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Let’s Talk 2: Winter in Vancouver

In Vancouver we get a lot of rain. Even if you don’t live here I’m sure you’ve heard of it. It’s a thing here. When I was getting ready to move out here, I was asked by almost every single person I talked to whether I was ready for that much rain. I don’t know what they expected me to say – I’d found the perfect job and the perfect city to live in so rain sure as hell wasn’t going to stop me from going. But it does get in the way a lot of the time.

What most people don’t really understand until they live here is how it takes a toll on you, mentally. It’s not so much about the dampness, or how it makes the cold feel a lot colder, or how it limits your outdoor time all winter. It’s about the lack of sun.

The period of time from late September all the way through to April, or even late May, is almost exclusively filled with darkness all day, darkness all night. We can go literally a month straight without seeing the sun come out. I think a lot of people here don’t consciously identify how stressful that can be. Humans need the sun.

My hair is a bit too red to spend much time in the sun – I even still surprise my friends as to how fast I’ll burn up. I used to shy away from sunlight like a vampire. Now I crave it. I never used to. When it’s back I can use my vacation time and spend weeks camping outside, hiking, and actually getting to see the mountains that lured me out here in the first place, lit up and coloured in beautifully instead of the murky greyscale they’ve taken on all the last season, yelling at me to go outside.

I watch my mood change very dramatically during the winter. I don’t know how easy that is for you to detect, reader who I can only assume is one of my friends, but the depression sets in pretty deep. Not Depression with a capital D -I don’t think I really know what that actually feels like – but this is more of a fatigued apathy, deadening me down to (I assume) come across a lot more impassive than my usual self. It makes me want to just sleep until summer comes.

But in that feeling I’ve learned to embrace the cold months though, by thinking of it more as a period of hibernation. That makes it feel more justified to be sleepier, slower, more sluggish, pack in food and then snooze in a blanket cave. My summer and fall are so pell-mell this approach actually becomes a welcome reprieve. It’s just as rewarding to invite friends to come spend time with us in the cave and share some berries. It’s been vastly helpful for my mental health.

I hope you manage to find your own way to push through to summer, keep an eye on that brain and try to scrounge up positivity to feed it whenever you’re able, whatever that means to you.

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