September Slump

I’ve decided that September is my least favorite month. It’s not the coldest or the longest, but in my experience, it’s the saddest. I had hopes for this September—not very high ones, I’ll admit, but I was still optimistic that it might be okay for once. After all, I’m home, comfortably enrolled in an online school, and have some exciting new projects I’m hard at work on. But recent events in my personal life have made “taking back September,” as my therapist so eloquently puts it, a difficult feat.

I’m currently writing this post in South Hampton. I’m in a beautiful place with nice people, working Wi-Fi, decent physical health, and plenty to look forward to, and I’m not having a good time. On the contrary, I can’t wait for vacation to end so I can go home. It’s thinking like that that makes me wonder: what’s wrong with me?

That, in of itself, is a loaded question. One important thing to note is that I have Seasonal Affective Disorder. I wrote a post on SAD ages ago (you can check it out here), but basically what it means is that my mood dips when the seasons change, the temperature drops, and there’s less sunlight. I have my lightbox and antidepressant, but neither is a cure-all. Acknowledging that I will feel sadder and more tired at this time of the year, that there’s nothing I can do about it, and, most importantly, that there’s nothing to feel guilty or ashamed of, is important for my wellbeing. I’m the type of person who always likes to be productive and will work myself to the point of exhaustion. I have to accept that because of my mental health, I won’t get as much done during the colder months, and that’s okay. I owe myself that much.

In addition to SAD, there are the bad memories of past Septembers: eighth grade, when I spiraled into my eating disorder; ninth grade, the first time I was admitted to the hospital; and, of course, last year: my epic college flop.

I don’t talk a lot about college because it was such a disaster. Having to medically withdraw—and after such a short period of time too—was a reminder that my eating disorder was still very active and could return to wreak havoc on my life at the slightest sign of weakness. Even though I was able to rebound and get my life together, the memories, especially at this time, exactly one year later, are still so present and upsetting.

Talking about them helps. Venting to my parents and my therapist, people who have been there for me when I was at my worst and who I know will listen to me without judgment or criticism, is good when I need to get something off my chest. Of course, writing helps a lot too. Maybe not on this blog—yet—but in the new stories, fact and fiction, I’m working diligently on.

So, will this be the year I reclaim September? I think not. The best that I can do, I’ve decided, is to simply get through it while trying to focus on the positives. Things like the online cookbook, Nourish, my mom and I recently launched, the abundance of pumpkin spice foods, the fact that one of my favorite TV shows cleaned up at the Emmys, the four-thousand-piece jigsaw puzzle in my living room, my adorable therapy cat, Chibi, the upcoming release of my third book. I have a lot to feel good about it, and even if it doesn’t “fix” my depression or break this slump I’m in, it’s somewhere to start.

3 Comments on “September Slump”

  1. Pingback: I Can’t Sleep | Julia Tannenbaum

  2. Sleepless nights, claustrophobic thoughts of airplane travel, and the impending doom of an IV needle being shoved into my throbbing vein all strangely conjure up a similar thought: FUCK! When faced with these, I go to one of two happy places.

    Sleepless nights – I think of my girlfriend (keep reading, it will pertain to you as well) on my right shoulder as she falls asleep. I always stayed awake until I knew she was asleep and only then would I follow. I think of her on sleepless nights. Single? Don’t know what it’s like to share a bed? Okay. Snuggle with a designated, special pillow. It is your soft, furry, warm kitty or doggie. Follow her slow, shallow, content breathing. Feel her peace. Feel her stillness. Feel her warmth. She is asleep. You deserve to be asleep also. Follow her. Sleep.

    Or, I regress to the happy days as a kid at my family’s beach by the shore. I’m a kid on the beach after lunch. My belly is full. I am sleepy. I am warm. Mom is next to me reading. I feel safe. I’m lying on my kid-size pop-belly under the umbrella. I feel the warm sea breeze and the kids, the seagulls, the radios, the motor boats all become one soothing sound. I sleep. At some point, Mom covers me with a beach blanket. I sleep more soundly.

    I use the same two imageries while on airplanes to fend off the feelings of enclosure and doom of a crash. I sleep. Before my routine IV needle gets shoved into my throbbing vein, I’m on the beach. The RN’s hands are warm rays of sun and the blanket draped over me while I sit in the chair is a beach towel that Mom put on me at the beach because Mom always knows what to do. The needle stab… I didn’t feel it. The shitty, frightening airplane flight, I slept through it. The sleepless night, vanish.

    September sucks for you. That’s October for me. Most things bad happened to me in October. So when Oct came, so did the shitty pain from the past and it ruined my October and then my November and then my December and by January, I was a shitty, miserable mess with S.A.D. in fill force and a bottle clung to my hand. Not this year.

    I just entered month eight of a 12-Step program. My psychiatrist recommended “Winter Blues. Seasonal Affective Disorder. What is it and How to Recovery From It” by Norman E. Rosenthal, M.D. Copyright 1998. 1998?!?! I said the same thing. I was assured even though the list of meds and info on light boxes are outdated, but the theories of SAD are still solid.

    Tomorrow is the anniversary of my marriage from over a decade ago. A marriage that I never should have gone through with. A marriage that ended with me feeling destroyed. A marriage that took three years of therapy to straighten out my head from. It is also the birthday of a good friend who was at my wedding that I regret going through with. So instead of 2 x 4’ing myself from my decision (beating myself up) from so many years ago, I CHOOSE to think of tomorrow as the anniversary of my friend’s big birthday bash in a barn (yes, my reception was in a 200+ year old barn!).

    This is also the time of year that brings me back to October 2015 when I had to end my relationship with the woman that I spoke of earlier. Instead of reliving the anger associated with being forced to part ways with her, I CHOOSE to celebrate the time we spent together on the beach by her Cape house and hiking in the Colorado mountains.

    “You will deal best with the [negative] anniversary if you acknowledge its power over you, the impact it has on you, and recognize that as the anniversary passes, the pain associated with the memory will diminish in its intensity.” Rosenthal, p223.

    As we say in A.A., “We will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it. Will comprehend the word serenity and we will know peace.” AA pp 82-83.

    I hope this helps to make all of your future Septembers not be sucky.

    I hope this helps you sleep. You deserve it.

    Be well!


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