Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Seasoned, Affected and Disorderly

I woke up this morning to the sound of a strong late-autumn wind rifling through the trees in my back garden, and rattling against my window. My first thought was 'That'll take down the last of the remaining leaves then,' and usually I would have felt sad, but not this year.

I diagnosed myself with SAD a few years ago. Seasonal Affect Disorder (or in other words, The Winter Blues) is a form of depression that only kicks in during the winter months. People with SAD tend to be absolutely fine during the warmer months of the year, and depressed during the colder months. It's thought to be related to the lack of light in winter.

The trouble is, as soon as I "realised" this was what it was, I began dreading winter. If I had SAD, it would mean I was always miserable during the winter months, and there was very little I could do about it. So I'd get to September, when the air felt cooler and the leaves started changing colour... and I'd have in my head this chaotic combination of complete denial of the end of summer, wearing flip flops until my toes froze; and a deep throbbing panic that once summer was over, my happiness would end too.

Autumn became nothing more that a slippery slope to winter. Winter became a dark hole.

So how is it that this year, when Autumn kicked in and the leaves started turning from green to orange...I felt nothing but excitement and pleasure from the change?

There is only one thing I can put it down to, and that is the incomprehensible magic of a shift of focus from negative to positive. The sad thing is, I can't really explain how it happened! If I could, I feel like I could make it all better, fix everyone who feels sad themselves! I would have my hands on the key to happiness! But unfortunately it doesn't work that way. It's been a long, meandering process, and a completely personal one, and this is how it must be for everyone who goes through it.

Still, if there's one thing I can say it's this: if you are sad you must embrace change. You must want it: REALLY want it deep down inside you. I know this because it is the only thing that worked for me. I got sad. I got more sad. I fell into a lake of sad and I couldn't find the shore. Then, just as I thought there was no way out of it and I would sink forever, I hit the bottom of the lake. It sounds a little crazy, but the bottom is a good place because yes, it may feel like the absolute worst you could feel, but at least you have something to push against, if you get my meaning.

But this is the conclusion I came to... if you can call it a conclusion... this morning as I was listening to the wind stealing the last little symbols of summer from the spidery branches of the winter-bare trees: if you can find a way to embrace change, then you can find a way to enjoy it. When I was sad, I just wanted to desperately cling on to anything that made me feel happy, because I was so afraid of the emptiness around it. So I clung onto summer and dreaded the moment when it changed. But now that I feel happy, now that I am enjoying the changes in my life and looking forward to the unknown good times that are yet to come; autumn and winter are suddenly just new steps on the journey.

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