Autumn is my favorite season. The suffocating humidity finally goes away, the leaves turn beautiful colors. I love wearing sweaters and scarves. It’s also the beginning of the worst time of year for me.
Historically, my depression has worsened around the fall and winter months. Every year since 2012 or 2013 I’ve had to undergo ECT during this period. If you’ve been keeping up with my Throwback Thursday posts, then you know that I went through a depressive episode at approximately this same time of year last year, and needed ECT.
Despite using a light box, pictured above, it doesn’t always help. One of my cats seems to be enjoying the benefits of the natural light that it offers, but he also gives you an idea of how large the light box is. (I don’t know the exact dimensions because it’s currently in storage.) I keep it on the coffee table, so I can use it first thing in the morning, while I drink coffee and check social media.
According to the instructions, I’m to start by using it 30 minutes a day and work myself up to 2 hours a day, which I can tell you is a total pain and feels like a waste of time, especially if I end up needing to have ECT anyway. I think this year I may cap it off at an hour.
Winter is tough in Chicago. Lots of gray days, subzero temperatures, and snow everywhere. I already have trouble leaving the house but it really sucks when it’s cold, because who wants to go outside in those conditions? I have psychiatrist and weekly therapy appointments, and whatever else comes up to go to, so I have no choice.
The picture shows you how I dress in winter. It’s okay to laugh — this is not an exaggeration. I guess I’ve reached that age where I don’t care what I look like when I go out in the winter! Before trading it in for a more streamlined coat, I used to call this one Big Red. If you don’t want your feet to freeze, you have to wear insulated snow boots, as well. Just getting dressed is a hassle.
This past March, I made the decision to stop the ECT treatments I was undergoing at the time because for the first time since I’ve had them, they didn’t seem to be working. Shortly after that, I discovered meditation. I’m hoping that and the light box help get me through this winter without ECT, even though I’ll still have to pile on the clothing to get to my appointments.
Photos provided by author