When I finally found out seasonal depression existed, everything started to make sense. For many people, depression is triggered by a season – for most it is the cold months of winter. However, in my case depression always came knocking at my mind’s door in summer.
You probably wonder why summer? With the break from school, the heat, and vacation – who could possibly hate the months between May to August? Well, it’s easy. Just let me explain.
Summer never meant the same thing to me as it does for most people growing up. Though I lived in a fairly wealthy town in North-Eastern Pennsylvania, and vacationing and day-trips were always a thing for most people who knew the area as home – I was bored.
My boredom was produced from a higher degree of dissatisfaction than simply ‘having nothing to do’. With that boredom came deep sadness. I was always accessing my life – where I was, who I was – those sorts of coming-of-age questions. Yet, it hallowed my insides, replacing it with self-hate.
I grew up with a Dad that was always working, never around long enough to actually know him (though things have changed in the past few years). I also had a Mom that had Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, and suffered from depression and past eating disorders. You could say this set up was a catalyst for my own depressive thoughts. But, it was more than that.
I always had this heavy, and unbelievably noticeable distinction from everyone I grew up with. Yeah, I know what you might be thinking – like every other cliche coming-of-age book. But, there was a difference. I felt deeply. I thought deeply. I was highly retrospective – piecing apart and putting back together all the conversations and upsets from the past school year. I needed to pick each undesirable part of my life and feel pity for myself. I was wreaking myself more and more as the weeks turned into long hot months.
On a current note, but also very much essential to this, is that my old middle school and high school friends never cared about me. I had a feeling this was true when I was in high school, but as the past few years have collected themselves outside of the realm of colorful lockers and cafeteria lunches, I know my gut feeling was accurate. In the winter of my Senior year, my Mom had cheated on my Dad. My Dad was simultaneously out of work at the time. Life changed in mere days, hours even. At the time, I never felt comfortable enough to tell most of my friends what happened. Back then, I didn’t question why this was an odd course of action. I just felt, that maybe I would collapse the happy smiles on everyone’s faces, as they got ready for college. Yet, I was dying inside. Screaming. I knew my face read hurt, it read struggle, yet none of my friends would question my pain.
I felt truly alone. In the summers I could brood over my insecurities and imperfections. Not only did my friends not notice my depression, but neither had my family. Maybe, I had just been great at hiding it. Who knows?
However, the only two things that helped me during those endless months were reading and writing. Looking back, they sort of saved my soul (as lame as that sounds). They were a replacement for my wandering mind. A place I could go to when I wanted to push pause on my depression and place myself somewhere else. Anywhere else.
Now, years later since those awful summers, I still get that way from time to time. However, now it is different, now my depression and anxiety has spread across all of the months – some months are thicker with pain, while others are thinner. Yet, one thing has remained the same – my writing and reading will always be an exit for my helpless mind.