I grew up in a suburb of Buffalo, NY. For 22 years, I lived in Lockport, a city on the Erie Barge Canal located about 30 miles east of Niagara Falls. From mid-November until Lake Erie freezes, the sky is dull gray. I wouldn’t see the sun for weeks at a time. In mid-January, there would be sunshine, but the high temperature was 10 degrees for days on end. I never had SAD. I never had cabin fever. Cold and gray were a part of life. Driving anywhere required extra time to shovel the driveway, chip the ice off the car, and navigating unplowed roads because nothing closed down. We went to work or to school no matter what the weather. Unless at least a foot of snow fell overnight, schools and places of employment stayed open.
I moved to New Mexico, and my gloomy weather skills disappeared. If we have three cloudy days in a row – something that rarely happens in southern New Mexico – I get depressed and anxious. I haven’t been able to resuscitate gloomy weather skills, and I’m being held captive by a virus. New Mexico has been shut down since mid-March. My last day at school was March 13. A week later, the governor shut down the state. Gas is cheap, but there’s nowhere to go. Hotels are empty. Restaurants are empty. Some of the hiking trails on BLM lands are open, but the restrooms are locked. We have to wear masks when in public. I made masks with elastic to go around my ears. The mask was okay, but the elastic didn’t play nice with my hearing aids. The elastic kept flipping my over-the-ear hearing aids off my ears. I made hearing aid friendly masks with ties. I started wearing masks long before the governor ordered masks to be worn in public. My mask is hot, makes it harder to breathe, and my glasses get fogged up. I wear my mask anyway.
I have severe depression, chronic insomnia, elevated anxiety, can’t concentrate, can’t think like I used to, and I’m overeating. I’m an artist. I should be making art. Instead, I’m making bias binding, reversible masks with ties, and playing computer solitaire. I should do a deep clean in the sewing room. I did clean the bathroom last week, but I had to force myself to do so. I should work on the novel, but I don’t feel like it. I never had this problem when I lived in Lockport even when the high temperature was 10 degrees and we had a 50 mile an hour wind blowing in from over a frozen lake.
I know Jim and I are significantly more fortunate than many others. We’ve had no loss of income, the bills are paid on time, and we have plenty of food, tissues and toilet paper.
I still have severe depression. Severe enough that I had to increase the dosage for my antidepressant. Yes, my doctor is aware of what I’m doing. I munch on a piece of medical marijuana infused white chocolate bar in an effort to relieve the anxiety and worry about becoming addicted to marijuana. My antianxiety med doesn’t work well enough to block the anxiety I feel and I worry about becoming addicted to my antianxiety med.
If you listen carefully, you’ll hear Warren Zevon singing Worrier King.