The Good, The Bad, The Seasonal Affective

Even though September 22 is the official first day of fall, I’ve always considered October to be the real start of fall, but I’ve always had a love-hate relationship with Fall.

I love it because fall is a good reminder that we are allowed to shed the things that don’t serve us. We are allowed to let go of the dead. We are allowed to let go of the toxic relationships. We are allowed to let go of our traumas. We are allowed to let go of the past. We don’t have to sit in those places and let them make us sick. I love the fall colors. I love watching the leaves turn and then pile up in my yard. I love hearing them crunch under my feet on a trail walk. I love the way the earth smells right before it goes into hibernation. I love the smell of fire on a flannel shirt after sitting outside watching the flames in the fire pit. There are so many things to love about fall. And then there’s the flip side of it.

As much as I love all those things, Fall is also the time where I usually slip into my seasonal depression. It creeps in the same way four shots of tequila used to. One minute I feel fine, then I’m fuzzy for a second and then BAM! Full blown Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). This is usually followed by long naps, followed by much longer naps, followed by not getting out of the bed at all except to work and shit. The worst part about SAD is that, like anxiety, it can be really hard to explain to people what is happening to you. For most people, shorter days are just something that normal people complain about when fall and winter roll around. For me, the shorter days are like standing on a 10 story ledge while being afraid of heights. The fear of knowing what is coming is almost worse than the actual disorder. There is no prescription for this. You can’t take a pill and be healed. It’s just one of those things you have to deal with like acne when you’re 13.

Or at least that’s what I thought.

This is the first year that I am walking into fall with excitement. I am not scared that I will lay down to take a nap and never get up. I am not scared that the things that I enjoy about fall will turn into a blur of days with my head under the pillow depressed for no reason.

I found that I can deal with it one day at a time. The same way we deal with sobriety in my house. Things that I think have helped me get to this point are definitely quitting drinking. Alcohol is a depressant anyway, I don’t know in what world I thought alcohol was the cure. After not drinking for 2+ years, I think something in my brain has healed. Another thing that helped me get to this point is changing my diet. While my nutrition is not perfect, I don’t eat fast food (except Taco Bell), I stay away from most processed foods, and I’ve added way more fresh fruits and veggies into my daily menu. I’m convinced this has helped. Personal development is another thing that has helped me tremendously. Reading even a few pages a day of something uplifting, nonfiction, inspirational, can be a total life changer. Also, the working out. If you follow me on Instagram (@rouletteweekend) you know that I always post workout stuff. It’s not because I’m obsessed. It’s because I cannot believe how good I feel after a workout, mentally and physically. It’s because it saved my life.

Truth be told, I had a turning point September of last year. I didn’t feel like I had a purpose anymore. My youngest of three had moved out. I was no longer a “mom.” Sure, I still had the title, but I didn’t have the job. I felt like I had no purpose. No meaning. I spent my whole life parenting and did not create a career. I created a life for my kids, but without them, it all seemed pointless. I was leaving my house. I turned the corner and got to the stop sign. As I sat there, looking at the city bus that was getting ready to pass in front of me, this thought popped into my head. “If I pulled out right now, I just wouldn’t exist anymore.” It wasn’t that I was suicidal. I didn’t want to die. I just felt insignificant. That same thing happened to me twice that month. There was nothing stressful going on. My life was fine. Maybe even great. I just didn’t feel like I had a purpose anymore.

That day or a few days after, I joined a wellness group. Not a gym. A group of women who encourage each other and help each other get through the hard stuff. Imagine, women who are not in competition with each other. Sounds like a dream, right? Well, I found it. It exists. And I didn’t even need a treasure map to get there. And it gave me all the tools I am planning on using to make it through this SAD season. I cannot say that I am cured of this. On days when the sky is cloudy, my mind is too. But I have more tools in the tool box this year and I have a network of women with extra tools just in case I need them.

And I’m grateful.

If you are part of that group, and you know you are, thank you! I don’t say it near enough, but you saved my life!

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