A flock of crows
December 5, 2015 4:49 AM   Subscribe

That was beautifully written, and expresses what I've been feeling although far from Dublin. Thank you.
posted by kinnakeet at 5:22 AM on December 5, 2015

“Depression arrives like a flock of crows. But you must never let them sit,”
Hardy har. As if I can tell the crows to beat it. More accurately: as if the crows care when I tell them to beat it; if anything, they cock their head a bit, eye me quizzically.


We're coming on to the longest night of the year, the shortest day. I don't know but I'd bet if I had to that people went to bed and slept when the day was done, prior to electricity being as common as it is. Yeah, we're of high intellect, our art and our technology and our spirit soar considerably higher than that of, say, a mole, or an aardvark. But regardless our topping out over dung beetles, we're still animals, and deeply affected by our relation to our local star, deeply affected to our planets relation to our local star. "To every thing / there is a season" Etc and etc.

So there's that.


For years I just assumed that it was so painful because of the holidaze, and my life not looking like a hallmark card. Every year, from before Thanksgiving day and until after Valentines day, it was a brutal slog for me. Even if/when I've been coupled with someone it's never been much fun, but I've been alone most of my life, for any number of reasons, and you never, ever see people alone this time of year on hallmark cards.

It's by far the most dangerous time of year for me -- that fine, thin, beautiful, golden light of Autumn, that's a red flag that I've learned that I'd best heed. It's always when I've hurt the worst, I'm looking around, and everything is dying off and, hey, that looks like a good plan.

And I'm not *just* depressed (*just* depressed, as though that's not a horror show; read Styron some day if you're up for a few chuckles) I've got this manic depression thing going. It's commonly referred to as bipolar disorder nowadays but that's really a misnomer, people can and easily do tend to see the illness as having two poles and think that the person suffering it is either up or they're down. That's just inaccurate. Manic depression is a spectrum disorder. Here's Kay Redfield Jamison, who literally co-wrote the text book on manic depression, and has written a number of other books on the topic also:
“The clinical reality of manic-depressive illness is far more lethal and infinitely more complex than the current psychiatric nomenclature, bipolar disorder, would suggest. Cycles of fluctuating moods and energy levels serve as a background to constantly changing thoughts, behaviors, and feelings. The illness encompasses the extremes of human experience. Thinking can range from florid psychosis, or “madness,” to patterns of unusually clear, fast and creative associations, to retardation so profound that no meaningful mental activity can occur. Behavior can be frenzied, expansive, bizarre, and seductive, or it can be seclusive, sluggish, and dangerously suicidal. Moods may swing erratically between euphoria and despair or irritability and desperation. The rapid oscillations and combinations of such extremes result in an intricately textured clinical picture.”
Kay Jamison, Ph.D.

So anyways. Try to get the crows to read Jamison with you, and to consider it, maybe dialog with you about it. My experience is that they're just not interested.


So it's time to surround ourselves with friends, understanding friends. And warm blankets. Warm socks. Warm sweaters. Hot tea. Good books. Myself, I keep a candle or two going, those totally wacky and very cool Mexican Catholic candles with their bizarre religious super-heroes printed on cheap paper, the flame flickering -- my hearth. And religion; though I've found most of them to be comical, I have absolutely found peace, comfort, and understanding in The Church Of The Flying Spaghetti Monster. Plus, since *finally* reaching medicinal armistice with this son-of-a-bitching manic depression, I am absolutely, 100 percent religious w/r/t taking my psych meds. They are my sacrament.


Last. I've gone on here about the heaviness of the season, but my favorite day of the year is December 21st. The Winter Solstice. The longest night. The shortest day. I don't care about new years or Christmas, you can have them, my holiday is the Winter Solstice, which actually *is* the new year kicking off. It's my day of reflection. I spend it gently, maybe some writing, maybe not, some time with family and friends, some time alone. It's a good day. I see the crows, and they don't bother me one bit.
posted by dancestoblue at 7:05 AM on December 5, 2015 [8 favorites]

I've heard it called "a touch of the black" but I never got the crow reference.

Seasonal depression sucks, because you can't do anything about it, unless you're rich enough to move, and I'm not.
posted by Sphinx at 7:15 AM on December 5, 2015

I love his description of sinking into it, with pillows and Scriabin ... and also his acknowledgment that not everyone has the time, or the comfort, to let go like that.

He welcomes the crows, just for a bit. It's a brave thing to do, if you can do it.
posted by allthinky at 8:33 AM on December 5, 2015

If you can recognize seasonal depression as kinship with the Earth with regard to winter's dormancy, and huddle down with it in memory of all winters past, then it is a shared relationship. If you will take 3000 IU of Vitamin D, it does help with the feeling in the bones. From this yearly plunge into the dark, I engender hope in myself, a solitary fire to tend along the margins of emptiness. I truly celebrate the Solstice, but really celebrate around the second of January, because by that time I can fell the strength in the rising light. I am a firm believer in physically greeting the dawn or sunset every day, letting the light from our star come in through closed eyelids and inform my ancient genetic clocks of the time and its promise of eventual renewal.

I have friends who suffer terribly from seasonal affective disorder. I learned a long time ago that staying in touch with the solar cycle, helps mitigate some SAD realities. Well, and it is reality in the most basic sense. I also love crows as metaphor and as crows. They are the best neighbors, and decorations for trees. Often a trio of them sit in the highest tree out front at certain times only, waiting for the first sun to come around the shoulder of the mountain. A large canyon on each side of it allows for early light. So, the crows are here when the sun strikes here first.

Yeah, I am rambling.
posted by Oyéah at 8:37 AM on December 5, 2015 [4 favorites]

Man, I hate the winter inertia. I am not doing anything I'm not officially scheduled to do, it's dark dark dark, I'm scared to cross the streets on foot with everyone being crazy behind the wheel because it's dark so fast, I'm freezing, I'm dressed in so many layers I look like the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man (except in Christmas bling) and I hate losing my driving force to go out and do after 5 p.m. There's things I want to do and have the time for right now but... WAAAAAAAAAAAA DARK COLD WAAAAAAAAAAAAH.
posted by jenfullmoon at 9:42 AM on December 5, 2015 [3 favorites]

@rollick, thanks for this.
posted by old_growler at 11:03 AM on December 5, 2015

jenfullmoon, I know. Every year I'll be rushing around exhausted after work in the freezing pitch black with everyone else glassy eyed and rushing and it makes me want to scream AAAA WE ARE DOING WINTER WRONG WE ALL NEED NAPS AND COCOA!

basically, Oyéah, I agree wholeheartedly. It's not nature's fault, it's culture's.
posted by zinful at 12:48 AM on December 6, 2015 [1 favorite]

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