Darkness is Depressing…or Not!

When I was in my 20’s, I got anxious just thinking about winter coming with less daylight, cold and dreary days ahead. I believed I had SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) and the winter and lack of sun were the reason I felt mildly depressed during those months.

Then in November at the age of 28, I got engaged. As winter came, I got a bit nervous. It was as if I was waiting for winter, darkness and cold to do its thing to me. Yet, I didn’t get depressed that year. The following winter I was pregnant and gave birth to my first child and also didn’t experience a depressed mood. If you had asked me why I wasn’t depressed those winters, I would have said it was Hashem’s kindness that helped me ward off BIG BAD WINTER.

That got me curious though. If winter, darkness and cold are the cause of my depressed mood, then how was it possible that I wasn’t depressed for those couple of winters? Interesting question, no? It had never occurred to me before because I was so convinced that SAD had power over me. 

How often in our lives do we innocently believe something has power over us that doesn’t really have the power we give it: a relationship, a job, a child, a comment, a thought habit, an inconvenience, an illness, a past event, the weather? The only thing that can ever create a feeling inside of us is Thought in the moment (the guiding hand of G-d using the Divine gift of Thought moment to moment to allow us to experience life). 

True, there is a reality. Winter is here. The sun sets early. It is getting colder. But the only way I can experience a depressed mood about these things is if I have depressed thinking about darkness (that I probably don’t even see as Thought) flowing through me. My relationship to darkness, my attitude or opinion about winter, my perception of the cold, the decisions I make about why I feel what I feel…these are all THOUGHT taking different forms that I don’t always see as Thought in the moment. When I don’t see it, I blame winter, darkness and cold for why I feel what I feel, and I forget that I am resilient, able to handle life.

What a relief to know those things don’t have the power I’d given them all those years. My belief in SAD made it real for me every year and I didn’t know that was Thought in action. So too, your belief that someone, something or even the weather has a power to make you feel a certain way will make it real for you.

When we are gifted to see that our feelings and experiences are always only coming from Thought in the moment, this truth sets us free. Free from societal pressure, free from peer pressure, even free from our own internal pressure for perfection because all of these “pressures” are illusory.

The lights of Chanukah are a wonderful reminder to see past the illusion that darkness has any power over us.  Hashem echad. That is all there is. May this holiday season be filled with light, love and warmth (regardless of the outside physical world).

Ride The Wave

By Aviva Barnett, MSW

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