Microcosm owners Joe Biel and Elly Blue bring you a workshop they presented at the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association regional trade show, about the importance of connecting your work to an audience and the vitality of putting books in boxes (and all of the various dangers and how to avoid them).
Feeling down more than usual in these grey (or white, if you’re buried in snow) winter days? It could be “SAD.”
With two mental health books coming out next month, and the grey days of Portland still coming and going, we’re talking with Dr. Faith and Set Sytes about Seasonal Affective Disorder, AND giving away free books!
So, you think you’ve got SAD.
First: Don’t Panic.
But also, don’t ignore it.
Seasonal Affective Disorder is a type of depression that ebbs and flows with the seasons, typically causing extra depression during the winter months. This is especially common for folks with mood disorders already, women, and folks who live further from the equator.
Winter is the big SAD season, though some do experience it during summertime (me, right here, for real!), and it can often take sufferers by surprise.
Set Sytes, author of How Not to Kill Yourself, says this about his experience with SAD:
“I often find things more difficult during the Winter months (which in Britain is 11 months of the year). I get much less daylight (although I’m better than I used to be on that, when a week could go where I wouldn’t see the sun), I’m always cold and without the motivation to move to warm up, and the weather is so miserable not only do I not want to go out but I’m not happy inside too. While hot weather can have its own reasons for lack of productivity, the cold months can encourage depressive symptoms and make you more interested in curling up in a blanket than getting anything done, especially if you’re worried about heating bills. It’s hard to engage your brain and be creative and productive when you’re cold, there’s little sunlight and you’ve been sleeping in in a conscious (or unconscious) attempt to hibernate through it all.”
In This Is Your Brain on Depression (coming Dec 2018), Dr. Faith defines it loosely as “winter blues thought to be caused by lack of sunlight.”
“When my brother left sunny Texas to go away to college in Boston, his SAD was horrible. He went from thinking snow was pretty and exotic to thinking snow was some kind of evil plan from the universe to repeatedly beat him in the face. The light box our mom sent him was stupendously helpful.” – This is Your Brain on Depression: Finding Your Path To Getting Better (zine version available here)
What to do about it?
When I asked about SAD, the first thing Dr. Faith noted was that too many people ignore the recurring symptoms: “If a tooth fell out of your mouth every February, you’d see the dentist and figure out why,” Dr. Faith points out. “S.A.D. should be taken just as seriously.”
“I often wear 5 layers indoors and sometimes include scarf gloves and hat in that! And my best is 7 outdoor layers, but then I’m strange and nobody else seems to do that) means you’re warmer but don’t have to spend as much on heating (and you’re more comfortable just sitting in one spot). It also means you can move around the house and maybe god forbid open a window for a few minutes without suddenly catching hypothermia. Worrying less about cold will relax your survival skills enough to hopefully think about more creative pursuits.Also, candles, candles, candles.”
“It sucks setting alarms for yourself but sometimes it’s worth encouraging your sleeping pattern to shift not necessarily to a “normal” time frame (who decides what normal is) but at least one where you get more sunlight in the day. Even if you’re more creative at night, it helps to be able to separate each day into both day and night, otherwise it just all becomes one big murky dark abyssal pointless mess and there becomes no sense in doing something at one time to another – and when that’s how you think, you end up never doing things at any time.”
It’s the edge of winter here in the pacific northwest, and in Portland that means wet, gray days that are chilly but not frigid, damp but not stormy. On these many gray days, I know how easily sadness can sneak up and creep in, so we’re giving away books, of course!
This time of year makes me think a lot about Seasonal Affective Disorder, and the careful line a person suffering from mental illness often has to tread to stay above it. SAD can mean a lot of different things to different people, but so often this time of year makes people feel extra blue, extra down, extra shitty; with depression, fear, anxiety, loneliness, and sadness all more likely to pile up on your shoulders like a miserable coat of fuck-it-alls. This is a line I often have to gently tread and have grown quite familiar with.
