I was up early this morning to get my eldest dog, Woofie, to the vet for a teeth cleaning. He knew something was up when he didn’t get breakfast. On my way home from dropping him at the vet, I saw a shockingly bright yellow patch of leaves way up high on an otherwise green leafed tree. So beautiful! It’s coming! Fall is creeping up on us.
Fall is my favorite season. I love the cooler weather, the changing leaves, the brilliant colors, and especially the light.
What I don’t like about the fall is sliding back and away from daylight savings… and the potential for depression to set in. I have thought long and hard about what it is I can do to prevent depression, if and when it arrives. First of all, I try to decipher if what I’m feeling is a low mood because of environmental circumstances or the beginning of a depression that will take me out like a punch in the face. If my low mood is because of circumstances in my life I try to deal with those first because, once dealt with, the depression will lift. Some of these environmental circumstances can be: bills, a slight from a friend, my truck being on the fritz, bills, one of my dogs getting into something like garbage or a porcupine, bills.
I remember years ago, before I began taking the medication that really helps, I would lie on my bed in the late afternoon when the sun flooded my bed and make sure I got 15 minutes of sun on the backs of my knees. That trick helps for environmental depression as does a light box. When the lack of light becomes a serious issue in late fall, winter and early spring, I place a light box on my kitchen counter so it shines on me first thing in the morning when I’m making coffee and oatmeal. I bought a very small light box with a powerful light output last winter. It has a stand and I can place it just about anywhere, excluding the shower or my truck. I can take it from room to room without a hassle. To know if your light box is working, turn it on and observe your mood. Then turn it back off and observe your mood. I’m always quite amazed when I do this trick. I should have been born a tree because light affects me in radical ways; I smile more, life doesn’t feel so heavy, my body doesn’t feel so heavy and sick and tired.
In my case, having a light box doesn’t repel chronic depression; the kind of depression that slams you in the face. I have lived with chronic depression for most of my life. I tried to figure out how to lift my mood without medication but even with exercise and light and eating the right things, I fell down the black hole. So, I take the medication my doctor prescribes and I use the light box and the sitting in the sun trick.
Fall isn’t as scary as it used to be; I know the little tricks that help so I can truly enjoy the descent of this season. I don’t walk in the woods because bears are out but that’s about the only thing that’s holding me back these days. It won’t be until next spring that I’ll have to withhold light because of mania. Wowzers! Life with bipolar disorder can be challenging but it’s possible to live a good life, thank goodness.