This morning, on my walk, it was windy, and I noticed a bunch of leaves come off the trees. It instantly triggered anxiety in me because leaves falling off trees means fall is coming and fall means winter is coming, and I've lived with seasonal (winter) depression for a decade.
Every single year, winter would take me down. Some years were better than others, but every one was hard. Over the years, I saw the pattern and knew what was coming, which was its own curse. When you know the next five months are going to destroy all the happiness you've made for yourself, it really takes the wind out of your sails. Eventually, the dread started to build as soon as spring began because I only had a limited time to come out of my deep winter rut and feel like myself again, plus store good feelings and memories to help prop me up through the next winter. While I started to feel anxiety year-round because of it, the underlying panic would start in the fall. Every year, I told myself, "This one is going to be better. I'm determined to make it so." But it was still the same, and I began to feel hopeless and powerless.
All of that came to me when I saw those leaves tumbling down—forshadowing the seasons ahead. It was really weird how such a benign thing could affect me so strongly. And then I remembered that I'm home, and it won't be like that anymore. I remembered that here, wintry days are mild and temporary, and that after a long summer, fall is a breath of fresh air, not something to be afraid of. Falling leaves are okay. I'm where I belong.