Wherever you are, we want to help you get through that shit. One way is with our March mental health books:
This is Your Brain on Anxiety shows you exactly what’s going on in your head when anxiety comes barrelling through, with down-to-earth breakdowns of the science behind it and practical tips to getting through it. Written in her signature style of swears, wit, and pop culture references, Dr. Faith gives you the tools to deal with, and perhaps even get over, your anxiety on your own terms.
How Not To Kill Yourself wants to keep you away from the spiraling hole of suicidal thoughts and get you back into the world, with tips, tricks, and pep talks to remind you that it’s worth it to keep getting up in the morning. With an introduction by Dr Faith, this survival guide is for anyone dealing with intense depression or suicidal ideation.
If you haven’t heard about these yet, here’s a few clips:
“The interesting thing here about anxiety as a stress response? The good thing? Anxiety means the body is still fighting back. This is fundamentally different from depression, which is essentially a wired response of learned helplessness.
Anxiety symptoms are active coping skills in the face of threat. The problem is only when the brain has decided that most everything is a threat.”
“Name That Bastard. Give your anxiety an actual persona to inhabit. Name it after a heinous ex, a shitty grade school teacher, or Kim Jong-un. Create a whole character for your anxiety. Anxiety feels so nebulous that giving yourself someone to battle really helps. Then you can have convos with Donald Trump’s Epic Hair Swirl (or whomever, but personally I think all panic attacks should be named after that hair) whenever it comes calling. You can focus on that entity the way you would an actual person that was threatening you in a real-world situation. You can negotiate, you can yell back, you can lock it in a box. Whatever works.”
–This Is Your Brain on Anxiety: What Happens and What Helps, by Dr. Faith G. Harper, PhD…
“Depression is a swamp because it subtly evolves, it changes. It’s a delicately balanced ecosystem, where every little thing affects something else. Crowding trees and vines and darkness obscure what else might be out there. It seems endless, but it’s not. It seems abjectly awful, but it isn’t. There’s life in a swamp. There’s hope. It’s small and it’s wild, and it’s as apt to run away from you as it is to approach you, but it’s there. It’s real.”
“Don’t let the world win.
Don’t let it keep robbing great people and dumping them in the bin of history.
We can put a stop to it. We can be the first to say NO!—or better yet, FUCK OFF!
Stand tall, stand straight, and tell the world where to go. This is one soul it’s not going to crush. You are stronger than that. You can FIGHT BACK.”
–How Not To Kill Yourself: A Survival Guide for Imaginative Pessimists, by Set Sytes & Dr. Faith Harper
To celebrate these rad books being officially released next month, I’m giving away 10 packs of How Now To Kill Yourself and This is Your Brain on Anxiety: two books that take common problems and gives you as much advice as possible to kick that shit to the curb!
AND (because it’s our fricking 22nd birthday, y’all!) I’ll be adding one random Microcosm backlist title on health, wellness, DIY or taking care of yourself to each bundle (possibilities listed below). I’m calling these Anti-SAD Packs, because we hope they help get you through the heavy winter season. Enter below, or check out the books webpages by clicking any images in this post.
Our test giveaway is over, and the results are in! Winners have been contacted and the books go out tomorrow.
Thanks so much to everyone who entered — and everyone who gave feedback!
We like this Rafflecopter platform and will try it out a few more times.
Interested in more giveaways?
This month, slogging through prime Seasonal Affective Disorder season, we’re raising our spirits (and hopefully yours) by celebrating Microcosm’s 22nd year with a shit ton of giveaways!
To start off, Monday we’re going to be giving away “SAD Packs”, featuring our March mental health releases, This is Your Brain on Anxiety: What Happens & What Helps and How Not To Kill Yourself: A Survival Guide For Imaginative Pessimists, so check back here then to enter.
After that, watch out for giveaways here and on our other Social Medias for a chance at more brand new books, past ARCs, and cool swag.
Stay awesome (and strong)!