When the Shadow of Depression Comes in Winter

Do you know that time of day when the sun is going down and you see your shadow for the first time? At that time, you know it’s coming, and there is nothing you can do about it. You know what I’m talking about, right?

Myself, I live a life where I know every winter something out of my control is about to happen. My depression is something I live with. Nine months out of the year, I can handle it in stride. As the days get shorter and the nights get longer, the heavy shadow of my mental illness reappears with a vengeance. As hard as I have tried, I cannot put my finger on a reason why this happens. So I have labeled it “the struggling months.”

I started battling this “shadow” when I was 16, and it wasn’t until I was 18 that I almost lost. I remember it like it was yesterday. The year 2012, the month January. I go back to this night often when I’m walking in the cold and feel myself shiver. I go back to the ambulance that sat on my block with the doors wide open as I shivered before taking off. Fast forward one year, almost to the very day, I remember calling my mom, “It’s happened again, and I can’t explain why.”

These months are tough. They’re tough on many. I learn to live with my mental illness “shadow.” Just as you see the sun setting and know what’s coming, I do too. The winter months start to roll in, and I know it’s time to buckle down on my self-care.

It’s important to call my therapist. It’s important to make sure the medicines are helping. It’s important to be aware. These are things, just as with any illness, I’m learning to live with and get accustomed to.

My message to those who struggle like me is don’t be afraid of the shadow that’s coming with the cold. Become aware. Awareness has saved my life every winter since that first attempt. You must learn that these “struggling months” are coming. Be aware of what you or your loved one needs to do to prepare. Be there for yourself. Be there for the ones you care about, but do not live in fear of these months.

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.

If you need support right now, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. You can reach the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741-741.

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