• Yolanda

    I have been miserable for weeks. Completely immobile and filled with self-loathing. Three years ago, my mother-in-law attempted suicide in this very month. I’v never made a seasonal connection to the sadness before today. I always thought it was some leftover perfectionism from all the years I spent in school. And that there was something about getting to September that always made me feel every ounce of my not-good-enoughs. Like I’d just went back to school shopping and once again was going to show up with the wrong kind of jeans. But it may be the sun? A relief, yes. But I don’t know if it will stop making me feel like the only thing I am capable of in this world in failure.

  • OKMom

    So sorry so many of you are going thru this. I don’t suffer from depression, but my 39 year old daughter has suffered for years. Hers is worse this time of year as well. Heather, when you came back from Sundance that year you posted pictures of your trip. I have used one of your Aspen pictures as my wallpaper since then. Everyone who sees it asks where I got it. I tell them my friend Heather took it and direct them to your website!

  • Phoebe Fay

    I had a freak out the other day – panic, anxiety, frustration and tears over a stupid label in Word (damn you, Microsoft!). After, I commented to my husband that this was the first time it had happened in about six months, and I didn’t know why. Now I’m thinking that September is as good a reason as anything else I’ve come up with, and I feel better. I can view it as a bump on the sun and not as the beginning of an endless descent.

  • Chenny555

    Thank you. For this post and all the others that make the rest of us feel less alone. February/March to me is what September is to you. Winter has been entirely too long and I start to feel like I just can’t endure any more cold, darkness, or sadness. And the guilt and anger that go along with the sadness and, consequently, the fights I pick with my husband make it a rough time of year. This past year was particularly tough because I was pregnant, hormonal and filled with even more guilt for feeling sad when my life is filled with so much good.

    Hang on. It WILL get better.

  • TalkingofMichelangelo

    I’ve been lurking for a few months now, but I want to comment now. Thank you for writing so openly about your depression. It’s always nice, and also a little weird, when you see others feel just the same as you do. Like…oh, I guess I’m not so crazy…or maybe I am, but at least other people are in this crazy boat with me! :P

  • mommica

    The seasonal light changes in Alaska are pretty drastic and can mess with even those who are not depressive. I’m not sure how effective they are for people prone to depression, but have you ever tried an SAD (seasonal affective disorder) lamp? I know a lot of people up here who swear by them.

  • kidsmom

    Thank you for posting this. I needed to read this right N O W.

    Here’s to medicated depressives and September!

  • full contact knitter

    Thank you for this. I really does hit home. My therpaist recently told me the same thing-that it’s the changing of the season. Usually it’s the winter to spring that hits me harder, but this season has been affecting me in the past few years as well. I try to sleep more, if I can, and have hot tea. If they have Starbucks in your area (who doesn’t at this point), try a London Fog (they also call it an Earl Grey Latte): it’s Earl Grey tea, steamed milk (or soy milk) with foam and a shot or two of vanilla. Really, it’s like a hug from the inside. And isn’t that what we all need to give ourselves once in awhile?

  • jaimalaya

    That’s interesting. I’ve actually never thought of that. I get into a funk every spring and fall, but I mostly contribute it to the changing weather and sinus infections and that may very well be what’s wrong with me. I can’t seem to wake up all day long and all I want to do is lay around. I have no energy for cleaning the house or parenting my children. But I wonder if it does have something to do with what you said.

    Something to think about.

  • kristanhoffman

    I don’t think I experience these May/September issues, but I wanted to say “thank you” all the same. You’re helping people, and it moves me.

  • Ezza

    I live in Australia, so we’re in the Spring equinox at the moment. I’ve had no sleep for the past two nights and finally gave up and took a sleeping pill which ironed me out for about sixteen hours. I couldn’t get in to work today.

    If anybody gives me crap on Monday I’m going to waft a fart in their direction and say “Equinox!”

  • lagringaloca

    Thanks for this, Heather. I always appreciate your being able to write so honestly and openly about your own struggles with depression. I was on Zoloft, then off, then on Prozac, then off, then started having some recurrent depression issues, then punched my husband in the arm, and now I’m on Zoloft again. It was a struggle for me to admit I needed pharmaceutical help but it’s good to feel normal again. Hang in there! Time passing is sometimes an advantage :-)

  • alondrace

    Yesterday I was told my friend took his life the day before. I don’t know how to make sense of it. I guess this is a start.

  • panduh

    I am trying so very hard not to become one of those statistics. Struggling.

  • wordsupmixed

    been there, almost killed myself. I finally broke 40 yrs worth of unipolar depression. I did it with light as documented here . follow the dawn therapy referneces.

    40$box, 2$ lightbulb and 40yrs depression gone.

