I’ve learned over the past year that one of the most important things to managing my illness is self-awareness and proactive reactions. Medications and therapy are critical, true, but being able to see a swing coming and doing something about it before it gets too bad can head off a lot of trouble. That’s my opinion anyway… I think I’m about to put that into practice.
There’s a change coming.
This summer has absolutely flown by. Tomorrow is August 1st, and I can feel the summer slipping away. June and July have just been a blur, over with way too soon. Some of that is my own fault though. I’ve been living for the weekends; pushing through the workweek just so I could enjoy the time off. My job is just a job and not a career. I have no investment other than getting a paycheck. So I count the hours each day and count down to the end of the week. Thinking about it that way, there’s only been 8 weekends; no wonder it’s passed so quickly.
So what does that have to do with anything?
Even though it’s premature, I do feel the approaching fall. The days are still long, but they are getting shorter. A month ago the sun was up by the time I got out of bed; now it’s dark until just before I leave for work. It’s been an unusually cool summer this year, and for July it’s been almost chilly when I go out on my deck for morning coffee. Normally our weather here is hot; there have been years where it didn’t get below 90 degrees Fahrenheit (32 Celsius). This year however, there’s only been a handful of days where it got over 90 degrees. It’s abnormal, but it feels like fall is just around the corner. I actually saw a gaggle of geese flying in formation like they were starting their migration south. It feels like summer is already over.
And the fall season can be really bad.
Last fall I had one of the worst depressions I’ve had in years. The year before that wasn’t much better, and I’ve spent time in a mental hospital both years. There were a lot of factors that fed into the depressions, but it’s always been part of my cycles. And with the feeling of the coming fall I sense my mood slipping.
The last couple of years I’ve lost important relationships in the fall. Two years ago the marriage I believed would last forever ended abruptly and catastrophic. That loss was immense, and even though I was already in a depression, it really devastated my mood. Last year another relationship that really meant a lot to me also ended. True, I was also already depressed; in fact that was probably the biggest factor to the end. But it still contributed to a really bad time. I’m in a relationship now, and already see it winding down. It’s been more of a casual relationship, and it won’t be the end of the world by any means when it ends. It’s just another ending. Plus, I think she cares more for me than I do for her, and it makes me feel bad that I know she’s going to be hurt.
As I’ve gotten older, I tolerate the cold less and less. I used to enjoy the winter months, but now being cold is miserable. I can’t keep my house warm enough. The lack of sunshine is a huge problem. I know I have Seasonal Affective Disorder, and just knowing that the short days are coming drags my mood down.
There are other signs too. I’m usually OCD about keeping my house clean, but lately I’ve had two or three days of dirty dishes accumulated before I take the time to wash them. I haven’t been making my bed up every morning, which is unheard of. I’m wearing jeans and knit shirts to work, and I’ve always been fastidious about my appearance. I only shave every two or three days, even on work days. These are not good indicators, but at least I’ve noticed them.
All in all, I really have no reason to be depressed. There is nothing really bad happening in my life. I’m gainfully employed in a horrible job market. I’m paying my bills and have enough left over to maintain a social life. I’ve cut out the toxic friendships and embraced my healthy ones. I’ve started back with some enjoyable activities like Golf and Music. I haven’t really had any major mood swings since last October; it feels like I’m finally gaining some semblance of control over the illness. There’s really no reason to be depressed.
Yet the depression is coming; I can feel it.
But this year I think it’s going to be different. Forewarned is forearmed. It seems like in the past the depression has snuck up on me; I didn’t really notice a change until it was too late. But hopefully this year that won’t happen. I do see it coming, and I have the chance to do something about it now. I already know that minor adjustments to my medications can have an almost instantaneous difference. It doesn’t take much either; just a slight increase in my anti depressant. I don’t even change my mood stabilizer. I’ve already started working on the down feelings with my Therapist. I try to catch the negative thinking and turn it into something positive before it becomes overwhelming. I’ve still got work to do to keep my house up and stay well groomed, but I have a goal with measurable results.
I know, I’m very premature in my dread of fall and all the bad associations that go along with it. It seems late in the year, but it IS only the first of August. There is still plenty of summer left. I’m borrowing trouble worrying about things that haven’t happened yet. If I’m not careful, this apprehension will become a self-fulfilling prophesy. But only if I let it. And I’m not going to let it.
Not this year.