‘Tis the season to be cranky

Dave totally captures  the essence of holiday stress in this mug shot

Every year around this holiday season, I start to feel agitated and dissatisfied. I love Thanksgiving the most, and Christmas is pretty great, too, but as much as I enjoy the extra time with the girls, the family and food, all the socializing and seasonal delights, it throws me off every year. Old self-soothing techniques creep back in and because these quick fixes aren’t contributing to a more balanced version of Amanda, I’m often cranky along with agitated and dissatisfied. This trifecta of feelings has a way of exacerbating my need for self-medicating– an unpleasant cycle, indeed. For example, this week I’ve been staying up too late, eating from the package of weird super-market fudge Dave bought for a video project and watching mediocre Netflix movies starring hunky men.

The handsome men thing isn’t a typical seasonal symptom, but I also happen to have ovulation hormones coursing through me. Sometimes I’m more affected by this than others. If I’m fairly balanced, I can tell what time of the month it is, but it’s no big deal. Since balanced isn’t what we are dealing with, my face is breaking out, I’m under-slept (which brings a special edginess to my agitation), and my resolve to avoid caffeine and sweets isn’t really there. Plus, there’s this surprising pick-a-fight/flirtatious vibe when I’m buying my tea from the man-barista or chatting with the dude in line. Oh, and I’m crying every day.

As charming as all of this might sound, the part that gives me hope certainly isn’t my behavior or an idea that I’ve come so far. I can’t say that I’m proud of the awareness that year after year that this is a thing for me. But I will say, the biggest, most significant difference in this years seasonal funk is that I’m not all that worried about it. I don’t feel like I’m failing a good-person exam. I don’t dislike myself for struggling and suffering and I’m not as hooked in when I do feel cranky. I don’t feel like a fake yogini for having problems. If anything, I feel much more freedom to be in the muck and feel it and see it through. All of this stuff can come and go more freely. It feels decidedly temporary.

As best as I can tell, the confidence underneath this mood and this hormonal cloud comes from love. It’s a pretty fundamental thing that I was missing for a long time—loving myself and loving my life, however messy. So yes, I’m still dealing with this same seasonal moodiness, but it’s not my identity. it’s not who I am. And should I want to employ an aggressive anti-agitation agenda, years of yoga have given me some tried and tested tools for the job, but if I don’t work hard to conquer my seasonal fudge-indulgences and hormonal bad movie stint, I’ll still be okay, and I’ll still be able to find the love in there underneath it all.

6 thoughts on “‘Tis the season to be cranky

  1. man-oh-man, i can relate to this. seasonal affective disorder is for real, yo. and i definitely get it. worse because i’m from california and now live in a place with a real winter. the fact that you’ve stopped blaming yourself is huge – and incredibly helpful…i find that the worst cycle possible is beating myself up for feeling bad in the first place. it’s horrendous. i also find that – as difficult as it is to find any energy this time of year – the best thing for me to do is to keep as busy as possible…time to reflect when i’m prone to being down is a no-no. as is encounterillumination, i’ll be hanging in there with you until the sun comes back in fuller force.

    1. What is this weird, pervasive cycle of feeling bad, feeling bad about feeling bad, and then feeling worse? I can so relate to that, ann.

      I’m attempting to just feel bad, shrug and roll the eyes at this predictable seasonal thing, and then wait for it to change. Because it probably will.

  2. Ah! Yes I feel it too, the seasonal undercurrent of discontent. But even at my most despairing, I can feel the hope there. I know it’s temporary. Yes, things aren’t going my way. Yes, things are uncertain. Yes, I’m edgy, cranky and worried. But somewhere under all of that, the light still shines, and I know it. You aren’t alone, Amanda!

    1. I love the moments when I can connect to that light you describe– the light that still shines even when the cranks take off. Sincere people help me to find that and my daily practice is good for that too. Thanks, Sara, for being one of those folks!

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