  • Janice

    Thanks Heather, bravo @waitimaprincess…. Interesting to me is that I’ve had depression my whole life and never thought of the seasons being part of it. I was 44 when I decided the only solution was a permanent one. Obviously that didn’t work and then I searched out a support group. What I didn’t think through was people’s interpetation of ‘Survivors of Suicide’ wasn’t the same as mine and had a room full of people yelling at me because they couldn’t yell at their lost loved one. Ten years after that unfortunate little incident, I don’t have a support system and that’s just fine right now. It was those support people who were not so supportive when things were bad. I don’t talk about it much these days, except on to the Internet ;-) I view my depression as a companion that I travel through life with. I know how close it can get before I need helps and I do have resources for help. Like many other I thank you for your willingness to share so much of yourself and allow us a place to share also. And now the companion can just go suck it.

  • wrongweek

    You have no idea how much I needed to read that. It was like getting a big Internet hug. I have spent the last week in tears and anger for no good reason thinking some pretty scary thoughts. What makes it worse is my husband is currently deployed and I have a four-year-old who depends on me. It is nice to know I am not the only one feeling this way and that I’m not totally alone in the world. Because honestly, most of the time it seems exactly that way.

  • wendell

    Have you thought about a wake up light?

    Philips Hf3470/60 Wake-up Light, White

    They also make them that help w/ mood, although I think that model should help. I need to get my daughter one of these, she is bipolar and has problems around this time. But seriously if you have SAD, then I know the light really does help.

  • OldDogNewTits

    I certainly experience my share of unexplained lows from time to time. Seasonal, cyclical, hormonal – who knows? And, after twelve years of exclusive ‘momming’ to the extent that I even served TWO terms as a freakin’ PTA president, I have made the executive decision to return to my writing again. It’s therapetic … and cheaper than meds, right? I really hope everyone here adapts to the changing season and experiences more highs than lows in the future. Maybe I can make you laugh a while. Please come visit http://www.olddognewtits.com. I just put a pot of coffee on and I think there’s some leftover pie in the fridge. Help yourself!

  • Shan Last Shreds Of Sanity

    It’s very surprising to me that suicides are more prevalent in March and September. While I don’t like that March signals the end of our far too short Winters here and the beginning of 9th level of Hell temperatures (which I hate), September is glorious for me. Shorter days, cooler temperatures and the holidays all await me. My favorite seasons are Autumn and Winter. Both of those signal a time for reflection and the hope & promise of new birth.

    But I’m really weird. I get very bitchy in Summer. And I have struggled with depression & postpartum myself. I have a great fear of becoming a bi-polar like my crazy ass alcoholic mother. And that fear has paralyzed me at times.

    I’m sorry that the change of seasons affect you so. Have they associated this with SAD? The time change screws me up for almost a month each season. If that makes you feel any better. LOL

  • Caro

    Here’s Robert Sapolsky, author of ”why zebras don’t get ulcers. ” in a fantastic lecture. I’ve found his work very helpful in dealing with my own battle with depression. I’ve suffered since I was 17.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NOAgplgTxfc

  • Elgoodo

    Yep, you touch a lot of people. I didn’t want to get out of bed for the past two days — my meds didn’t seem to be working and I was trying to work out how to take the next step, which I could only articulate as Not Wanting to Be. I figured my weekend plans were useless — I wouldn’t be there. Fortunately I have a boyfriend who helped me get out of bed and convinced me that I would be OK — we would be OK. I know not everyone has that support. I had no idea about the September effect, though. So interesting. It makes me feel even less alone. Thank you, again.

  • Daddy Scratches

    Count me among those who suffer from depression, and make me the captain of those Team Depression members who get knocked on their asses by the transition from summer (yay!) into fall (boo!) and (gulp) winter (fuuuuck!).

    Watching my beloved, overpaid, underachieving Red Sox crash and burn in epic fashion last night hasn’t helped.

    I already take Wellbutrin every day. Anybody know if there’s something else I can take WITH Wellbutrin to help combat seasonal-affective disorder? I mean, like, besides heroin. Something legal, is what I’m saying.

  • Guacaholic

    Thank you for this. Your post is what I’ve been thinking for so long but have never been able to succinctly articulate. I got married last fall and couldn’t understand why beneath all the joy, there was still such dank and oppressive sadness. When I started looking at my depression history, I put two and two together and the seasonal cues were just so blatant.

    This year. This year I will be better. I’m pregnant with my first child and due in the winter and she deserves me to be there for her. First step? Buying a freakin’ SAD lamp.

  • plurabelle

    God.

    I just got asked not to return to my outpatient psychiatry program because my level of real “made the other patients feel sad.”

    Since my poor sad overachieving ass has been qualified as one of the smartest brains of my time (and that’s just my ass!) by someone I respect, I have to believe there’s something out there for me.

