Activist movements, as in almost all things, can suck you dry—there is always more to be done, more people to reach out to, more actions to plan, more art to make, more reaching out. But at a certain point you have to be able to say, this is my limit. But we’re not socialized in a way to know what our limits are, to think thoughtfully about our capacity, and how to use self care in order to build our capacity. We're not socialized to be able to say, "Enough, I can't do this any longer." I've seen it wear down on people until disease forces them to make big life changes.
I have alluded subtly before that I suffer from the Seasonal Affective Disorder. It fucking sucks. I am a very logical person* and there are so many real things in life that bum me out, so it is made ever so worse to feel so very all alone, anxious and sad just because of my body’s reaction to the time of year.
Never one to suffer in silence or suffer without trying to do something about it, I have sought out a few remedies, both from my vast experience dealing with significantly terrible life altering changes and from my friends. Below I share them with you, cherished reader.
Most of these tips are good to use whenever life is getting you down, for many other reasons than just lack of light. They are also super low cost/free.
Tip One: When you feel like things are out of control, figure out what you can control and control the hell out of it.
A friend of mine told me this about two years ago and it works wonders when I am feeling anxious or worried, both of my own creation and because of external madness. Small ways I take control are to stop what I am doing and think about micro steps where I can get something small done immediately. “What do I have control over right this second? What can I do to exercise control?” Seeing progress, even a little bit, is really helpful.
Another way to establish control is on my environment. I am not a born-organized person. In fact, I am a bit of a “clean slob” (things are always clean, but I tend toward clutter strewn about). I am an avid follower of FLYLady, who teaches you how to get organized in baby steps–for free**. In just three days, 15 minutes at a time, I transformed my really messy and cluttered desk into a clean workspace.
I then proceeded to write a really amazing piece of art I had been procrastinating writing down for almost a decade.
When I am feeling ever so sad and I can’t motivate myself, I think in terms of just a few minutes, just fifteen minutes, whatever I can do to get something done. It really does make me feel better.
Tip Two: Live your life according to the quotes on your tea bags.
I got this tip from World Famous *BOB*. She was having a tough time and decided to do this for one week. Such small but magical quotes as:
“On with the dance, let joy be unconfined” -Mark Twain
“We do not remember days, we remember moments.” Cesare Pavese
And “A romance without friendship is like a mansion built upon the sand.” *BOB* credits this for asking out her current beau again. I’m happy to say they are still going strong.
*BOB* enjoys a cupcake on the chaise at Re/Dress NYC.
There’s something to the generally benevolent and uplifting sentiments on the sides of those tea boxes and the little tags hanging out of coffee cups. They are meant to help you feel better about the world, and help you connect a little bit more with the world around you.
In my entire Lesbian Tea Basket I couldn’t find a single quote on a tea bag. I should stop buying my tea from Trader Joe’s.
Tip Three: Come up with a cutesy way to describe how you’re feeling.
Previously in this blog I presented Glenn Marla’s definition of Tragic versus Depressed. I have decided to call my Seasonal Depression the Winter Blah Blah Blahs. It’s just far more adorable and easier to combat when the scary monster is something you can change your relationship to by renaming it.
Me and Glenn Marla at his performance series Heavy on Thursday night. He is wearing a glittery ascot. I am wearing a Looks Good From the Front hairpiece.
Tip Four: Get light anywhere you can.
What I did was to amp up the volume on my nail color. My day to day color is Fuschia. I think I made a big leap the time I decided to go for fuschia at the nail salon about two and a half years ago. I kept noticing that every time I looked at my nails I smiled. So I committed to it. I like the Sally Hansen Hard As Nails Xtreme Wear-fuchsia Power.
Given my Winter Blah Blah Blahs, I decided to amp it up a little bit. I went to the nail salon for my $7 manicure and got day glo pink. It is insanely bright, and definitely doing its part to impart a little more light on the world.
Get creative and find something that you can make a little bit brighter!
Tip Five: Asking for help.
Asking for help is a skill. Vulnerability is a sign of strength. I’ve talked about this before. I asked for help and got a lot of really useful tips from my friends. A reminder from Golda at Body Love Wellness to take a walk everyday when the sun is at its highest. I try to walk 30 minutes a day, and instead of doing it at night with Macy I am doing my best to get out there at noon. It has made a huge difference. So has taking more Vitamin D and an emergen-c in the morning. My butch ironworker roommate is loaning me a UV lamp to bask under for additional help.
Its been about two weeks since I started getting really bluesy and I am feeling much much better. It takes a lot of diligence on my part, which sort of sucks, but anything worth doing is worth working for.
*And a Capricorn with a Virgo Rising, if that kind of thing matters to you, which it does to me.
**I know a lot of queers who follow FLYLady and it really applies to all lifestyles, though at first glance it seems just for ladies with kids.