Here Comes Fall And My Seasonal Affective Disorder

By Mary H. Dyer | September 22, 2020
by Mary H. Dyer
September 22, 2020

I have a love-hate relationship with autumn. Here in the high desert, autumn is often the most beautiful time of year, and it can be hot until the end of October. On the other hand, snow flurries on Halloween aren’t unusual. So, I appreciate the warm days of autumn. Summer is winding down and kids are back in school (well, maybe). Harvest has been completed for the year and farmers are busy planting next year’s crops. Hopefully, the roots get a good head start before cold sets in.

My Seasonal Affective Disorder Begins in Fall

I hear people talking about how fall is their favorite time of year, but it’s incredibly bittersweet for me because it means winter is on its way. I dread winter because I have what is probably the world’s worst case of SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder), or at least it seems that way to me because nothing helps very much. As the days get shorter, my energy lags. By the time January rolls around, I feel like I’m walking through jello.

I’m resentful sometimes because I feel like a good chunk of my year is wasted, but I try to make the best of it. I read. I take my dog for short walks so I’m exposed to a little thin sunlight. I walk, even when its miserably cold, as long as the surfaces are free of ice and snow.

Yes, I’ve tried lights for overcoming SAD, and they help – a little. I’ve discovered that regular lights work as well as expensive full-spectrum lights, as long as they’re bright. I joke that my house can probably be seen from Mars because I keep so many lights in my office. I even have a visor-type thing that shines lights directly into my eyes. Like everything else, it helps a little and I try not to mind that I look like a raccoon.

Lights allow me to get my work done each day, but sometimes it takes me hours just to get started. I have to fight the urge to spend entire days napping or reading, but then, I’m angry at myself at the end of the day because although I’ve finished my work, there’s no time left for playing music or many other things I enjoy in my spare time.

Not surprisingly, I dread winter. I like spring because the days are getting longer and summer is coming. I adore summer when the days are bright and long and my energy is high. I really hate that I hate winter. I would love to like winter. Instead, I just try to be gentle with myself and remember that the sun will return and I’ll be out in the garden again soon.

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  • Dorri-ann Whymark
    Comment added September 26, 2020Reply

    I too dread the onset of winter, the dark mornings, and early afternoons. Here in the North East UK, our autumn has already started with the nights drawing in. I also have Fibromyalgia which combined with S.A.D means the desire to retreat to bed is getting harder to resist. I wish I could just hibernate all winter and not wake up until the first signs of spring start to appear!
    We have 'daylight' bulbs in all the rooms except our bedroom, they do help but wrapping up and getting outside even for a short while helps even more (when I can persuade myself to do so!) Once December is over I continue to remind myself the days are getting longer, spring is on its way. Then I can look forward to the snowdrops and crocus' and other signs of life returning. I LOVE spring!
    My regards to everyone out there suffering from debilitating conditions such as S.A.D.

  • Mary D Klorres
    Comment added September 26, 2020Reply

    Hi Mary, I lived most of my life never realizing what was wrong with me in fall and winter...I am like a giant slug during those times of the year! Do you really think the lights help? I've never tried that. I guess I should instead of upping my meds! I think more people than we realize suffer from that, and, this is the first time I've ever seen a name! Thank you so very much for writing your article, at least, now I know that I'm not the only one that is like that...Diane :(

  • Kris
    Comment added September 25, 2020Reply

    I could have written this article! I like the fall, and sort of use it as a time to transition to the dreaded winter! Even though it stays pretty sunny here, it’s just not the same. I have plants that I grow indoors, and they seem to help. Maybe because I have the blinds wide open, which they would be even without the plants. Having a patio seems to also help, even if it’s cold outside. Mirrors to bounce the light around! Wishing you the best!

  • silvano domantay
    Comment added September 25, 2020Reply

    I want to start flower plants next year my second year to this house, this time my plants is only vegetables but they are not healthy,as lack of knowledge in gardening I want to learn.what to do this fall.

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