    But what, fuck? My husband has been locked in the bathroom, crying; the “world renowned’ programs I’ve consulted refer me back to one another; and my, god bless her, therapist has promised me that she and I between our doctoral degrees and education will figure out a treatment program for “women like me:”

    Women like me with:
    GREAT insurance
    living in the eastern corridor
    great, supportive partners
    no kids/dependents
    no job/responsibilities

    IF I AM BEYOND HELP WHO ISN’T???

  • abi

    Oh Heather, this so much. I’ve always attributed my difficulty with September to my mom’s death in September 1991 — but you’re right that there’s also a kind of skewed-ness, a not-quite-fitting-right, to September, and it helps to know there’s a reason. Well, “helps” isn’t right, because it’s doesn’t lessen the drowning feeling, the emotions sliding out of control, out of grasp — but affirming, anyway.

    Thank you for writing this, and thank you for how open you’ve been about your depression for all these years. Your words have given me strength at times that I’ve really needed it. Thank you.

  • J. Bo

    Wow, do I know this song by heart…

  • deirdre

    thank you for posting this.

  • Heather_R

    Is that what’s going on?! Thank you, Heather. Think I’ll be reserving any major changes until later next month. Right now, warm baths and herbal tea…

  • Mommaschmoop

    Just remember that it will cycle back soon enough. You won’t be sad forever, even if it feels that way at the time. When you can’t control the crappy feelings, try to think about the little things you can control – breathing, eating, other basics. The minutes will continue to go by until you have reached the good part of the cycle. Also, I try to remind myself that the fact that I tend to feel bad way more often than my friends and family makes me appreciate the GOOD days more…albeit few and far between. The happy days mean more to me because they aren’t expected, and I know better than to assume they will continue with any regularity. They’re like a surprise gift when they come around, which makes them even sweeter.

  • The Bold Soul

    Gosh, it’s like we’ve all heard about seasonal affective disorder, but as with a lot of other commenters (commentors?) here, I’d never given any thought to those transitional months when the seasons change so radically. We live in Paris and winters here are filled with days of grey skies when the sun doesn’t really appear until 8am and disappears by 5pm (we make up for it in summer with super long days of sunlight until nearly 11pm), and so we loathe the winters. Just yesterday I mentioned to my husband that I realized it now gets dark at 8pm and it isn’t really dawn yet when we get up at the usual time, and we both felt sad about that loss of light. Neither of us is affected by SAD the way some others are, but nonetheless, we do feel sad about the change of seasons. I do have a migraine today and I was chalking it up to monthly hormones but perhaps it IS light-related as well. Hmmm. Thanks for this post, Heather.

  • ltlepaw

    It’s beyond ironic that you post this today.

    My sister attempted suicide on Tuesday. They believe she was unconsious for two hours. She had taken pills at a park, and ended up under a bridge, partially submerged in a river. Somehow by the grace of whatever being, she’s okay (if you can call it that) with no brain damage.

    I’m beyond lost, I don’t know how to help her. We had an abusive father that she’s never gotten over, and I feel so helpless as to how to help. I decided to just say fuck it, I don’t want him to define who I am, but I’ve never been able to get her over that hurdle.

    This is the third attempt, and the closest she came. I’m so afraid that the next time will be real and for good. She’s checked herself into a psychiatric hospital, but since it’s voluntary, she can uncheck (is that a word) at any time, and she’s already talking about it because she hates it. Anyway, thanks for letting me post. I feel like I have to be the strong one, and can’t really vent to anyone, but I guess the anonymous internet doesn’t really mind.

  • prudent.law.student

    you live inside my head heather. i hope you know how much it helps to have someone so beautifully articulate the pain and sadness I feel for no reason other than my chemicals don’t work right! And the crushing anger that comes along with feeling like you have everything in the world and still aren’t happy. I read about your work with mothers around the world and i feel selfish and sad. Here I am living a life other may feel creates no room for sadness (married to a wonderful man, doing well in and actually liking law school, two wonderful, happily married parents) but the sadness just lingers. thank you for writing this. thank you for putting yourself out there.

  • sarahfromthenorth

    I’m so glad you know – and that you have a great supporting husband to help you through these rough times. Will it get better, will it fade? I can’t imagine what that feeling it like, it must be awful.

    We lost our friend last Sept 6, he left behind his wife and two beautiful boys, one of which my son plays hockey with. I cannot believe that we did not see this in him, he was so happy and ‘up’ the two weeks prior. It devastates me that he probably wanted help but we just didn’t know :( .

  • mybottlesup

    @Daddy Scratches i take prozac with wellbutrin… well, except for now when i’m pregnant. so you can imagine how much fun i am. :) good luck!

