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Surviving Winter

by Jen Piacos 4 years ago in depression
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Keeping Warm, and Those Oh so Intimidating Big City Neighbourhoods

Seasonal Affective Disorder, abbreviated accordingly as SAD, or better known as "winter depression," is described by the National Health Service (NHS) as a type of depression that comes and goes in a seasonal pattern. Symptoms include having a persistent low mood, irritability, despair and a general lack of energy. These symptoms are usually more apparent and more severe during the cold, dark winter days. One theory suggests that SAD might come from lack of exposure to sunlight, thereby affecting some parts of the brain responsible for controlling mood, appetite and sleep pattern. I remembered winter depression just recently when British Summer Time took 60 minutes back, and Ph is now plus 8 hours away. The gloom is coming, and as is heat tech undergarments and layers of clothing.

Having studied nursing in a predominantly tropical country, SAD and its variants were never really taken seriously by the likes of me. Although they were part of classroom discussions, depression in relation to the change of seasons in a James Taylor song was just not something we could've related to. Obviously, all we ever experienced in our country was either a dry or a wet season, but thankfully we see see the sun 80-90 percent of the time.

Thus, a major adjustment for fellow Pinoys when we decide to work abroad is our battle with winter, spring, summer, and fall. Specifically WINTER and the SAD that often comes with it, because homesickness is real when the wind hurts your face, your fingers are numb and the skies turn dark at four in the afternoon. But the spirits of surviving and the genes of resiliency are strong. The best way to combat homesickness is to keep oneself busy with work, and if not to entertain oneself with trivial matters. The world is a huge place to satisfy curiosities, and living abroad is one completely different playground on which to do so.

In today's downtime, after a tip from the internet and the help Google Maps, I found myself in one of those intimidating big city neighbourhoods. Of all places in London, Google maps brought me to Bond Street, notorious for high end shopping and everything else expensive. I only wanted to visit a gallery holding a Bob Dylan exhibit, and I found the gallery sandwiched between shops selling things I could never afford, nor persuade myself to buy in this lifetime. I felt seriously intimidated and out of place, not to mention the red floor, which was probably part of the aesthetic, and those men in suits standing on the side. I couldn't bring my feet towards the gallery doors, and was so embarrassed with myself. So I waltzed out of the way and blended into the more crowded, familiar streets of touristy central London.

Believe me, it was damn difficult to walk in. I just wanted to appreciate an artist who used to wake me up on weekends as a child. My father has this Bob Dylan Greatest Hits album he used to play on one of those rectangular non-portable CD players. I remember spending weekends reading The Book of Knowledge and listening to the sound of the harmonica, until I knew the lyrics to "Mr. Tambourine Man," "All I really Want To Do," and "Maggie's Farm" to name a few. As I grew up, I had my boy band/girl group phase, but once I found my identity in music, I always fall back to those early days of my childhood. In fact, on my first ever job interview, I was asked what my favourite song was, out of nowhere I blurted "Like a Rolling Stone" by Bob Dylan. I got blank stares but I was hired.

Halcyon Gallery, which was holding the exhibit, was just too much for me today, I guess. Maybe I need to do more research on this artsy fartsy gallery life. Not to waste a good day, and after refueling with everything Matcha, I went to The National Gallery just to find the sunflower painting by Vincent Van Gogh. This time it felt easy walking amongst tourists. Yellow is still my favourite colour. Sigh, I can't believe I found comfort from my embarrassment, walking along milk tea loving people.

On my way home, I kept thinking about how retarded I was today. I seriously understand how it can be difficult to be who you want to be and to chase your dreams in a world of haves and have nots. I'm saying that because had I grown up in a completely different society, I felt I would've had the guts to walk in without hesitation, despite the extravagant surroundings, and see Bob Dylan's lyrics. Nevertheless I'm proud of my roots, and I swear I won't let societal norms get in the way these butterflies in my head.

Maybe one day I'll pucker up the courage to not let my insecurities eat me. The exhibit runs till end of November anyways.


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Jen Piacos

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