Though I enjoy so much about fall (cooler temps, creepy shows, pumpkin seeds, warm drinks, wearing layers, the colors, etc. etc. you know the drill), it’s a hard time of year for people with mood disorders.
- It’s a time of change for many. I’m a teacher part-time and a full-time mother, so fall brings big changes. When you have a mood disorder changes might seem thrilling and even fun during manic stages, but the reality of the change quickly slides into lows. I miss my children, the longer sleep schedule, the unhurried pace. Like any parent, I grew frustrated by the constant company and endless messes summer brings, and it as a hard summer otherwise for family losses, so I thought fall might bring some relief. And it has, but, again, the change is hard for my broken brain. I’ve felt lack luster and drawn lately. I’m trying to find joys in little hikes, but my brain slogs and my anxiety spikes at weird times.
- I like cold weather. My yard prefers the rain, and I like running in it. I don’t mind wearing multiple sweaters. But living in the PNW can be hard for even the most die-hard rain lover. People with mood disorders tend to be a little more sensitive to this. It’s not even really that fall-like here, yet, but my body is so tired. I took a deep breath and caught the chilled, composty, damp fall smell and my heart loved it. But my body has yet to really catch up with that love.
- More alone time physically and more internet time=BLAH. Let’s face it, people with mood disorders aren’t the only ones moody right now. It’s political season, it’s beginning to get dreary out, and people are touchy online during the best of times. I truly think the combination of more solitary time at home and the general grumpiness of social media exacerbates my mood disorder considerably. I should stay off more. But I probably won’t. I should be writing, but my head is so…duh.
So what do we do? What do I do about these stages? In the past, I drank until I was numb because I thought numb was better than sad. That didn’t go over well because I have a hard, if not impossible time, stopping. And numb eventually comes back around to depressed. Now, I let it be. I allow myself to understand that I’m not feeling top notch. I allow myself more time to get ready, but I get ready. I put on clean clothing even when I don’t feel like it. I try not to give into sugar cravings that will leave me even more crashed. I try to hike, walk or stagger around in my dying garden. I list the things I love even though I cannot muster happy:
- My husband. The way his face is so grumpy when he sleeps. The way he always kisses me before he leaves, even though I’m mostly comatose.
- My kids. The way they are always happy to see me when they wake up. The funny way they see the world, so individual and so new. The way they melt into me when they come home.
- My animals. The way my dog always waits for me to open my car door after I drop the kids off at school, then just puts his muzzle in my lap so I’ll pet his ears. The way he stands in front of me when he wants love. The way my chickens stop right under my hand when I feed them in the morning, so that I’ll pet them while I fill their water and food. The way they follow me when I’m outside, quietly clucking in my direction.
- My Creator/Creation. The way every season has a distinct, unnameable smell. The way my flowers know when to sleep. The migration of the geese and ducks over the bay. The circling eagle diving for the last of the year’s salmon. The smell of fresh rain against dry earth. The way I feel so small but also so connected to the tiniest of living beings because our bodies are vastly different, but they function in much the same way. The way the fog and sun mingle and create this golden morning haze. The sound of a crisp leaf crunching under my red boots. The fact that I get to wake up every day in a cute little red house with shelves of books, stocked with canned foods and elk/deer/salmon/shimp gathered by hand, next to a man who is warm in body and spirit.
- My family & friends. Who have a cup of tea or coffee with me, who spend a moment chatting about life. Who ask me how I am and share their own worries, joys and fears. Who make me feel that I am not alone or even weird (even though I am weird).
This list saves me from myself. And it is myself, just as much a part of me as my mood disorder. And more powerful. It is more powerful because I MAKE it more powerful. I take the time to give my life, my joy (not happiness, which is a baloney romantic, temporal, term) power. This month is suicide prevention month. Preventing your own suicide starts with loving you. I hope you can find that love. I really do. If you need help, ask those around you, or call this hotline: http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/.
Darkness will whisper.
Desperation will call.
They will sit, uninvited,
upon fractured souls.
When lost in a fog
too thick to see past,
it’s easy to assume
the gloom will last.
Storms are oppressive,
but after the flood
the sun will shine again,
new beauty will bud.
Your pain is important,
so much more is your life,
it extends out before you,
full of joy, laughter and light.
The cruel will try to silence you,
keep you stuck in the hurt of now.
But love is fiercely powerful,
take all the time
H.M. is the author of the soon to be re-released, award winning, dark fantasy, Monochrome, a book about depression and the importance of memories. She is also an avid poet and short story writer. You can find her works listed at www.hmjones.net. She reads, takes part in conventions and cosplaying, hikes, gardens, pulls in her community’s canoe, teaches English and bookstore hops. She loves life, but strives for contentment over happiness.