Winter ‘blah’ and ways to banish it

Winter 'blah'

Winter ‘blah’ seems to attack me every year. Each time, it catches me unawares and sends me into a spin until I work out what’s happening. Sometimes, I catch it early, but not this year. July 2022 treated many of my family to COVID-19 in one or other of its variations.

My son and daughter-in-law. My brother. John’s granddaughter. Renee’s partner. Several dear friends. I worry about them and like everone else, wish this would pass.

July never feels comfortable because within a space of three weeks I commemorate the lives and deaths of two of my baby boys. They died a very long time ago. Paul lived only a few hours, and Patrick died of what was then called Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. He was thirteen weeks old.

You’d think the memories and grief would have abated after all that time. But for these three weeks every year, I am melancholy. I secretly hate that people landed on the moon while I waited for a funeral to begin.

Somehow, recognising that I’m in my eighty-fifth year, and will soon be officially ‘old-old’, got into the mix of misery I’d concocted.

Yesterday seemed to be the climax to this year’s winter ‘blah’. I walked in the rain to the nursery nearby to buy a bright yellow calanchoe to brighten up the house. There were no yellow flowers in pots so I came home with a pleasant-enough white cyclamen. Not what I wanted. Maybe next week?

cyclamen to banish winter 'blah'

About to prepare lunch, I opened a cupboard and five or six bowls fell on the tiles and shattered. John and I picked up the pieces and I swept and vacuumed the floor.

Sunday’s lunch

We’d been given lots of lovely fresh eggs from John’s son’s hens. An omlet seemed like a good idea for lunch on a wet miserable day, until I picked up the bowl with eggs, cream and parsley with slippery hands. That, too, landed on the floor. There’s something quite disgusting about eggs and china in a mess on the tiles.

I’d put the bread in the toaster and turned it on. Of course the toast burnt. Black smoke poured out and triggererd the smoke alarm. We spent many minutes getting rid of the toast and trying to stop the alarm which seemed to become more insistent every second. Whatever would the neighbours think?

Cleaning the mess on the floor seemed even harder after that. I wept. Sad tears I couldn’t control seeped out of my eyes and down my cheeks. Not just for the bowls and the toast and eggs and mess. But also for the sadness I’d been feeling for days.

The pleasant lunch I’d planned took well over an hour to execute. By the time it was ready, our hunger had dissipated. We ate, anyway.

Our football team, the West Coast Eagles, played in Melbourne at 1.20 pm Eastern Standard Time. The telecast replayed here later. Always disappointing to watch a game when everyone else knows the result. The WCE have been hovering at the bottom of the ladder all year. They started this game well, but eventually lost.

I hadn’t started my blog and felt inclined to let it go. Come to think of it, I felt as if I’d done nothing creative for a hundred years. No wonder I felt sad.

Winter ‘Blah’? I see you!

Time to reset from winter ‘blah’

Obviously, the time had come for a rethink about life and why a miserable day had so thrown me. I hope my ideas might help someone else who is struggling.

  • Looking back over the day, I recognised the same old place. Let’s call it July Blues which is another name for winter ‘blah’. It’s an old country. They do things differently there and I don’t need to stay. Time to move on, at least for 2022. We’re half-way through winter, and there’s Spring to look forward to.
  • I asked myself what has helped in the past. ‘The Artist’s Way,blurted out my sub-conscious mind. I plan to write about this book by Julia Cameron soon. It sustains me like no other. I opened a page at random, and found a few quick tasks that changed my thinking. I recognised synchronicity that occured because I had an open mind to the possibilities of random choice.

My tasks

The tasks were to write lists. I always love a good list.

