Although there is something super special about the spring for me, the fall is my favourite season. It’s not just because of sweaters, tall boots, hot lattes, and leggings though. My love goes much deeper than that.
Fall is marked every September by something incredible–a new beginning.
When we were in grade school, high school, and even college, the fall was marked by the start of school. It was a defining moment; it was a moment we could recreate ourselves and start fresh. Gone was the ‘us’ of yesteryear. Everything we were could be revamped and renewed.
Part of the problem (as I see it) with adulthood is we miss that–we get stuck in this non-stop, revolving life. Though one could argue we have New Year’s, it’s not the same thing. The “new self” we try to present with the new year often fades within weeks as we settle back into our usual routines.
We become trapped in this ongoing, never-ending circle of work, life, family, commitments, and anything else we pile onto our plates.
We forget to stop, assess, see where we are, look at who we want to become, and give ourselves a fresh start.
While I am not returning to school–much to my dismay–this September I have needed to revisit the time of reinventing and renewing oneself. Over the past two years of chaos and loss, destruction and dismay, I have become buried by expectations and by the desire to simply survive.
I didn’t want to admit I was depressed or face it head on because it became a wall for me. It helped me to avoid feeling and facing things; it helped me avoid processing them. My inner self was so spun round and lost amidst these things I didn’t want to deal with that I couldn’t even isolate the source of the depression.
I thought I was strong enough. Despite all evidence to the contrary, I believed I could just keep moving on and one day, the depression would magically vanish, taking all feelings with it. But that’s the thing about this volatile beast–it rarely vanishes. More often, it grows, becoming darker and more deadly every moment it’s allowed to reside inside of you.
Eventually, this ever-growing darkness breaks the camel’s back. Eventually, you snap.
When everything becomes too much to bear, your mind eventually gives out and you feel like you’re drowning.
At first, I felt like this meant I was a failure. Seven years of keeping my beast at bay and here it was, gnashing at the doorstep and ready to tear me to shreds. I thought the return of the depression meant my learning to control my BiPolar was a lie. That somehow, I wasn’t good enough or strong enough.
But it’s not my fault. Eventually, something shifts, something changes, and BiPolar can find a foothold. It doesn’t make me weak or a failure–it is what it is.
As I crashed and burned at the end of August, I was given a metaphorical slap up the head. A reminder by those who cared that I needed to get my head out of my ass and get out of my own way.
I may not be at fault for the depression, for the flaring of the BiPolar, but that doesn’t mean I get off scott-free.
If I want to move forward, if I want to be able to reclaim myself, I need to be able to recognize the things I do that give power to the depression. Things like saying yes to too many projects, or helping too many people. The desperation telling me I have to work all the time or I’m lazy. The obsession hammering into my head if my house isn’t perfect and spotless, it’s disgusting and an embarrassment.
As long as I continue to overburden myself and over-extend myself, I’ll continue to drown in all the things I’m trying to accomplish.
The timing of September coincided perfectly with this lesson to be learned. For the first time since 2007, I am taking the time to stop, assess, and rebuild. This year, sometimes that means saying no when someone asks for my help. It means saying ‘I’m sorry, I’m unable to fulfil my commitment’ to some things I desperately wanted to be a part of.
It means making me a priority so I can one day make other things a priority again.
Most importantly, it means finding myself again. Much like God talks about breaking down the clay to mold it and make it into something new, I need to redesign and restructure myself.
It’s not easy, it’s not smooth, but it’s working. And that’s all anyone can really ask for.