The changing seasons change me. I feel myself falling like the leaves, dried up and floating, unaware and detached. Or, rather, I’m watching the leaves break away, seated on a bench, noticing the world play out but I am unable to join in. My desire to connect with the crowd constantly contradicting my lingering lack of motivation to get up on my two feet and run with the wind. So I sit and watch. My introverted tendencies seem to heighten – I can feel the pull for companionship but I am stuck in my mind, crowded thoughts caving in on me and ultimately, I am trapped in a heightened fear of failure and my resistance to make it go away. From the end of summer, to the beginnings fall and then winter, I find myself lost in a period of time where the sun shines less as well as my creativity, my drive to create becoming a dull thud in the back of my head. It is like a heavy paper-weighted reminder that I should be more motivated than I am. When the seasons change, slowly, like an old forgotten acquiescence, my seasonal depression sneaks up on me and I find myself lost in my turmoil.
But with the changing seasons comes transformation – solid and strong, despite the effects it may have on me. Over the years, as I have experienced change over and over again, I find myself digging through the looming darkness to find the soft yellows, oranges, reds of the sun, the leaves, comforting. With each passing year, instead of fighting a losing battle with my seasonal depression, I have learned a trick to turn it around and work for me. I have learned how to use my seasonal depression to my advantage.
HINDRANCE INTO INCENTIVE
The biggest struggle, personally, is my utter lack of motivation. The shorter days make me cave into myself, choosing to wrap myself in a blanket rather than get my tasks done. But I have learned how to flip that feeling around for my own favor. I am someone who loves a challenge and competition makes me thrive, so when I find myself neglecting my responsibilities, cycling back into a pattern that comes with every autumn, I give myself challenges. My To-Do list becomes a haphazard line-up of everything that I need to get done, all accompanied with a time-frame in which to do them. I’ll tell myself to finish the introduction of my essay before I have to go into work, or finish my reading before 5 o’clock when it usually starts to get dark. If I finish in time, I reward myself with small tokens like watching a movie or getting my favorite dessert. Although little, it helps in the long run. On the weekends, when I really want a break from everything, I make sure I split up my responsibilities, especially homework, in many different pieces. Come Sunday night, I feel like I have completed multiple different puzzles and the pay-off feels immensely rewarding.
BUSY, BUSY QUEEN B
Another technique that helps me when I find myself feeling stuck is jam-packing my schedule of work and extracurricular activities. Forcing myself to stay busy actually clears my mind and keeps me focus – if I have to get so much done, I’ll only have room in my head to plan out how to get all responsibilities completed, instead of focusing on things that would only make me spiral back into my dull cycle. Staying busy allows me to get out of my room and, sometimes, off-campus more. My room is my safe space, but can also act as my cage. Realizing that I have the control to either lock myself in and lock everyone else out clears my vision and allows me to appreciate what is really in front of me.
Staying busy also forces me to interact with people when I feel like staying home all day. Willing myself to see people is hard for me to do, but when I get to see them while also accomplishing another task, it’s that much better.
While my advice works for me and hopefully works for you, I do want to mention that it is not a guarantee to cure anything. There are still days where the cool breeze of the wind hurts and there is nothing for me to do but wrap my scarf around my neck and power through. But if there is any advice that I could give that will work, it is this: you control you. The fallen leaves have no power when they are crunched, the cool breeze no strength if it is not pushing you along. The biggest discovery with my seasonal depression was understanding it, accepting it, and, in the end, ensuring that at the end of every day, only I would have complete control over myself. So I invite you to embrace the bad days, the days were anxiety withers it’s way through your body, your mind, and every action you do. Embrace it and control it. Find the beauty with fallen leaves, jump and play in the multitude of colors getting lost in a kaleidoscope of autumn. I invite you to find joy in the wind, to let the breeze take you somewhere new and exciting. With the changing seasons, we might change too, and that’s okay because as the seasons change, we don’t just change, we grow.