  • On a page of paper, number a list from 1-20. Quickly write 20 things you wish. It’s a way to get past the internal censor we all carry in our head. Some of my wishes were absolutely frivolous.
  • Write a list headed, ‘Ten ways I’m mean to myself’. Sounds silly. But go on! I dare you to write it. Making this list helps to exorcise the negative in our lives. When you know how you are mean, you can become more generous with yourself, a sure way to banish winter ‘blah’.
  • Write about your favourite way to stay blocked from what you want …
  • The pay-off for me of being blocked is …

When I’d finished these apparently frivolous tasks, my heart and head felt lighter. I’d needed a tie-breaker to jolt me out of my sadness. I slept well. This morning I swam 1000m. Went to an appointment with John. Had coffee with a granddaughter and her baby.

Now I’ve finished this post and life seems back to normal. Hooray!

Copyright, Maureen Helen 2022

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10 Comments

  1. Hooray hooray dearest friend Maureen. So pleased to hear your progress to normality – whatever that is. I will never forget how your wisdom has helped me so, so many times – the compiling of lists! How listing gives permission to BE. always love your blogs, love your loyalty, your willingness to be open. Thank you.

    1. Thank you, Elizabeth. I love your comment, and I am also rather please to return to some sort of normality after a bleak start to July.

  2. The winter blues has long been something I am familiar with. I do not need winter to bring on the blues at all, but having winter as well I could do without. I do not have it associated with losses like yours, Maureen, and I cannot imagine how that must feel. I don’t know why winter should bring this on, I could make all the usual observations about the greyness and all that, but I think it is something more deep seated in us. Spring doesn’t bring much relief, I think it would if I lived in a part of the world where seasons were more marked. The renewal of life in the world would be more obvious, I remember that so vividly from my life in the UK years ago. That time in the UK was connected with a prenatal loss that took me to your blog on abortion. So winter and the blues and loss are also connected for me. Ann

    1. I so sympthise with people like yourself, Ann Stynes, who experience winter blues (seasonal affective disorder or SAD). I’m not sure why it affects people who live in Perth, Western Australia, either. Maybe it has to do with the shorter days. Waking in the dark can be especially difficult. I actually love the rain and walk in it whenever I can, so it isn’t that for me.

      The loss of a baby at any stage of a pregnancy can be devestating. Many women live with memories of their loss and associated pain for the rest of their lives

  3. Maureen I love how you write so honestly about life’s struggles, both big and small. I realised while reading that I’ve also been feeling ‘bleah’ – perhaps from Covid recently, and a few injuries/aches & pains, but also feeling blocked with my writing. As usual you have some great suggestions and a wonderful attitude.

    Wishing you a lifting of your winter blues, and may spring bring you fresh experiences and creativity.

    1. Thank you for your kind remark, Fiona. And thank you for your good wishes.

      Being blocked creatively really hurts, doesn’t it? I always feel it like a mild pain in my chest, not at all nice, and not moved by deep breaths or any other relaxation techniques I can think up. I hope you recover soon and fully from your bout with COVID as well as with the writing block.

      1. A heartfelt post, Maureen. You’ve been in my thoughts a lot of late. Sending you love.

  4. Apologies for the delay in reading your blog.
    I’m sorry you’ve been feeling blah, and for your heart breaking reasons. I can relate to feeling low.
    Every so often things get on top of us for no particular reason. There are days when I think ‘what is the point?’ And then as quickly as the misery appeared it goes away again.

    This morning I looked at the date and felt quite sad that there were only five weeks of summer left before the nights begin to draw in and the autumn chills kick in. I actually like winter, I look forward to lighting the log burner, the darker afternoons and sitting in the late afternoon lamplight. So why I should feel miserable is beyond me.

    One thing I know is that my miserable days always pass and don’t last very long. I am grateful for that, because for so many others the misery never ends.
    Stay well, Maureen.

    1. Hi, Susan. Thank you for your comforting message and for sharing your own experience of feeling blah. This bout of being out of sorts has gone on far too long, and I’m hopeful that it will soon pass. I am usually less pessimistic, more able to plan ahead. Maybe the cold wet winter has something to do with my low mood. Thank you for your support.

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