Here it comes. It’s time for my annual Fall Depression. It’s happened every year for as long as I can remember. Oh, I’m not depressed…yet. But I definitely see signs that it could be coming. So it’s time to put up my defenses and start the battle.
Fall is certainly on the way. The days are noticeably shorter, and it’s back to being dark when I leave for work. The high temperatures for the weekend are forecast to be in the mid 70’s (Mid 20’s Celsius) I even have a few leaves falling off my dogwood tree. This summer has been cool and wet here, and we never really had the hot, dry days that we usually have. Not getting enough sun is not good. Summer is when I usually recharge my batteries. I tend to have a vitamin D deficiency anyway, and without the sun it’s hard to keep up with over the counter supplements.
But it’s more than just the seasonal affective disorder that drives me down. It’s the anticipation of what’s to come. Even worse than fall, I really dread the winters. I detest being cold. Even if the days are sunny, I can’t really spend any time outside to suck it up. And the really short days are completely miserable.
But again, it’s more than the weather.
I have a lot of bad memories of events that have happened in the fall and winter. It seems like relationships ending, problems with work, and deaths of loved ones always occur during this time of year. I know; the past is the past and shouldn’t have anything to do with the future. But the memories come, and the negative emotions return.
And here it comes.
The signs are there. My energy level is starting to wane. I get tired so easily, and spend a lot more time napping during the day. This is especially true on the weekends, where I can sometimes spend more time lying down than not. By the time I get home from work each day, I’m exhausted! Interest in, well, pretty much anything goes away too. Activities that I usually enjoy just aren’t appealing. Motivation to start anything is very difficult to find. I just don’t care. It was difficult enough his summer drumming up the energy to get involved in much; it’s even more so now.
The patience and tolerance is getting shorter. I catch myself having little outburst over the dumbest things. My reactions are nothing that is totally inappropriate or disturbing, but much quicker than usual. Working with the public as I do, I get really annoyed at the stupidity of my customers. This didn’t bother me before, but now I can get pissed off at the drop of a hat. Don’t even get me started on the way people drive! If you are being passed on the right on the freeway, you are in the wrong lane! Can’t you see you’re impeding traffic? Idiots.
But the mood is down in general. At best you could call it grumpy, but really it’s just sad and blue. My thoughts are turning negative and defeatist. The deep sighs are coming more and more often. I’m really upset about my work. In the past, I’ve had powerful and meaningful positions. There has been complete responsibility for the success of my department; and often the entire company. A friend of mine asked me to review a proposal they were preparing for a new contract, and as I went through it and found improvements I was reminded just how good I used to be. That’s not bragging, it’s just a fact. I produced results. My employees were well taken care of, and mentored to become more successful at their jobs and as people. I could make a difference. Now? I just have a job, not a career. There are 20 or so others who are doing the exact same thing I do, and I’m only responsible for my own work. I have no influence or decision making. I’m glad I’m working, but I feel I’m wasted.
There are little panic attacks hitting now. They are nothing major or debilitating as they can sometimes be, but enough to be uncomfortable. My chest gets tight, breathing becomes more difficult, and I feel the need to run away. It’s controllable, but unmistakable. That hasn’t happened in quite a while.
So it’s time to put on my armor and prepare to do battle.
I am determined to win this time. Forewarned is forearmed, and I know what’s coming. Working hard with my therapy I’ve been able to develop new skills, and have new tools with which to fight. I DO recognize the signs, and in time to do something productive about it.
Now what can I do?
My energy level is down, but it’s not gone. Exercise is known to keep serotonin levels up. The lack of which is part of the root cause of a clinical depression. I can choose to put the effort in to get active. Once the routine is established, it becomes easier to keep it going. Choosing a positive attitude is possible too, if there is awareness. I can keep my thinking active, and force myself to look at the good instead of embracing the bad. It’s a matter of stopping, reflecting and reminding myself that it’s really not so bad. I know that there are outside forces that are generating some of these unhealthy feelings. I also know that the memories of bad experiences in the past are also emphasized by the underlying illness. The reasons for being depressed are not natural, and therefore can be offset if only I can keep recognizing and accepting that fact. What I’m feeling really isn’t so bad; it’s a disease. The just released DSM-V documents a ‘seasonal cycle’ that affects Bipolar I and II. Aside from Seasonal Affective Disorder, just being bipolar can be and is affected by season. I’ve learned how to fight and avoid manic episodes. I know I can prevail over the depression.
I know I can. And I will.