Reflections on Winter Depression, Happiness and Leaving Tromso

On Easter Monday, the day after I got back from a week travelling around Denmark, I had the urge to do some spring cleaning. As in, throwing away 11 bags full of stuff I never needed anyway, and redecorating the flat with some keepsakes of the last few trips. 

Weirdly enough, when I went back to work that Tuesday I was feeling different than usual. I wasn't my usual self of moaning about lack of sleep. I was feeling uplifted and positive - and maybe even looked forward to getting back into a routine.

Now I'm not saying that spring cleaning was the reason for this. But I think that it made me realize that it is in fact spring, even if the snow in Tromso might suggest otherwise. The dreadful dark days of polar night have passed and soon, the last remnants of winter will melt, leaving the first flowers and green grass to show.

winter depression

I'm not talking about this very often but I suffer from winter depression and it's not made any easier by living in the Arctic and having to deal with polar night. I don't even think I was aware of the fact that winters pulled me down until I moved here - after all, I absolutely love snow!

After 2,5 years of living in the Arctic and three winters spent here, it's however safe to say that I cannot spend the rest of my life in a place which doesn't get any sunlight for 2 months. And I know what you're thinking right now: but there's the Midnight Sun in summer so you'll get plenty of sunshine for the winter!

I've heard this so many times before moving to the Arctic and actually convinced myself that this must be the locals' way of dealing with winter: soak up as much light as possible in the summer and hibernate during the winters. It seemed so easy.

Little did I know how naive this assumption was. The reality is that everyone reacts to polar night differently and while most locals might be perfectly used to it and don't experience any effects on their mood at all - for an expat from south of the Nordics, it can just be an extremely rough time. Especially so, if you already have a disposition to depression.

Now for me the case was clear already last summer. 2017 would be the year I moved. Both Simon and I got one year work contracts in jobs that aren't related to our degrees anyway, and our lease is up in the summer too.

The timing seemed perfect but for a long time, I was feeling like I failed.

It was my dream to move to the Arctic after all and I built a whole blog around this new life. How could I possibly move away from it without feeling like I failed?

winter depression

I don't know if the switch in my head turned with the arrival of spring but anyhow, it did. I realized that it doesn't matter what people think and whether I'd have to rebrand my blog. If it's the best for my health to relocate somewhere that doesn't experience polar night in winter and that actually offers a bigger chance of sunshine in the summer, then that's just what I'll do.

Cause it's 2017 and I don't have to live in the same place and have the same job and live the same life forever and ever and ever.

I'm allowed to grow and evolve and change my mind.

Does it annoy me when people tell me that I'm so lucky to live in this beautiful place and that they want to live here too? Not anymore. Partly because I know better but also because I've realized that even though I've been incredibly spoiled to live here for this long, it's perfectly fine to admit that life in the Arctic is not for me.

Of course, there'll always be someone who has to tell you in the comments that you're just negative and that life in Tromso really is the best thing you could ever imagine. Then again though, there'll also always be someone complaining that you only ever post pictures of Tromso when it's sunny and that in fact, the city can be quite dull.

The reality is somewhere in the middle. I certainly love the landscapes and nature around Tromso and life here has made me appreciate something as mundane as sunshine so much more! But gorgeous views aren't everything and I feel like there are so many places left to discover - in Scandinavia, the Nordics and even the Arctic - that being based in Tromso makes it difficult to explore in the long run. After all, we pretty much live in the middle of nowhere here.

winter depression

So no, Tromso is not perfect. No place in the world is. There'll always be something negative even about the most gorgeous place in the world, even if you're the only one who sees is that way, and THAT IS OKAY! You're allowed to seek for the one place to call home and despite what everyone might tell you, it's your journey and yours only!

It's okay to move from your hometown if you don't feel like you fit in and it's okay to move from a place that other people describe as magical, if life doesn't seem so magical to you. 

That doesn't mean that I don't appreciate the life I've had the chance to live up north these past few years - and it doesn't mean that I hate Tromso either. I believe that there's always a middle ground and that you can criticize something, even if you love it. Which means that I don't hate Norway just because I find Norwegian cuisine dull.

So I'm not leaving because I hate Tromso, or because I'm a negative person, or a spoiled millenial who doesn't know what she wants - I'm leaving because it's the right thing for me to do.

This has turned into quite a ramble but I guess what I wanted to say is this: I'll be moving away from Tromso this summer and as of right now, I have no idea where I'm headed - and it never felt as exciting and liberating as it does now, at the beginning of spring!

I feel like I've finally brushed off the last remnants of winter depression and I'm really looking forward to the bright season, to exploring new places, to creating a new home, to new opportunities, to making new memories and to starting a new chapter of my life. 

With or without Tromso, my heart will always belong up north so there'll always be nordic stories to tell! And I certainly hope you're interested to follow my journey.

Here's to the start of a new season!


What are you looking forward to this spring and summer? 


(PS: I've installed a new comment system that I hope you'll find user-friendly. If not, definitely let me know!)




BIG ANNOUNCEMENT: Did you know that Wanderful Wednesday is celebrating it's 1st birthday next month? A lot has happened since Lauren, Marcella, Isabel and I have decided to start a new link-up: I graduated uni, Marcella settled into life in Chile and Lauren totally fell in love with said country, while Isabel moved countries and got a baby! 

We're so grateful for everyone who participates each week and do our best to read all your posts! We started out to create a community of like-minded travel bloggers and I think we totally reached that goal! 

Anyway, we want to celebrate this day with you and would like YOU to send us your birthday greetings to showcase. The idea is that you take a picture of you and a sign with your birthday wishes (like "Happy 1st Birthday Wanderful Wednesday") and the town you live in - if you can feature a part of that place in the picture too, that would be awesome!

You can send the pictures to either Lauren, Marcella, Isabel or me on Facebook (you can find our profiles in the Wanderful Wednesday FB group) or just via email at Deadline is March 10th and we'll showcase your pictures on May 17th! 

My favourite of last week: Québec City: What to Do by With Love

Consider yourself a wanderer?! Well then, this Blog Hop is for you! 
Meet your hosts: Lauren of Lauren on Location, Van of Snow in Tromso, Isabel of The Sunny Side of This and Marcella of What a Wonderful World.

Here on Wanderful Wednesday we hope to promote an open and supportive community for like-minded bloggers- expats, travelers and all kinds of wanderers!

The linkup will take place every Wednesday at 8AM GMT.

Wanderful Wednesday Guidelines:

1. Link up a wanderful travel related post below! One per blogger per week please!

2. Spread the LOVE! Blog Hops are all about hopping around & getting to know others within the community! At the very least please try to comment on one other post before you go!

3. Let’s get Social! Really liked a post you read? Don’t be shy! Share your favorites on Social Media! You can use the hashtag: #wanderfulwednesday

4. Don’t forget to grab the button or link back to your wanderful hosts! Help us spread the word and let’s get others involved!