I recently have had to take up my daily winter walks again. A brisk daily 30 minute walk was prescribed by my GP 12 months ago as a way of combatting Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). The rules he gave me were simple – it must be at least 30 minutes, but preferably longer; it must be brisk; it must be in daylight; and as far as possible it must be done daily.
I resisted, at first. It wasn’t what I expected him to say. And I wondered how I would fit it in, where I could go, what good it would do. I think I wanted a simpler fix than having to carve time in my schedule to walk every day.
But, as my GP wisely pointed out, anti depressants can take around 6-8 weeks to start working. And, most damning of all, I have reacted really badly to every sort of anti depressant I have ever tried.
I am not against tablets by any means. I think this time last year, if my GP had said to me, ‘these pills will fix things’ I would have taken them. But no, he wanted me to go for a walk. You can imagine the initial resistance.
But, to my astonishment, walking worked. We live in a village with plenty of woodland roundabout, and there are lots of pathways to explore. And I have a caring and loving husband who persuades and cajoles me to go take my walks. And back last year, within a couple of weeks I was feeling much better – back to my old self.
I didn’t recognise the signs, earlier this week, that my walks needed to start again. I just wanted to hide from the world. But as my husband said, hiding from the news is one thing, hiding from everything is quite, quite different. He persuaded me to get out from my comfortable pit of bed, duvet and maudlin thoughts and go embrace the frost and the sunshine. And I am so glad he did.
There is nothing I can do to make the world a happier place, not right now. The problems are too big and I feel too frail. But there are things I can do to make me a happier person, things which may in time remove that frailty.
Now, please excuse me. I need to get my coat and wellies.