  • wendell

    @DaddyScratches my husband was on Wellbutrin alone as per his GP. Was not working, I told him he needed to go to a psychiatrist, who then added Zoloft (she calls this combo Well Off har har) and it’s been great for him. The psych told him that Wellbutrin isn’t really meant to be taken just by itself…it works better in conjunction with another SSRI.

  • nina-dsd

    For those out there suffering from SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder), I cannot recommend light therapy enough. If you’re not sure if this is you, check out “Seasons of the Mind” a book by Dr. Norman Rosenthal. The dawn-light helps too. Good luck to all of us in the Northern Hemisphere..and southern in a mere 6 months.

  • grapedidit

    I’m so sorry to hear this Heather. I’m pregnant w/ baby number two and realizing that while a lot of people feel happier when pregnant, I actually feel the opposite. I have to remind myself over and over that these days will pass. It’s hard to understand depression until you go through it yourself – I never had this perspective when I was younger.

    Here’s to hoping the change in light screwing with your brain and so many others ends soon!

  • Dana D.

    This year I finally made the connection between the seasonal shift and my anxiety. The shortness of breath and temper, the extreme flight or fight, the worry. It all ramps up hard as August cedes to September. I first noticed it three years ago but had no idea it was seasonally related until it recurred last year – right on time – and then this year. What’s shocking to me is that fall is my absolute favorite season. It feels so strange now to simultaneously love the beauty of the leaves, the changing light and the air … and yet loathe what it means for me.

  • kilawatts

    I just cried at my desk because of this post. You just put into words the feelings I have nagging at me constantly, the ones that make me feel broken and abnormal. And now I feel a little less alone. Thank you.

  • WindyLou

    Well, hell. No wonder.

    Once again, thanks for putting things like this out there. That’s why my anxiety/depression drugs haven’t seemed to be working lately. I’ve been fretting for no good reason.

  • Scott-5×5

    Holy crap. I don’t know if I’m more surprised by wanting to say “Me too!” or by the incredible number of people here in the comments saying “Me too!” We’re almost all saying the same thing: so that’s why! Thanks Heather, for pointing this out. I couldn’t agree more that it’s very frustrating not to have control over it, but there’s some reassurance in knowing it’s seasonal, and that there are all these other people in the boat with you.

  • Amy J.

    After 20 years of dealing with people who have either depression or manic depression, I can vouch big time for the seasonal stuff.

    My best friend got very irritable and sad during the seasonal switches. And, unfortunately, killed himself two years ago in March.

    I get it to a certain degree, but I’m Vitamin D deficient and have insomnia alot, so I know what causes it. I actually love the fall…my birthday is in the fall and I like winter more than summer. But I can feel the change in light…for sure.

    Hang in there Heather.

  • Amy J.

    And I can’t believe I forgot this, but my nephew killed himself three years ago in September!!!

    Wow. Scary, actually.

  • kheliwud

    I have been fighting depression for almost 20 years, my entire adult life. Off and on the varoius meds of the day. And still, mid-August comes, the slant of the sun changes and I am plunged into a deep black pool. I hate feeling this way. But I soldier on, take the chemicals and try to act “normal”. Well, folks, this is normal for me. And since both of my parents have dealt with it as well, I really had little chance of escaping. 2 things made me feel less odd and alone: finding out that my baby brother also faces the same daily battle with depression and anxiety (while I thought he skated along) and this post I read yesterday. While it does not change the strange itch and tremors, it helps to know, I am not alone in the dread of this time of year. Thank you for that. And for your unflinching honesty. Sometimes I even announce that I have a mental illness just to see how others react. Wicked, I know, but some need to have their eyes opened to the fact that we try to function and do not always walk around in straight-jackets. Thanks again.

  • hooha

    holy hell, what a gorgeous post. thank you.

  • j-momma

    Heather, I have so much respect for you and everyone who deals with their depression and other mental challenges head on. I have been trying to be your Jon to my Heather, but I get met with angry resistance and denial. It is very sad and frustrating to see the one you love go through this type of difficulty and do nothing to help themselves and instead choose to blame the world. I am welling up with tears just writing this. I try to help and be supportive but so much of it has to come from that person recognizing something isn’t right and wanting to be better. Keep up the fight, life is worth it!

  • insanelyme

    Ah Ha!

    Thank you Heather for all you share.

    Sometimes I take refuge in the little faces that call me ‘mommy’. They take me away … to a place where depression doesn’t live … at least for a little while anyway.

  • sarahemilygray

    This post was exactly what I needed to read this morning. Thank you.

  • Palesa

    I really hope you feel better soon, Heather. I’ve been on the slippery slope many times with depression and know how sickening it feels, and how hard it is to explain to others. You articulate it beautifully. Which is why we all come back to read you all the time!

    Hope it eases soon. Hang in there. Sending warmth and hugs :)