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My latest conversation and update with Ms Gardenia...Part 1

Happy Wednesday! And, happy beginning of November 2022! Is it just me or are we quickly rounding the last corner and heading towards the finish line for this year? Honestly, it seems like this past 10 months went by in a flash. And, I consider this year to be a good one, most things considered. Maybe, it is my mindset or maybe I just don't stop to trivialize wake up and be grateful for the day (and whatever it brings) feels peaceful and natural to me. And, perhaps it just it too much effort to be troubled about things I can't change. In any case, I am so thankful for the gift of another day...So, let's get on with today's topic...

This past week I had an opportunity to circle back and meet up with someone I interviewed a number of months ago. She is someone who has seasonal depression and has been taking care of her symptoms every year for the past 20 years. No pun intended, but, she can be said to be a "seasoned" sufferer of this type of depression, and her honesty and openness about her struggles is extremely valuable to understand the facets of this affliction. To re-cap from the first interview and to protect her identity, I gave her a name for the flower she adores; the gardenia! So, the following is excerpts from our long and leisure conversation.

To begin, we met in a market/cafe/coffee stop and, it is worth noting that what made this an enjoyable experience was the location of our meeting. The building that houses this market was once a post office. And, while the aesthetics have changed in order to offer food and groceries, the building still has its original high ceilings, dark moldings, huge windows and all the visuals and smells to make for a delightful experience. The tables where one can sit with coffee or eats is cordoned off from the main parts of the store, so its semi private. This setting makes for a relaxing and very sun filled space. As we settled in to begin chatting, I could sense that there was going to be some sort of announcement. Ms Gardenia came with a really upbeat expression and that was the giveaway. Indeed, her first statement was to proclaim that she had just turned in a soft resignation to her employer. What this means for her is that she would work until the end of this year, and so the countdown begins! So, from its onset, the conversation rolled continuously and with little effort to talk about what this means to her and her lifestyle, especially with the seasonal depression symptoms on the horizon. Ms Gardenia spoke with enthusiasm as she explained that she had a recent revelation that brought her to this juncture.

I want to stop here to remark how this conversation is already marked with an elevated sense of spirit/mood. Rather than an air of foreboding, which is so apparent when starting to reveal the feelings and emotions tied up with seasonal depression, her mood was strikingly upbeat. More often than not, people posting about their symptoms or the anticipation of them are pointed towards the inevitable dread that they feel as time draws nearer to the months of ones season of depression. Whereas, in this conversation already, there is a atmosphere of positivity, excitement and joy as I listened to Ms Gardenia talk about her "walk" at this time. (This noticeable difference in demeanor made me tuck away a thought for a post on social media that might offer some solace for the SAD folks out there).

Back to our meeting...Here are some of the things noted during this conversation: Rather than living throughout the winter season, with a default mindset of "getting by", it was blatantly noticeable that there is a newer stream of thought. Further, Ms Gardenia is now looking at the winter season as a huge opportunity for "discovery"; which might mean visiting places she has never been, learning new things (maybe a new craft?), travel (which is hugely at the top of her list), self improvement which could be taking yoga classes or learning to speak a different language, etc., scripture study (bible reading and in-depth research). She beamed as she said that winter time can be seen as a time for "thinking and dwelling" (her words), as winter weather removes the preference of being outdoors, whereas summer weather invites it. With that change, it means finding places conducive for quiet reading or contemplation or planning; coffee shops, bookstores, cozy spaces at the local library. To add to that, we both agreed that there are far less distractions in these kinds of retreats. She stopped for a moment to say that she feels determined to do the best she can, regardless of the circumstances. This was a small reality check to admit that, although plans can be made, often times it is important to remain flexible, as life has a way of changing things up with little notice. And remember, she still has a family to care for. Moreover, she said that by leaning IN to her symptoms of SAD isn't a setback to all she plans to do; but she is determined NOT TO STAY caught up in them. So acknowledging how she feels, dealing with it and making the choice to move on is the battle plan. In addition, investing in the above list of ideas isn't a move to deny her SAD, it means just not letting it take her out for the season.

One big takeaway sprinkled with some grace and wisdom was this statement: "Looking at my life through a different lens allows me the freedom to create a future self". These sound like encouraging and positive words, yes?

Because our conversation provided an opportunity to take lots of notes, I am going to divide that meeting into two parts, so I will stop here. Perhaps this post gives you something to contemplate until next time. We, in the Northern United States, are fast approaching our "Bat Cave" season, so let's take some time to think about ways to invest in ourselves. This could be a huge turning point, if we adopt the positive mindset Ms Gardenia has chosen. It could make for a content and happy quality of life whilst we wait for the warm weather and sunshine to return on the other side...spring 2023.

Have a great week and I will be back next week with our followup and conclusion with our friend, Ms Gardenia.

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