It’s finally Fall! If you listen closely, you can hear the sounds of defeated clicks and heavy sighs as families reluctantly switch on the heat. The ominous bin is removed from the top of the closet as hats and mitts topple out, to be replaced by sandals and sunscreen, banished to the void for another year. There is the echo of lament at the shortness of summer, gone too soon again, and the prickly bracing for the brash winter all-too-quick on fall’s heels.
But in my room, the window is open. The air flowing in is at once uncomfortably cold, and immeasurably soothing. Healing. The sun is growing lazy, beginning to sleep in, and clocking out earlier each day. Unlike most people, I welcome the darkness. It is calming to begin and end my day under the still blanket of night sky.
I’m not alone in my love of fall. Entire advertising campaigns capitalize on the earthy season. We are hit with a deluge of pumpkin spice, inundated until we are exhaling cloves and cinnamon. We are taken in by the stunning light-show of the trees. We get to break out those cute fall outfits and adorable harvest décor. Fall is lovely, and I am certainly not the only one to welcome it.
But for me, fall holds a different meaning. It is the only time of year that my depression allows me to feel optimistic. Fall is my New Year. It is my rebirth. It is the exact opposite of everything fall should be.
Traditionally, fall is about reaping what you have previously sown. It is harvest. It is reflection. It is the end of a fertile year, and a plunge into darkness while we wait out the inhospitable winter in anticipation of the new life brought by spring. Seasonal Affective Disorder begins to set in for many people, bringing on or worsening depression as sunlight becomes fleeting.
But not for me. As the foliage dies and the world falls dormant, I come alive. I feel weight lift off me, carried away by the crisp wind. I wrap my body in barriers of sweaters and hoodies. I step outside comfortably for the first time that year, unhindered by the heat and light of summer, or the damp chill of winter.
More than enticing weather, I feel driven. I begin to make lists of things I want to accomplish, and ways in which I will grow this year. I make promises to myself that I will keep. I feel energized, renewed, and hopeful. Shackles of depression that hold me back the rest of the year loosen, and I feel free.
When I say that I love fall, I do mean that I love pumpkins and hot beverages and coloured leaves – but I also mean that I love the escape from my prison. I love the few months I am gifted to feel true joy, and reassurance that I am okay. I soak in fall like a cactus does water, to sustain me through the rest of the parched year.
So please bear with my seemingly campy and over-the-top love notes to fall. Indulge me my pumpkin spice everything, and my talk of sweater weather. I am holding on to this time of year with both hands, white-knuckled, willing it to stay as long as it can, clearing my cluttered mind with its presence.
The warm weather will be here before we know it. Those sandals will come down from the cupboard before the sunscreen expires, and we will rise and retire with the sun once more. In the meantime, I will relish in my small oasis while I can, sipping my pumpkin coffee, wearing my favourite sweater, and feeling like I can take on the world.