Saturday, December 21, 2013

On the Longest Night

Tonight is the Longest Night.

As they do every year, the days have become shorter and darker, the nights longer.  And as it does every year, a tiny but visceral fear has taken root in my mind:

What if it never gets better?

What if the days just keep getting shorter and darker, until the light is gone forever?

What if this is the last winter, the forever winter, that will never ever go away?

That's a bit like what living with episodic depression is like.  Every day a little darker, every day a little harder to get out of bed, and you keep telling yourself, because your rational scientific brain KNOWS IT, that this will have to get better, that the world is a circle and life will spin back to long days and lazy afternoons someday.  But that Traitor Brain in the back of your head says, "What if?  What if it never gets better?  What if the happiness becomes more and more fleeting, less and less powerful, until the long darkness just...stays?  What if this episode is the one that kills you?"

It's no coincidence that most of my serious depressive episodes happen in the winter.  Though it's not quite SAD, there's something about watching the sun go that speaks to an inexorable creeping darkness.

Yule has special meaning for me, because it is a defiant night, when you stand in that darkness, and you watch the sun go down, and you throw faith out into the world and tell yourself that this, this is the darkest of it.  And you put all your faith, everything you are, into the certainty of the coming sun.  You burn so brightly into that darkness, because you know you're halfway there, and you throw a little extra into the fire because you know that somewhere out there is someone whose faith may not be strong enough to see them through to sunrise, but they can get there by the light of your burning.

This has been a good year.  Traitor Brain has been driven back to her cave, and holds little power in my daily life.  Last winter was much harder, much colder.

I know that the worst of winter lies before me, the bone-deep cold and the hard frozen earth and the creeping frost death that strikes even in the heart of Texas.  But I am armed against that whispering chill, with a sword to batter the walls of ice and a shield before me that shines like mercy and wonder.

I believe in the sun, and I will it back with the joy of my heart.

Blessed be, my loves.

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