The Dark Months Cometh

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Autumn always makes me melancholy. I find I miss those I care about more this time I year; I tend to be more pessimistic than I normally am; my energy level plummets; and my social skills go into hibernation.

Unlike many people in the Northern Hemisphere, Autumn is not my favourite season. I am a spring gal. Heck, years ago when it was the ‘in’ thing to “have your colours done”, even the consultant said I was a spring gal.

Sure,  there are things I enjoy about fall. Living in the land of the midnight sun doesn’t provide much ambience on a summer’s evening. There is something ethereal about lanterns casting their glow across the footpath; candle light wafting across the faces of friends at a dinner table; the dance of a campfire flame. For any of those things to exist, you need darkness …and fall.

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One of my favourite times of day is dusk, when you walk by homes just as darkness descends. The soft light casting shadows from windows onto the lawns and gardens outside. It’s that warm, homey….melancholy feeling that wraps me in a warm embrace as I see families gather back together after a day spent apart.

I enjoy the  ‘comfort foods’ of autumn like homemade stews and soups.

But, it’s the smell of the earth…that decaying, rotted smell; the trees shedding their leaves, standing stripped naked against the storms to come. It’s getting up in the dark….difficult for a morning person. It’s the shortening of the days; it’s the weight of heavier clothes; it’s wearing socks and coats again. It’s the lethargic feeling that I can’t shake. It’s the attraction…and the fear…of aloneness that I crave.

I suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder, or S.A.D. for short. I was diagnosed just over 20 years ago. There are varying degrees…mine is severe. S.A.D. is a type of clinically defined depression that occurs at certain times of year, mainly during winter. It can be brought on by grey cloudy days, or in my case, months of very short daylight hours and long hours of darkness. Treatments vary and can include prescription drugs and light therapy. I opt for the latter.

I struggle every day just to function. It is all I can do to pull myself out of bed, shower and brush my teeth. I would prefer to sit in a vegetative state until the warmth of the spring sun brings my body, and my spirit, back to life. I literally have to talk myself through each day.

All of this doesn’t explain my dislike of fall, as I didn’t always suffer from S.A.D. Perhaps, it is, for me, the season of death. I lost my Father in the fall. My first husband died in the fall. A dear friend, my Maid of Honour, was murdered in the fall. For me, it is the season of loss; of unplanned endings. Of great pain.  It means the darkness is coming and I never know what form that darkness will take.

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I will myself through it because as surely as I breathe, I know that spring is only six months away. It gives me strength …and hope.

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