Every fall for the last several years I have experienced a depression that I now anticipate in the hopes I can ward it off. For a while I didn’t associate the blue/black feelings with the coming of autumn, but then I began to pay attention to their impact on me and made the connection. I have been successful in turning my mood around, but I can feel, right in the back of my mind, the looming possibility of a full-blown depression, expressed often in curse words spewing from my mouth over the littlest thing, the nit-picking of character flaws of everyone around me (my poor husband generally receives the brunt of this), and beating myself up over perceived inadequacies. While I am much better now that I am aware of the problem, there were times when I would drive my car someplace secluded where I could have a good, hard cry; the ugly kind where you lose your breath and feel that your world is coming apart at the very seams.
I self-analyzed these episodes and concluded that my depression is most likely a compilation of several factors.
The summers are always hard on me in the desert. I struggle to keep the flowers, trees and vegetables I’ve planted from succumbing to the intense heat.
Our property just after we moved in, 2005
I rarely get any produce during those hot months, whereas in the other areas I’ve lived, New York and California, produce is in abundance from a backyard garden, roadside stands and hiking ventures.
I also had trouble dealing with the heat as I went through the “hot” phases of menopause. Thankfully, I’m on the other side of that change of life so my skin doesn’t feel like it’s on fire anymore.
When I was young, growing up in New York, I was always outside. I witnessed the trees changing colors, felt the cold temperature on my face while I inhaled the smells of autumn and heard the crunching of leaves under my feet. I miss that more than anything because it doesn’t happen in Las Vegas. There are no pumpkin patches or harvest festivals, no place to go and buy a basket of apples or get some fresh-pressed cider. This longing plays a big role in my autumn blues.
Another reason might be more deeply rooted in what the month of October signifies for me; that’s the month my parents died (October - In Memoriam). Ever since I was little my grandmother acknowledged my mother’s birthday (October 2) and her death day (October 17). We went to her grave and lay flowers for her.
It wasn’t until I was an adult that I recognized my father’s death date of October 26; his name and an acknowledgement of his death did not occur in our house during my childhood.
Since October is now Domestic Violence Awareness Month, it is impossible for me to ignore the connections.
Since I have become self-aware of my propensity for depression in the fall, I have taken steps to prevent it overcoming me. I have educated myself on how to create and maintain fruitful gardens even in this desert environment.
One section of my garden today
I try and visit places that expose me to the autumn experience: two years ago it was Oregon,
last year my hometown in New York;
although this is tricky as I return to my Las Vegas home heavy-hearted leaving it all behind me. But, I focus on the positives, which works to balance it all out for me. And when I find myself spinning negative thoughts in my head or swearing at something silly, I reprimand myself and focus on the blessings I am so fortunate to have in my life.
I feel it is important to allow yourself to go through the many phases and feelings that this journey in life has to offer. I also feel it is very important to look closely at yourself to discover what makes you tick, and that includes looking deep within to find out how you can be the best that you can be. I may not be exactly where I want to be at times, but I know that the power is within me to create my own happiness, no matter where I am or what time of year it is.
I seems to be working for me.