In Review

"Winter's Tale" © Doug Wheller, 2008. CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.
Winter’s Tale” © Doug Wheller, 2008. CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

Over the last few years, I’ve lost a majority of my year-end traditions. Most of that is because I don’t like crowds, hanging out with drunk people, or staying up past 10 PM. The rest of it is because I know that nothing actually changes when the calendar turns over. The first of the year is no more of a new beginning than any other day. I don’t see what the big deal is. Except, of course, all the cheesy jokes we get to make (“I haven’t showered since last year!”).

But I am a huge fan of data. And “by year” is a great way to organize it. So on the last day of the year I tend to look back and see what I can learn from the last twelve months. This year, I’m especially struck by my exercise log.

There are two things I discovered in this year’s log. One, I ran two and half times as many miles this year as last year (which is super cool). And two, I can tell exactly when I was hardest hit by depression. I can see it slink its way into my life and slide back out again.

My 2014 exercise record
My Garmin exercise log from 2014 (click to enlarge)

Before, I thought the winter was the hardest for me. Now I think most of the winter goes by without much notice at all. I manage to stay busy, I keep my head on straight. I know that the lack of sunlight messes with me, so I’m diligent about my self-care. But I can tell my resolve starts to slip in February.

Maybe I’m just worn out by then. It’s been so dark for so long and it seems like even the sun is sick of trying to haul itself above the horizon. I don’t know if I stop running and then the despair has the chance to get its claws in me or if it’s the other way around. I can’t imagine there’s an easy way to tell, either. You just have to do anything you can to keep moving.

In March I struggled to keep my head above water. I remember that month. It felt like completely unmanageable in a lot of ways. I was couch-locked more and more often. Hopeless and helpless, I was overcome by that aching, “if this is what life is like, I don’t think I can do it” feeling. I just ran out of fight and I didn’t get it back again until well into summer.

I don’t know if there’s anything to do with any of this information. I don’t know if I’m going to be able to absorb it, somehow use it to prevent this pattern from reemerging in 2015. But maybe I can. At least it goes to show that the times I need the most fight are different than I thought.

Then again, maybe the places I need the most fight are, you know, all them.

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