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When the First Day of Frost Hits, So Does My Depression

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When the fall and winter begin rolling around there are many things to look forward to. The beautiful changing of the leaves here in the Northeast is something people travel to see. There’s the huge, orange moon that hangs in the sky, along with the stars, which always appear clearer in the crisp night air. Halloween is still my favorite holiday. Who doesn’t like dressing up and asking for free candy? Since I’m a mom, I get to do this all over again.

Thanksgiving and of course Christmas are also happy times. The bright glow of colorful Christmas lights strung across the houses, the tree lighting ceremony, festive family gatherings and of course secret midnight visits from Santa Claus.

There is much to enjoy during this time of year, but somehow the fall and winter are always the most difficult. The coming of the holidays also drags in tow the bitter cold, the grey lifeless skies and seasonal depression, and with it feelings of dull, empty sadness.

I think for the past 10 years I’ve said the same words once the first day of frost hits.

“I really need to move somewhere warmer.”

I know it sounds like something everyone says because I’ll venture to guess most people are not huge fans of the freezing cold or driving up ice covered hills. However, my reasoning has a few additions to the typical winter gripes. My general attitude and energetic nature vanish from me day by day with the arrival of winter. I begin to feel trapped, miserable, unhappy and I fail to see all I have to be thankful for. I look out at the cold grey world and feel lost and alone. Often, it feels as though the days are longer and will never end.

I wish I could love the snow and the cold the way I did as a child, when my parents practically had to drag me inside the house after hours of outdoor excitement. I’ll enjoy sledding with my child or comment on how absolutely stunning the ice covered trees shimmer in the light, but the happiness never lasts as long as I want it to. It’s as though mother nature is sucking out my soul and placing it in hibernation for the duration of the season.

I often go through long periods of lethargy and feelings of apathy. It is no fun at all. Now that I have a small child, I can honestly say I dread the cold season more. Now, she wants to play constantly, but we’re going to be trapped indoors more often than not. During the spring and summer it’s easy to take a fussy child to the park, for a walk or simply just outside to explore. I took my daughter out today and after 15 minutes her fingers turned blue, and I felt my mood beginning to turn blue along with them.

The bitter chill seeps into my bones and makes them ache as though I have the flu. While I do my best to stay positive with baking, watching holiday films and looking at the snow covered world, I can’t manage to lift my spirits in any permanent way, and I’m dreading that feeling once again.

My husband tells me if we were to move, I’d miss my family, and I completely agree. I would very much. However, after a while, I start wondering what is worse. Having my depression fanned every year by the grey fog rolling in, or missing my family being close by. It sounds like an easy choice.

I’m lucky to have a family I adore and whom I get to spend time with, but I can’t help but wonder if moving somewhere lacking the harsh winter months would be a positive change for me. I can’t help but think that maybe my depression would be less invasive, less threatening in a place where the sun is warm and bright the majority of the year. I will do my best to smile, to ignore the bitter wind chill as it bites into my skin and focus on the holiday lights, festive cooking and my child’s laughter. I will make efforts to focus on being with family, planning time consuming indoor activities and try and forget the fact that there are months and months before the frost will thaw.

To some it may sound melodramatic to dread the coming seasons the way I do, but the feelings of bland sadness are real. I don’t want to feel as though nothing matters. It isn’t fun to sit staring at the clock wondering what I can do to bring my energy levels back. I can exercise, drink hot cocoa and watch Disney films over and over again, but the depression will creep over me like the ice creeps over the lake and stay until the thaw.

Image via Thinkstock.

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Originally published: November 1, 2016
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