“For the most part, my solutions to human problems have been simple ones—get more rest, do good work, take things a day at a time, and find some people to love.” –Mary Pipher, “Letters to a Young Therapist”
It’s getting to be that time of year. I love fall. I love watching the leaves turn color and driving through lilting piles of brown husks to hear the satisfying crunch beneath my wheels. I love fall, but my brain most decidedly does not. I’m a seasonal affective baby, and Minnesotan winters are long, not to mention bitterly cold. I can already feel myself slipping into a depressive episode.
I’ve gotten better at predicting my depressive episodes, largely because I feel them in my body. Sometimes it takes everything in me not to sleep in, to ignore the rest of the world, and to burrow into my cocoon of warmth. I spend my days listless and bleary-eyed, chipping away at my class readings. I think about doing something creative — working on my book, maybe, or making another zine — but I always end up watching TV, or scrolling through Pinterest, or refreshing Tumblr for the hundredth time. It’s a drowsiness I cannot shake, a heaviness that follows me throughout the day.
Life seems so monotonous sometimes, especially during the fall. Gray skies, window panes blurred with raindrops. Textbook chapter after textbook chapter. I’m waiting impatiently for the next season of “Arrow“ to start. I roll out of bed each morning and stare down the rhythm of living. Weeks blur into each other, entire months passing by before I can get a decent grip on any one day.
Some would argue there is no meaning in life. I, for one, have grappled with that possibility for years now, thanks to my SMA and the body I live in that’s never quite worked right. Life seems so monotonous sometimes. Which, admittedly, is the depression brain talking. But this year I am fighting off the seasonal blues by finding meaning in the little things. The look of joy on my carer’s daughter’s face when she sees herself in the mirror. We stopped at Goodwill today, and she was practically beside herself when she tried on a Halloween costume, transforming first into a cupcake, then a llama. She loved it. I loved that she loved it. I can’t help but wonder how my depression would fare if, like that little girl, I approached everything with such … vitality.
I’m reading “Letters to a Young Therapist“ by Mary Pipher for class this semester, and it’s one of those books that leaves you feeling heavy, but in a good, achy way. She talks a lot about slowing down. What it means to be human, and the process involved in that, in becoming a better human; in loving and making mistakes and being like my carer’s daughter preening at herself in the Goodwill mirror. Life may be monotonous, but what is life without monotony? There is beauty in the rhythm of living, if you take the time to find it. I like to think Mary would agree with me.
So, I will continue to romanticize my stupid, meaningless rituals. I will light my blueberry scone candle, chip away at my assigned reading, and eat until stuffed. There is no other life than this. And even when my depression brain disagrees, I will choose to believe there is a point to gray, sticky days, trees burning gold at the edge of my vision.
Note: SMA News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of SMA News Today, or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to spinal muscular atrophy.
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