cover distress tolerance, emotion regulation, and interpersonal effectiveness–all skills I’ve learned in therapy already, but skills I need to keep in the front of my brain for regular use because of how much they’ve helped me already.
Warrior Mom Leadership Team
In early January, you’ll find me at Postpartum Progress as part of the Warrior Mom Leadership Team. Katherine Stone has described us as:
a group of survivors and bloggers who have been dedicated over the years to raising awareness of postpartum depression and all other perinatal mood and anxiety disorders
So flattering. So scary! Again with the vulnerability! I’m sensing a theme for my January, possibly for my 2014. I’ve been writing notes for about a month now in preparation for my week of blogging at Postpartum Progress. I plan to write about my experience as a full-time working mother with postpartum anxiety. The implications of publicly discussing how I handled my career while struggling with a mood disorder scare the hell out of me, but I’m going to do it anyway.
And the third experience I’m opening myself up to in January is another attempt at yoga. It’s been several years since I tried it (and hated it). Yoga has been this thing I’ve always wanted to love but never could, despite trying it again every few years. I could probably write a list of 100 reasons why I need yoga in my life. And then I could write 50 reasons why I don’t like it. Maybe I will do that in a future post! But a yoga place opened up a block from my house right after I was reconsidering yoga, and then I got an email about a Living Social deal that I think is the Universe’s way of screaming at me, “Jaime, just take the freaking yoga classes!”
So I’m going to commit to the 5 classes (for $27!!) and see what happens. If I hate it again, I’m letting myself off the hook. But I think this time I’m going to really give it my all and try to allow myself to be vulnerable (physically and emotionally) in order to become stronger.
It’s going to be a very busy January. But I don’t mind busy. And this is a new kind of busy for me–all three of these things fall within the realm of self-care. After the fall and winter I’ve had so far, I could use a month or two of what is for me “extreme self-care.” No guilt. :)
What’s in store for you in the new year?