I’m truly lucky to live in California.
I know I am.
But it often amuses me when others, based elsewhere, make the assumption that the sun always shines here, and that we spend all our time on the beach.
In fact, it’s been about six months since I even saw the ocean, and the mornings in particular are pretty chilly right now.
Ice-scraping the car is a more or less daily morning routine at the moment.
I’m definitely not complaining, though.
For one thing, it could be tons worse.
For another, it’s actually nice to have at least a little seasonal variability across the year.
In fact, the only reason I raise it at all is because the slightly false impression others may have of the Californian weather is not so far removed from the situation in which, even though you know you suffer from depression, others think you’re nothing but a little ray of sunshine.
In fact, I still vividly recall the moment, 10 years ago, when I told two of my best friends that I’d seen a psychiatrist about my 30 years of on/off depression.
They smiled at me in the way you might act if a friend told you they’d been abducted by aliens 30 years ago, and replaced with a cyborg.
“We hear you,” they seemed to say, “but we know you can’t be serious.”
I don’t blame them, in any way.
Actually, it was probably a compliment to my clearly Olivier-ian acting skills.
I’d become pretty expert at masking my feelings.
In retrospect, however, I don’t think this was such a great skill to have developed.
How the heck can people help you, if you aren’t at least somewhat honest about what you’re going through?
If you broke your arm, would it really be sensible to pretend you hadn’t?
Perhaps we try to keep our lowness away from others for fear of being judged, abandoned, or pitied.
In doing so, however, we deny ourselves the possibility of getting help from a fellow human being, or at the very least of having the chance to verbalise our emotions, which can often play a part in processing them.
Telling others how you feel doesn’t necessarily mean telling everyone, and it probably also shouldn’t mean dousing an unlucky few with a firehose of misery.
But making one small step towards “talking it out” can be invaluable, as can – just as importantly – being open to helping others do the same, with you as the listener.
Although it’s cold here, the sun’s also shining.