It’s been happening for years now. As summer winds down and we move into fall and winter, my mood plummets. I have a lot of valid reasons not to like fall and winter, and it’s easy to explain why I tend to get so depressed during this time of year.
I really hate being cold. I guess my thin southern blood just isn’t cut out for cold weather. Sure, 100 degrees with 100% humidity is uncomfortable, but being cold physically hurts. I don’t want to get out of bed, just burrow down as deep as possible under a pile of blankets. It’s depressing to think that the warm days are passing and the long winter is coming.
I’ve had a number of significant relationships die at years’ end. I was devastated when my very first girlfriend and I broke up during October. The first girl that I ever told I loved dumped me in November. Marriage number three ended, very badly, on December 26th. And my last marriage, which was the most significant of all ended the first week of last October. Fall and winter bring back the bad memories and the feelings of hurt and betrayal of lost love.
Death has dominated my winters as well. When I was 15, my Grandmother died just before Christmas. My older brother died just a few years ago the first week of January. My father, who has been gone now for over 12 years, became fatally ill on Christmas Eve. We knew then he was going to die, and a week later he passed away on New Years’ Day never having left the hospital. These are sad times, and every winter the sadness returns.
I’m sure there’s an element of Seasonal Affective Disorder in there somewhere too. The shorter days and the lack of sunlight have a definite impact on my energy level. Its dark when you get up, and when you come home from work. Even when you can be out during the day, the winter weather tends to be overcast and it’s too cold to spend time outdoors. All light becomes artificial, and there’s never enough natural sunlight.
Our weather this year has the process starting earlier than usual as it has been overcast and cooler than you’d expect for late August. It’s already starting to feel like fall and I can tell the depression is starting again. Even just the anticipation of the coming seasons is depressing. After all, it happens every year, why should this year be any different? With all the negatives that are associated with this time of year I have to expect to get depressed.
Or do I?
Sure, a lot of bad things have happened in my last five decades of winters. The fact is however, a lot of bad things have happened in spring and summer too. Likewise, there are a lot of good memories throughout all the seasons. I have come to believe that my winter depressions have become a self fulfilled prophesy. I’ve come to expect that every year is going to be a struggle and have allowed myself to dwell on the bad and use it as an excuse to embrace the darkness. Its winter, therefore I must be depressed.
But knowledge is power. I believe that I now have a better understanding of my illness and the triggers that drive it. I will take this awareness to break the cycle and reset my own expectations. I will accept that there are elements such as SAD that may require medications or special therapies. I will own this disease and take back this time of year. I’ve given up enough of my life without allowing myself to lose a forth of the year, just because I always have in the past. I’m not giving up any more.