As the season changes and the weather warms, I find myself entering my yearly reverse seasonal depression spell. Some people get depressed during the fall and winter. Me? I become an abyss of despair and unease that only grows deeper and darker as the days become sunnier. I always thought it was strange that when everyone else’s spirits are lifted, mine are dead on the ground. I’ve forced myself to get up and go outside every single day for the past few weeks. I’ve walked for hours, taken ample breaks from working, tried to eat clean and healthy foods, and exercised no matter how lazy and tired I felt. I thought that perhaps with all of these changes, I would fend off my anxiety and keep my seasonal depression at bay. But alas, despite my many efforts, I was still struggling to get out of bed every morning and get through my day without overwhelming worry.
I sat for a long time and thought about what exactly this could mean. Did this mean I was doomed to spend the rest of my springs and summers miserable? It made sense for people to feel this way during fall and winter, but were my good weather months doomed? I started to take note of how I felt and when I felt it. I made a special effort to recognize patterns, analyze mood shifts, and talk to myself inside when an anxious thought would race through my mind. After some time, I realized what was happening inside me.
I have come to feel so content, cozy, and safe in fall and winter because I connect those times of my life to slowing down. Taking stock of my life. Resetting and dedicating myself to my wellness and well-being. Spending time with people I love in environments where I feel safest. The cold makes me feel safe. The warm weather, I now realize, I associate with an abundance of energy. With constantly moving, no excuses to settle down. With moving from one thing to the next with no break. Because it’s summer, it’s beautiful out, and there’s so much to do and so much that must be done — why wouldn’t you be doing all these things?
While I would walk, I thought about how I should be running. While I would run, I would think about how I should be working. While I worked, I felt guilty for being inside on such a nice day. When I did anything without my dog, I felt bad keeping her cooped up at home in the spring weather. There was never a moment that passed where I felt content to be doing exactly what I was at that given moment. Every single time, without fail, I knew there was something more productive, more summer-esque, more valuable than what I was doing right then. I was never in the moment. In fact, I was afraid of the moment. Afraid that the moment wouldn’t be good enough. Afraid my mind would wander somewhere I didn’t want it to go. All I knew was that there was something better out there, and despite whatever I was doing right then, it wasn’t enough to keep me distracted. The anxiety of being where I shouldn’t be never got me any closer to the destination that I sought.
After having this realization, or epiphany, I felt like a new person. I began to embrace the idea that it's okay to be content with where I am and what I'm doing in the present moment. I realized that there's nothing inherently wrong with my current situation and that sometimes the best thing I can do is be fully present in the here and now. So if I'm taking a walk instead of working, or spending time with a friend instead of doing laundry, I'm doing exactly what I need to be doing at that moment. Similarly, if I'm missing out on a fun day at the beach because I'm preparing meals for the week, that's okay too.
Ultimately, we are all defined by the moments we exist in right now.
This morning, while I was savoring my coffee, I found myself feeling anxious about the time I might be wasting that could be used for wiping counters or vacuuming before starting work. But then I took a deep breath and reminded myself that what matters the most is right now. And right then was exactly where I needed to be for a moment.