Michigan March Sadness: What Happens to Our Energy This Time of Year?
As Bo Burnham once said, "How we feeling out there tonight? Yeah, I am not feeling good."
While we can chuckle, it seems like I have been seeing more and more people opening up about how they are struggling with their mental health this month than any others. However, it's not just that we're struggling but one of the most common symptoms among my fellow Michiganders is the feeling of being completely numb and feeling like we're just going through the motions...now why is that?
Why March is a Hard Month for Me, Personally
For many people, a certain time of the year can stir up a lot of unwanted emotions. Maybe it's a traumatic anniversary, something you thought you had healed from only to be reminded of it, or maybe your body remembers even if your brain didn't realize.
My problem with March started in 2018. It's a long, painful story but, in short, we found out our neighbor and (former) friend was a pedophile, he went on the run from the police for about a week, I thought he (or someone else) was going to come after me, and he ended up "un-alive-ing" himself.
It took a lot of work, tears and therapy to move on but every year, I think it won't affect me anymore but from about March 20th on, I find myself in a funk every time.
This, of course, was only made worse when in 2021 my grandfather passed away on March 30th.
See Related: An Open Letter To Anyone Who Has Lost A Grandparent
I tell you all of this to illustrate my reasons for that "numbness" I've been feeling and, I guess, why I was surprised other people experience it too. We all have different reasons for feeling the way we do sometimes, but what is it about March?
Could "March Sadness" Be the Lingering Effects of Seasonal Affective Disorder?
As the weather begins a disjointed shift into spring, we see nature recover and ourselves too. If you think about it, we're all just houseplants with more complicated emotions because those few glimpses of sunshine are the ultimate "reset" button.
If you don't know about seasonal affective disorder, it is defined by Mayo Clinic as "a type of depression that's related to changes in seasons — SAD begins and ends at about the same times every year." It's most likely to occur in the winter months and most people start to feel better in the spring.
Could our numbness and lack of energy in March just be our bodies and brains struggling to transition out of those "SAD" symptoms?
Michigan's March Weather Makes Recovering From Winter Challenging Every Year
March, arguably, should not be considered a "spring" month anymore. It creates such a false sense of hope, cloaked behind a few days above 50 degrees, followed by bitter cold mornings, scattered snowflakes or, like last week, an entire week of clouds and rain.
March is Mother Nature's winter victory lap and I think that not only has an effect on our physical health (oh hello, allergies) but our mental health as well. If we're thinking in terms of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), it would make sense that the constant back-and-forth would be exhausting.
Part of it too, I think, is we get so excited finally seeing the sun. Feeling the warmth on our skin, we get almost too ambitious. We just want to get out, get all the things done and get moving again from or winter grogginess...only for a freezing rain day to stomp on that joy.
We get discouraged, maybe we even get overwhelmed and at the end of the day, it's exhausting constantly going back and forth from feeling normal, to sad, to warm, to cold, to busy, to lazy, to trying to convince ourselves we're fine.
What Helps in Times of Emotional Numbness?
Now, we are not experts and we are not out to diagnose but if you do think there is something deeper going on when you get that "numb" feeling, never feel ashamed to reach out for professional help.
"Emotional numbness, also known as affective blunting, means that a person is unable to experience emotions," says Medical News Today. "Alternatively, they may feel as though they are cut off from their own emotions."
If you experience things like feeling detached from the world, feeling a disconnect between your body vs. your thoughts, having a distorted sense of time, or reduced reactions to emotions and physical signals, these are all symptoms of "emotional numbness."
Now, if persistent, this could be a sign of further mental health disorder(s). However if it is something that can normally pass, things like getting some physical activity in, eating better, sleeping better, identifying what triggers these feelings and adjusting around them or doing things to alleviate stress help.
For me, it's doing at least one kind thing for myself in those moments, maybe it's to spark joy and maybe it's just to spark...anything...still. It can be as small as your favorite candy at the grocery store checkout, using your favorite mug for your morning coffee, dance around the kitchen with music blaring, baking, etc. Whatever it is, give yourself some kindness and grace in these moments.
Here's a song that's been helping me put a finger on what's going on and also dance/scream-sing through it:
All in all, March can entirely F-off...or at least just be over after St. Patrick's Day.
Now, take a breath, know you are loved, appreciated and this feeling will pass. Get some coffee, maybe a relaxing tea blend, and here are some memes that will make you laugh or at least just feel something. Hang in there
LOOK: 50 famous memes and what they mean