It may be due to our plague-ridden Christmas/ New Year and ingesting a cocktail of heavy-duty antibiotics and foreign over-the-counter-medication which have left me looking for the nearest cliff to jump off. A bit of a challenge in The Netherlands
Like the rest of my family, my body has finally surrendered to the onslaught of bacteria and I have pneumonia. At least it is an illness no-one else has had. I do not have to argue the severity of my symptoms over theirs, I own this.
The worse part, other than the obvious, has been an inability to read, watch television, spend time on my lap-top or luxuriate in any of the guilty pleasures you look forward to enjoying when you’re sick. Even having a conversation has been exhausting. It has been rather grim.
I will not bore you with the medical whys and wherefores of the past week or so – there is nothing to be gained by discussing the weird and wonderful workings of the Dutch health system.
Let’s just say that a bollocking by our stand-in doctor telling me I should have seen someone at least a week earlier did not go down too well. Admonishment from the doctor was a bit rich as her general mode of medical diagnosis is to send you home to ‘see how it goes’. You’d think she’d be pleased I’d already skipped the first appointment.
Having spent a week in social, intellectual and emotional isolation feeling totally abandoned, tearful and a having strange craving to eat worms, I now recognise that my malaise, although health related to a degree, has more to do with the January Blues.
Let’s face it, it is the most awful of the twelve months if you’re living in the northern hemisphere and has no redeeming features whatsoever. As I write the rain is lashing the windows, the wind is howling and screeching like some demented banshee and it’s dark out there, although it’s only eleven o’clock in the morning.
The Netherlands definitely has more shades of grey in its meteorological repertoire than any paint catalogue I know. Add snow and this monochromatic landscape has to be the most depressing of anywhere I’ve ever known. No wonder Van Gogh cut off his ear and packed off to France. Maybe he got fed up of the howling wind and limited palette of January too.
January Blues it is then, and has to be endured. It’s a month where your mental, physical and emotional strength will be tested and one’s ability to overcome the dreary and dire will define how you face the rest of the year. No pressure there then.
In the past I have prepared for this annual nightmare, galvanised into arranging social engagements for January and February to deflect winter and look forward to the warmth and extra daylight of the spring.
So far this year getting out of bed has been a major triumph. This morning, though, I have felt the faintest stirrings of rebellion and the gentle whisper of defiance caressing the cobwebs of inertia and depression.
The cause of this change in mental attitude?
One photograph yet so many memories behind it came flooding back. Friendship, laughter, and most of all fun, whatever else might be falling apart around us. These were the people, along with other dear friends, who walked beside me before, during and after Katrina. These steel magnolias would not be impressed by my appalling lapse in standards just because it’s January.
Qu-hite simp-lay this is no wh-ay a sou-thern lay-day should be be-hav-ing… ev-ah.
Scarlett O’Hara would be horrified and ladies, you are absolutely right.
The rain is slowing and the clouds are slightly (only slightly) less gray, but I will listen to the southern blood which still sings so sweetly in my veins. The make-up will go on, the hair will be done and the perfect smile will be placed just so.
My heart is warmed by thoughts of the blue skies and the wafting breeze of the Deep South, but most of all by the grit of my southern girlfriends, ready to face whatever life throws their way, with perfect lipstick and exquisite manners. It is time to move on, reconnect with everyone and let the sun shine in on a new year.
I will not allow the ravages of a north European January day to drag me down into its gloomy and depressing depths.