25 July, 2016

25:07:2016

The last week has been a cold one for us Melburnians. While other areas of the world are reaching temperatures as high as fifty four degrees I’ve been grumbling about the fact that we got down to three degrees the other morning and I could see my breath while lying in bed. Despite twenty nine years on this planet and a preference for winter wear I still never really seem all that prepared for the season. Maybe it’s an Australian thing.

It could also be seasonal affective disorder, a mild form of depression that comes on over winter thought to be caused by the lack of exposure to light – and, which can appropriately be acronymed as SAD. Having a name for it and knowing that I’m likely to get a little SAD (wow, that acronym really does work well) over the winter months is good. It means when it does come on I can recognise it and do my best to buck up and get on with it until the happier sunny months come rolling on through. It can be a hard thing to ignore however. Not only is there wind, cold, and rain to dissuade me from getting outside and being productive, I also find I have a lackluster attitude to even try and do anything. Everything seems to become a little more pointless. Things like exercising, socialising, or doing anything that isn’t hibernating in bed alternation between reading, eating, sleeping and watching tv become mountainous tasks that seem to require much more energy than they actually do. This only works to feed the SAD as not only am I likely to gain some weight from indulging in such sedentary activities, which the depression happily feeds on, but by avoiding exercise I’m also avoiding the release of hormones such activities bring; the one thing most equipped to battle SAD. Without the vitamin D, or whatever it is, from the sun that triggers a catalyst of happiness, then surely the release of endorphins and dopamine that come post exercise are the next best thing to get our brains back to a more functional state.

Last winter SAD hit me pretty hard, not helped by the fact that the Lady Holly was living three hours away from me at the time and was equally as unhappy. This winter I decided to prepare myself. Not only did I buy more beanies to add to my already abundant beanie collection but I mentally prepared myself as well; cognitively bracing for the impact of SAD. I told myself to expect a dip in energy levels, and then to welcome winter, purposely finding ways to enjoy the extra time I was to spend at home in order to battle the winter blues (lately that’s been indoor picnics with my three favourites: whiskey, cheese, and the Lady Holly). I was also determined to keep exercising throughout the winter months so not only will I have an amazing beach bod come summer but also so I keep my hormone levels a little more skewed to the side of happy. For the most part this has worked pretty well. I can still feel an uncommon rise in apathy from time to time, and little things can affect me more than they might when the sun in shining, but during those times I remind myself what the cause may be and then force myself to go for a run or do something fun. To put it another way, I use some HAPPI (Hormonal Appeasement by Prioritising Positive Industry) to fight the SAD.

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In writing news The Lady Holly and Brother Jonathan have both now read my novelette and have given me feedback. Both were not only extremely constructive, helping me to strengthen the story and my writing, but were also very complimentative; which I thoroughly enjoyed, my ego basking in the warmth of their praise. Next I’m planning to make some edits based off of their feedback and then pass it on through a friend to her Aunty who’s a professional editor, and much less likely to be quite so nice as she doesn’t love me the way the other two do.

I’ve also started a new short story which so far has had a few false starts. I had a plot I liked but it took me writing out a few pages until I figured out just who my character is and how he relates to the theme. I ended up rewriting those first pages a few times until I had it right. I’ve got it mostly sorted in my head now, and on my notes page, however I might still ditch those initial pages once the stories done as they’re mostly set up and aren’t working to push the story forward as much as they should. We’ll see. In the meantime it’s all practise, it’s all learning, and, most importantly, it’s all fun.

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Finally, I thought I’d share a TED talk I watched the other week that I found very engaging. It covers the differences between introverts and extroverts and is presented by the highly entertaining psychologist Brian Little. If you don’t know if you’re an introvert or an extrovert I expect you will by the end of this talk.

Talk soon

Damian

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