When You Love Autumn, But Your Mental Health Doesn’t

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Like any British twenty-something basic bitch, I bloody love autumn.

Or, y’know, correction: I bloody love the idea of autumn.

The hygge nights-in surrounded by pumpkin-scented candles and mulled hot drinks, the sheer cosiness of wrapping up in a chunky roll neck jumper and scarf the size of a double duvet, and the excitement and anticipation for twinkly lights and Christmas shopping that fills the air.

It’s a pretty magical time of year, y’know?

The only problem is my mind.

Because – like a large percentage of you, I’m sure – my mind’s like NOPE. Hannah hun, we HATE this time of year, we don’t do the colder months. We don’t like the darkness. We don’t like sadness that lingers on days where the sky is downbeat and grey. We don’t like having cold toes and cold noses. And we don’t like that unshakeable fear that lighter, longer days are still so damn far away. They’re out of reach. We’re drowning in murky clouds and long, long nights that drift on forever. It threatens to flatten you, to overwhelm you, to consume you.

SAD has this ability to make you see the bleakness in every situation. It drains you of energy and motivation and strips you of the sassy, go-getting, glittery version of yourself that you’re used to.

The amount I suffer each year fluctuates, and because of that it means I struggle to enjoy that last burst of summer, because I’m anxious of the unknown emotions the inevitable change of season will bring.

I first discovered Seasonal Affective Disorder had a neat little grip on my life, one drizzly, super cold evening in 2012.

I was sat in my local Virgin Active car park with one of my oldest friends. We’d just finished off a post-work swim and were about to head on over to Sainsbury’s for some salad ingredients. Summer bodies are made in winter and all that marketing bullshit.

I was feeling glum. I wondered aloud if maybe I had SAD, half as a bit of a joke, and half as a bit of bait.

And my friend (HI TYLER – she’s asked me before why I never name her when I bring her up in blog posts, so here you go T-dog, your name in capitals), literally stopped the car, pulled on her hand brake and went all ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME on my ass.

‘For as long as I’ve known you, you’re always miserable in October and November. Always. Every year’.

It was only a few weeks after that, that I took myself off to my GP’s office and was prescribed antidepressants for the first time.

We glamourise autumn on social media, we build it up long before the leaves even think about turning warm shades of sunshine yellow and drifting elegantly to the ground. We discuss how it’s the most heavenly time of year, taking photos of Pumpkin Spice Lattes, deep red manicures and fluffy bobble hats (guilty, guilty and, well… guilty). But actually, the reality is a lot different for so many of us.

It’s a time of anxiety, extreme tiredness and a deep dread upon waking up in the morning.

(Even though yes, yes you understand there are people in the world suffering from much worse things than a bit of darkness – but it still doesn’t stop you from feeling, well, just a bit shit).

So this autumn, after a very full on year, I’m going to cut myself some slack.

Because life isn’t measured by how many hours you’ve clocked up in the office, because, and this is ground-breaking, life isn’t measured at all.

Without being morbid, we will, all die. And there’s no-one at the end saying oh jeez Hannah, we can’t bury you because it says here you’re actually 392 hours short of your allocated WORKING V V HARD hours.

I’m going to invest in an SAD lamp, and more candles than I could ever need. I’m going to take life at a hibernating raccoon kinda pace.

(Do raccoons hibernate?)

Because, my health, and especially my mental health, comes above all else. It comes above doing my emails at 7.30am in the morning through bleary eyes and sashaying into London for 16-hour days of meetings, events and photos.

The content will be regular (especially whilst I’m still high on the buzz of OMG NEW BLOG DESIGN), but on those days where I need to just lie, to just be, to repair myself like an old badger taking a snooze in a nettle bush, I’m not going to burrow myself into a pit of guilt.

Life is for living and you can’t live, really truly deeply live, unless you’re feeling your best and listening to what your brain – and your body – needs.

So brain, I’ma put you first this winter because boy do I have some grand plans for 2017 and I need you in tip top condition…

 

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