For the last couple of decades I've been under the impression that I possess a tendency toward cyclical depression, otherwise known as Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD.
The proof of this would be a tendency toward winter hibernation, and a sort of poignant despondency around my birthday. Which, if you recall, is also the anniversary of my terminal cancer diagnosis and (forevermore) the usual and expected time for me to trudge back to the specialty clinics for more treatment and evaluation.
It is true that in the past, I have been in a Very Bad Mood throughout the first six weeks of each new year. Anticipating the catastrophe never made a difference, because there wasn't anything to do about it. I couldn't conjure up a solution, just like I can't hope for a permanent cancer cure.
Except apparently I could make my life feel a whole lot better: all I needed was enough money.
I have finally and officially clawed my way out of poverty. Desperation and disorder have vanished, to be replaced by . . . not luxury, not at all. I have something better: stability.
This was the first year I've lived in a truly warm house. I own a new winter coat and gloves. I was able to pick and choose specialists, and make judicious decisions about timing the appointments. I have a car for the post-operative days when it is too difficult to face public transit. I have an extra £35 in my pocket to buy salve that makes the scars feel better. I can order food, or eat in restaurants, when I am too sick to cook.
Critically, I can do all of this without shorting myself or my children in other ways. I don't have to choose between utilities and dentistry. I don't have to ignore one bill to pay another, or engage in bizarre machinations, or worry, or wonder.
I spent forty years thinking I had SAD when really the diagnosis was My Life Fucking Sucks Disorder.
The new knowledge is so much more useful, because there is a remedy, and it doesn't require forbidden sunlight.
Money might not buy happiness. But it can be used to acquire shelter, food, medicine, and all the little necessities and treats that I never even knew I could wish for. Understanding the ways that poverty distorted my life inspires a deep and abiding rage, but that is a productive emotion. I am angry - but I'm alive, and I'm still working.
I haven't fully recovered from the recent cancer therapy, but this year I'm not depressed. Instead I feel. . . cautiously optimistic.
Nowadays my life doesn't suck - in fact, it is amazing.