December 2011 Newsletter
Dear Friends & Fans:
‘Tis the season to be jolly, right? Then why am I feeling so sad? Or rather, so S.A.D. Yes, I’m talking about Seasonal Affective Disorder, a mood disorder that affects 6.1% of the U.S. population. I’m sure most of you have heard of it; maybe you’ve even experienced it yourself. It’s a condition often referred to as “winter blues.” I first noticed it as far back as in the 90’s, although I didn’t know what it was at the time. It was late in the day in November, and my son was out delivering newspapers. He was late getting home, and being a typical mother, I began to worry, so I went out looking for him. As I drove around my neighborhood streets, darkness was quickly approaching, and with it, a sense of dread filled my heart. I just assumed it was a mother’s worry about her son, but even after I found him, and we were on our way home, I couldn’t quite shake the feeling of doom.
In the last few years, I’ve found myself dreading October and November, the shorter days of sunlight, the advancing winter. And this year has been particularly hard. I look back to the days when I loved winter. We were avid skiers then, and always went to Vermont in January or February for a week’s vacation. But when my sister broke her femur skiing in 2008, it ended our skiing as well. At the time, I looked at it as a wake-up call; we were in our 50’s, and had never been seriously injured in 12 years of skiing. And when I saw what Kathy went through in her recovery, I knew I didn’t want to risk that happening to me. Now, I wonder if I made the right decision. Maybe if we were still skiing, I wouldn’t be feeling so blue at the approach of winter.
But I know I’m kidding myself. This isn’t something that a ski trip will fix. Not when you’re dealing with S.A.D. In October, during an especially bad week, I actually called my primary care provider to make an appointment for my depression. To my astonishment, the receptionist told me that my doctor’s appointment book was full for that week, and to call back the next Wednesday. By the time Wednesday rolled around, I was feeling okay again, so I didn’t call. But…I keep thinking…what if I had been suicidal? I imagine most people who are probably wouldn’t come out and admit it to a receptionist. The more I think about that, the angrier it makes me!
I should call and make an appointment; I know that. But I keep thinking…maybe it’s not S.A.D. Maybe it’s just…life. Maybe it’s about change. After all, Christmas isn’t what it used to be—a house filled with happy children. I remember how I used to get so excited about all the holiday cookie baking, the present wrapping, the tree-trimming. Now, it all feels like chores. And I don’t want to feel like that! I don’t want to be a Scrooge. When I was a child, I remember hearing an elderly relative say they weren’t putting up a tree that year, and I just couldn’t understand it. Now…I do. And I hate that! Of course, Christmas has never been the same for me since I lost my mother on December 19th, 1998. Thirteen years, and I still miss her terribly. So, maybe this is part of the reason I feel so blue this time of year.
Yesterday I baked my first batch of holiday cookies while watching “One Life to Live” on TV. And suddenly I had a flashback to Christmas, 1975. Frank and I were living in Carolina Beach, North Carolina. It was our second Christmas together, and I was so thrilled to be playing Suzie Homemaker, baking in my own little kitchen in our rented mobile home with “Days of Our Lives” playing on TV. Even though the weather wasn’t Christmassy at all, it felt like a winter wonderland for me as I sprinkled red and green sugar on cookies. Little did I know at the time that my own little Leah had just started to grow inside me. How could that possibly have been 35 years ago?
Another day has passed since I began writing this newsletter, and I’m feeling better. Maybe it’s the therapy of sharing with y’all. Or maybe it’s because I’m counting my blessings—and I have many. My wonderful husband of 37 years (our anniversary is coming up on December 7th), two great “kids,” Leah and Stephen, and the most adorable grandsons in the world, Luke and Zealand. I have a new novel coming out in March, and I’m reissuing my very first novel, BORDER CROSSINGS, in a few weeks. I belong to a great church and sing with a choir directed by the best musical director in the world. I have lots of friends and two fantastic sisters. I’m healthy and active, and so is my husband. Yes, I’m blessed.
But you know what? I’m still going to call my doctor and make an appointment. And if any of you are suffering from S.A.D., I urge you to do so as well. Let’s not suffer in silence—because we’re not alone, although it feels that way sometimes. Depression makes you feel alone, and that’s why it’s so important to seek help.
Okay, moving on...thanks to all of you who voted for my cover for LILY OF THE SPRINGS. I'm pleased to announce I'm going for the one with the girl in shorts walking down the road. I really loved the other cover, too, but I feel this particular cover fits the concept of the book better. I appreciate all of you taking the time to give me your input. (I think I knew in my gut this was the cover I wanted because every time I got a vote for it, my heart soared. And when the other cover got a vote, I felt deflated. As it turned out, this cover got more votes than the other one.)
Congratulations to Wilma Frana, my November contest winner. Wilma, if you’re reading this, e-mail me at Carole@Bellacera.com with your address so I can send out your autographed book and jewelry. Everyone else: Stop by my website and enter my December contest. www.carolebellacera.com.
God Bless & Happy Holidays