McKenzie Avenue on Wednesday, February 13, 2019.

This week, as I scrolled through the endless Instagram photos of friends and fellow UVic students having a blast during their impromptu snow holiday, I couldn’t help feel that I was the only person who saw the weather forecast and was filled with a deep sense of dread. Don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of things I love about the snow. I love how it makes the world a little bit brighter – how the children stay out a little later in the moonlight and the child within each adult seizes the opportunity to spring to life. But even as I looked around at the snowmen lining the residential streets and admired the massive snowball that some exuberant students made on the quad, all I could think about was how deeply I hoped for it to be melted away as soon as possible.

For me, the snow caused a spike in my anxiety, the likes of which I haven’t experienced in months. It added a new layer (no pun intended) of things to stress about. While others celebrated the cancellation of classes, I could think only of the consequences. It was as if I could feel myself falling behind, being crushed under the weight of the revised schedules, postponed events, and cancelled work shifts that I really needed the money from. What was even worse was that my anxiety didn’t go away when campus reopened; it got worse.

Even though the world of UVic was expected to be back to normal, my world still felt like chaos. Getting to campus was a nightmare. The sidewalks remained covered in snow and ice, blocked in by three feet of snow piled up from the snowploughs that went over the roads. Getting on and off of buses required climbing up and down snowbanks, usually sinking knee-deep into the snow in the process. I can only imagine what this must have been like for those who are less able-bodied than I am. Salt seemed to be used sparingly, only in high-traffic areas on and off campus. Just standing outside, looking down the road I needed to traverse filled me with panic.


The extent of the ploughing at most of the bus stops along McKenzie. Appreciated but minimally helpful.

I was so overwhelmed that I shut down. I didn’t want to leave the house. I didn’t attend class, cancelled a rehearsal for an important theatre project I am directing, and had to miss work. And, as a result, I was filled with guilt. I felt guilty for having poor mental health, weak for not being able to deal with it like the rest of the world was, and frustrated with myself for abandoning my responsibilities. The combination of stress, anxiety, and the crippling fear of what the consequences would be for choosing to stay home overwhelmed me to the point where I couldn’t bring myself to leave my dark bedroom. The world no longer felt brighter, and I no longer felt the childhood joy at the sight of the flurries falling from the sky. I felt, for lack of better word, frozen.

But, as it always does, the anxiety passed. I emerged from my bed this morning feeling a little bit lighter. I took a deep breath, gave my partner a big hug and thanked him for being there for me as I reduced myself to a lump in the bed on Valentine’s Day, and I assessed the damage. With the anxiety cleared like the snow from a windshield, I could now look forward, check my blind spots, and realize that – despite the storm of yesterday – it was a relatively sunny day. And, like the snow piled up in the driveway, I could shovel away the issues that had overwhelmed me all week with relative ease. And, because keeping the roads safe is a community endeavour, I asked for help.

I reached out to those who I felt like I had let down, and they were more than happy to help me with everything from rescheduling rehearsal hours to rescheduling work shifts. Nobody was angry. Nobody was disappointed. Those feelings towards me had been coming solely from myself. 

Now, I look out the window at the snow, melting slowly but surely, and I smile at the nature of weather. It comes, it shapes the world around it, brings with it childhood joy, panic, melancholy, contempt or content. Then, like all things, it goes. It changes. I see the melting snow today as a reminder that, no matter how bad the situation or how heavy the burden feels on my shoulders, this too shall pass. And it will for you, too.

A snowman one of my friends made with their roommates. I’m told his name is Elephuncle the Clown.

The views expressed in this blog are my own, and do not necessarily reflect the policies or views of the University of Victoria. I monitor posts and comments to ensure all content complies with the University of Victoria Guidelines on Blogging.