Autumn is by far my favorite season, with summer being a close second. As F. Scott Fitzgerald said in The Great Gatsby, “Life begins again when it gets crisp in the fall.” Everything feels fresh and renewed. The temperature is perfect. I love it! However, in the fall, I feel anxiety and depression starting to brew, knowing that winter is right around the corner.
While everyone else is looking forward to the possibility of snow and getting ready for everything Christmas related, I am trying to cover up my Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), and put on a happy face for the kids.
My oldest son asks each year, “Do you hope it snows this winter, Mommy?” I answer yes with a smile on my face because I know it makes him happy, though in reality, the snow feels like the bars of a prison cell closing on me, trapping me at home.
I like to get out and go places, whether it is going for a walk at the greenway or taking my kids to the zoo; I like to be out enjoying fresh air and sunshine. But that’s not always possible in the winter. By February last year, my SAD got so bad, that I had to take a trip to sunny Florida because I felt that I was going to lose it. Thankfully, we were able to go and I felt much better.
I am sure that growing up in California — where sometimes our December temperatures can be up to 90 degrees — has something to do with why SAD affects me so much here, but I have lived in the Tennessee Valley for almost twelve years and it really only started to impact me in the past few years. I dread this winter already for a few reasons.
First of all, I am feeling it early this year — since the middle of October. Secondly, I don’t know what to expect regarding the pandemic and if things will go back to how they were earlier this year with us all having to be trapped inside our homes again.
On top of the weather, Christmas doesn’t help. Having to spend money that you don’t always have and the pressure of choosing perfect gifts, add to the anxiety and depression of the winter season. Additionally, having to purposely orchestrate fun winter and Christmas events for the children to enjoy and make sure everything is perfect for everyone on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, make this season challenging. But no one would know — besides maybe my husband — by looking at me or my social media posts. I try to keep everything happy. Occasionally, when I am really feeling SAD hit, I may post something about it, but I will usually delete that post within a few minutes to avoid appearing negative.
I know I’m not alone.
According to Psychology Today, it’s estimated that Seasonal Affective Disorder affects about 10 million Americans. Fortunately, thus far, my SAD hasn’t been so severe to cause me not to function, but it’s still unpleasant and something that I feel like I have to suffer through.