I have seasonal depression. I have seasonal depression. I have seasonal depression. I keep chanting this to myself as the sun creeps behind the horizon more quickly. I keep chanting this to myself as the leaves change color and the air grows chilly; every aspect of nature flipping its seasonal switch to fall. Fall is the calm before the storm for me. It envelops me, takes me in and caresses my every need. I stock up on my fuzzy blankets, pumpkin spice lattes, and have that extra piece of pumpkin pie, because I know that soon all the comforts of fall will turn into the harsh realities of winter.
Depression doesn’t have a start and end date. I’m not automatically depressed the minute winter begins and ecstatic on May Day. However, I know that when the seasons change, and the coldness is there every day, the sadness somehow sneaks its way into my mindset. I lose my bubbly personality and take on that of a drone, moving through each and every day sluggishly, wishing for sleep, and sometimes not sleeping at all. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), the name of this affliction, “Is a type of depression that follows the seasons. The most common type of SAD is called winter depression. It usually begins in late fall or early winter and normal mood returns in summer.”
In years prior, I had no idea what was “wrong” with me, I didn’t understand what I was going through. I had no idea why once my surroundings started graying, my emotions were unpredictable, tugging me in every negative direction, even when I thought I was finally “back to normal”. I had no idea why I would get so overwhelmed over minuscule things, and find myself falling deeper and deeper into this pit of self-hatred. Up until my junior year of high school, I thought depression was a single entity. I didn’t know there were different types of depression, and I surely did not believe that was what I was experiencing. Circumstances took a toll on me junior year, and my change in persona was apparent to everyone around me. A friend of mine took a stand for me and put me back in contact with a social worker at school.
Up until this year, I didn’t have the right coping mechanisms because I didn’t know that I was dealing with an actual illness. Depression. All I knew was what I felt. Branding a name to everything bothered me, but knowing there was a healthy way to lessen the anxiety I felt throughout the season settled my worries.
I’ve recently been preparing myself — physically, mentally, and emotionally — for this winter ahead.
I keep myself active. I run. I run to release my stressors and lessen the blow of my anxiety. I run to distract myself from the problems around me and narrow in on the now; the sound of my feet shuffling across pavement, the sight of the changing leaves around me, colors blurring my vision of the future.
I journal. I write my thoughts out. This helps keep me from letting them strangle and consume me. It also helps me process every thought, step by step. I can sift through the negative thoughts, and try and focus on thoughts that relate to the day ahead. See, I’m the type of person who dwells on things that may have happened weeks ago, still feeling the embarrassment rise to a rosy color on my cheeks. But journaling, journaling helps me express these feelings by pouring them onto a page, no questions asked.
This will be my first winter taking a healthy stand against my disorder, taking precautions and really focusing on getting through these months, day by day. I’m more determined than ever to wake up in the mornings ready for the day ahead, ready to tackle whatever comes my way, and ready to hold on to my vibrant, bubbly personality.