Monday, October 23, 2006

Slipping, slipping


I feel it happening again.

The weather starts turning cool. Leaves turn brilliant shades of orange, red and yellow. I walk outside in the morning to find frost glimmering like diamonds on every surface. I feel abundantly joyful and bask in the beauty of autumn.

Then it starts. A general achiness, a weariness that tears through my body. Every cell feels heavier. It's harder to breathe, harder to move.

I begin to feel overwhelmed by the pace of my life. I feel inadequate. I get angry more often. My feelings get hurt by things I'd usually think nothing of.

Soon, I stop wanting to see people. Or talk to people. I feel like I want to wrap myself in a warm blanket in a corner and only invite my closest friends and family in to see me.

My house gets a bit dirtier than usual. The vacuuming that I used to avoid for only a day or two now might be avoided for weeks. I don't like the idea of visitors. Even if my house were immaculate, I kind of wish that most people would just keep away for a little while. Let me be quiet and crawl within and just rest for a few months.

I'm usually not consciously aware as most of these things happen. It's such a slow process. Even so, after a decade of this, you'd think I'd catch on more quickly.

But I don't.

Then, there will be an evening that makes it clear to me. Dusk will be settling over the world. The sun will start going down. And I'll start to feel a bit jittery, uncomfortable. Anxious. Over the next few days these nightly bouts of anxiety will grow. And one night I'll be almost ready to collapse in panic at the setting of the sun. More! More! My body needs more! The sun can't go down yet. I can't handle the darkness. I just can't do it.

And this is when I realize that it's here once again.

Seasonal Affective Disorder


I've dealt with seasonal depression since my senior year of high school. But, somehow it still surprises me every year.

Maybe it's because every year I hope it won't happen. Which is probably a good thing. I'd hate to waste a lovely autumn in anticipation and dread.

Some years it has been truly deep, dangerous depression. Some years I'd just call it a bit of a funk.

Who knows what this year will bring.

But I was really hoping this would be the year I'd get off. I'm happily pregnant. I've been staying well-nourished. I've been exercising and getting out in the sun more.

No such luck.

I'll probably pull out my friend, the Blue Wave GoLight, and start to put him to good use.

I'll probably take a hot bath today and drink a great big mug of hot cocoa.

What's bothering me the most about this right now is a general feeling that maybe I'm not what's wrong. Maybe I've been okay all along.

After all, my body's rhythm, my emotions, my mind are all telling me exactly what I need to be comfortable right now. I need to sleep a bit later. I need emotional space, but I also need a great deal of love and attention from those who put me at ease. I need to just take things a bit slower than usual.

I keep thinking that, if I were just able to do that, to follow the signals my body gives me, that this time of year wouldn't be so hard.

But, my body's signals and my life's demands are terribly off-kilter. My body needs rest. My life demands that I drive kids to school and make Halloween costumes and help at my children's school and get ready for the holidays and make Christmas cards and make dinner every night and spend time with extended family and go visiting teaching and prepare lessons for Sunday, and, and, and, and.

Maybe there's really never been anything wrong with me so much as a complete and inescapable set of demands that keeps me each year from simply doing what I need to do to take care of me.


FrogLegs said...

Aww... :( Me too-- and this year is bad-- but then, living in Texas didn't hav emuch of a winter. The light-- very interesting!!! :) Keep taking care of yourself!

Derrick said...

I love you Heather. You may be down in the dumps some days, but you always seemed to say the right things when I needed it.

Thanks for all you do.