I felt the first breath of Autumn the other day. It stank.
No it didn’t, not really. I actually really enjoy Autumn. The colors are beautiful, the air is crisp, the season for sweaters is starting; all around good things. The first time I held hands with someone was during Autumn. It was Halloween and I was fifteen. Her hands were cold.
I always looked forward to Halloween. Dressing up and getting candy; what could be better? Now it isn’t such a big deal to me. There’s no reason for it to be.
The Autumn air carries something in it that excites me, but also a stunning stillness. It’s the stirring of something new amid the end of Summer. The feeling is enchanting.
Autumn also scares me; it means Winter isn’t far. The beauty and color of trees in Autumn come from the death of the leaves. They die and shrivel and fall and we call it beautiful. Sad is somehow happy.
Autumn almost makes it okay to be sad, to be depressed. As if I’m just shutting down with the rest of the world. It makes it okay to stay home and wrap myself up in a blanket or two. But sometimes it’s still possible to leave homely comforts behind and explore, which is why it’s better than Winter, which is just wet and cold.
Winter is hard for me. My depression consistently gets worse during Winter and anticipating the downward spiral is what scares me about Autumn. It’s like standing on the tracks, watching the train hurtle towards you, and knowing there is no way to dodge it.
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) influences many people, and has an influence in my life as well. It helps describe the patterns of my depression. Summers are easier; Winters are harder. Spring and Autumn have bits of both.
At the beginning of last Winter semester I was having a hard time. I felt like I couldn’t move. Instead of normal blood in my veins I had a thick jelly dragging me down. Every day seemed pointless. Repetitive. Getting out of bed was hard enough, let alone getting to class. The best part of the day was the part where I got back into bed so that I wouldn’t have to think for a bit. I wouldn’t have to exist. But it was also the worst because it reminded me of the solitude to which I seemed doomed. Only sharing my life and bed with pillows and blankets.
Things were similar when I was on my mission (January 2012ish). My apartment at the time had a closet that you had to walk through to get to the bathroom. I had a small chair in that closet (and a dresser, it was a big closet). I would go in there and disappear. There were times I would pass hours in the closet, trying to not exist. This was shortly after I came out to my parents, and no, the irony of me hiding in the closet was not lost on me.
Generally speaking, things improved when Winter ended. Not everything, but some things did. In sharing this I’m not looking to be melodramatic or for pity, but for understanding and patience because I am scared.
Now with the breath of Autumn on my neck it feels as though I’m stuck on the tracks, waiting for the train.