Around October, I always start to feel down. The depressive thoughts creep in before I even know what hit me. I love fall, but for some reason I am saddened by it as well. When the rush of the cinnamon, nutmeg, and pumpkin spice smells fill my nostrils the gloom begins to cloud into my brain. The sight of pumpkins and gourds trigger emotions from my past. However, at the same time the beginning of fall is a great joy to me too. I enjoy Halloween’ish type of things. All the magnificent colors and the breezes that cascade over my flesh feel so wonderful. I like the things that lurk in the shadows, LOVE black cats, (used to have two) full moons, bats, and all the other sorts of things that pop into one’s mind when thinking of “Americanized” Halloween celebrations.
My happy-sad state stays throughout the winter.
Then, around March I start to feel a little bit of my chipperness come back. When fall ripples through I begin to see the world differently – literally my eyesight has like a nostalgic haze that covers everything. There seems to be a slight buzz as though the colors all have come alive in some new way. Their sounds become crisper and louder. They move in slow motion type of tracers (no doubt my synesthesia plays a role in this.) and my days feel like I am in a movie all the time. The state of feeling like nothing is real, but it is utterly real simultaneously. I find it difficult to describe. I have tried on several occasions on here, but I still have not found the most accurate of ways to explain it. I do know that part of this could be from the MANY triggers I have from the holidays.
They assault me in all directions sensory, emotionally, and physically!
This month has already started with family triggers. This coming weekend family is coming in for the big half marathon. My dad and one of my sisters, along with a couple of other family members are running. This side of the family is so competitive – competition makes me uncomfortable and fills me with anxiety. Unfortunately, the sister that is coming is one that I have many triggers with – I find her incredibly confusing and abrasive. I have not seen her is several years which, gives me additional anxiety. However, I am determined to not allow her behaviors or snide comments affect my responses or my mood.
I really have no desire to engage with her.
Every time I think of possible scenarios, I respond in the same way – with no response. Before when my mind would rush with possible situations, actions, or words being spoken to me I would think of all the possible things, I could say to counter her or protect myself. I have not done that and my mind keeps thinking who cares! Why do I care what she says, she does not know me. She thinks I am a freak. I am virtually nonexistent to her unless my dad pays attention to me or other family member’s acknowledge me then; she “remembers” that I exist. So I really do not need to waste time on thinking of the “what if’s.” It is only a few hours on one day out of my life.
I will expect any possible thing to come from her and not worry about what she may or may not do.
Who knows, maybe she will surprise me and it will all be pleasant. Though, she is consistent so it is certain that she will behave in the way she has her entire life. I no longer need to try to figure her out or protect myself from things that have no bearing on who I am or what I do. I did not realize how much of my depressive thought could be stemmed from the multitude of anxious thoughts I have in regards to family dynamics. The holidays are bittersweet for me. I enjoy being with many of my family members. Despite the fact that no one really acknowledges autism. :-/ Baby steps?? However, they are very loud, huggy, competitive, sometimes very crass, opinionated, and can be quite self-focused.
They are also, very generous, caring, funny, talented, and quite entertaining to be around.
This year, I have decided to make changes in preparation for the weather and time change, along with my mood change. I have added several more workouts to my week to help me transition into the fall. It has helped me a great deal. I added more intense physical workouts instead of only cardio – I have seen a big difference in my transitioning from an anxious state to finding my “calm” again. I have quicker recovery time. I was doing one spin class (stationary bike) and piloxing, but now I have added a boot camp on Wednesdays, TRX which is “Suspension Training bodyweight exercise develops strength, balance, flexibility and core stability simultaneously.”
TRX has helped me with my “clumsiness”, vertigo, falling, and running into things.
It has helped my core muscles build up to help my balance and lower back pain. I had no idea that it would help me so much, but it does. I have a hard time staying in the suspensions, but I am getting better each time I do it. My new favorite workout is called Kravfit. The best way to describe it is to say that it is a mixture of martial arts, kickboxing, bootcamp (circuit trainer), and self-defense. Oh, yeah! I love it! I am not going to be able to do all of this during the winter months so my plan is to continue three out of the week Monday, Thursday, and Saturday. As well as rotate TRX and piloxing for a while.
I have finally found a diet that is working for me so I eat the same things everyday for the most part.
I have many difficulties with proteins, dairy; many processed foods make me feel drained and tired. I stick with plain veggies, salads, chicken and egg whites. However, this does not bode well when you are burning a ton of calories so I am trying to pump up my caloric intake. I made changes several months ago with my diet and noticed a change in my anxiety and my fatigue. I started taking vitamins and some supplements too that have made a difference for me. I have never been able to take vitamins without stomach problems or other physical reactions.
I was excited to find some that did not cause me such problems.
They are gummies the Vitafusion™ brand MultiVites™, B-Complex, Vitamin D, and Omega 3. I get the Target brand and they work well too. (I do not get any kickbacks for sharing I thought others might have similar issues as I do with taking vitamins and supplements – if they do not make me sick that is awesome! I am highly sensitive to those types of things.) I still have anxiety (A LOT) and get fatigued, but the change is the length of time that I am suffering from some of the symptoms. The changes in my thinking (practicing mindfulness) have helped in this area too, but that leads me back to my first thought – October brings about depressive thoughts. I am happier during the summer because I love to be outside and I spend most of my time outside.
When the cold comes, it is like daggers attacking my flesh all the time.
The dreary sky for days and days can eat away at my jolly mood and I can feel myself sink into negative stimming patterns. They are connected to family, triggers, and other traumatic events that have happened to me during the holidays. Holidays do not represent fun, festive, happy times they represent pain, tears, isolation, and feelings of awkwardness, feeling wrong, unwanted, and utterly confused. I have managed to work through each year to gather many happy memories since my kids have been born. We are creating our ways of celebrating, but the pain is still there. The trauma is still there and when I know I have to face those who traumatized me with a “happy” face I become overwhelmed with anxiety and sometimes downright fear.
This year, I am going to try new strategies.
I have better coping mechanisms – I know some of my “main” triggers. I know how to handle my anxiety in ways that are more positive. I have learned not to take other people’s “issues” or “insecurities” personal. I will have an emotional reaction and may be hurt, but I can see it for what it is and it has nothing to do with me. I will not feel bad or guilty if I am unable to stay the whole time at family events – my kids come first and if they are overwhelmed or the environment is too much for them we will not stay or even go.
If I am feeling overwhelmed or overly anxious I will not go.
AND I will not feel bad about myself for making that decision. I am also, looking into a SAD (seasonal affective disorder) lamp or lighting, or some other possibilities to get me through this winter. I think being mindful and aware of how the seasons affect me will make a huge difference this year. In the past, I felt helpless and unable to have any control over these things. I felt like I was in a constant state of “unexpected attack!” Now I feel that I have a better understanding of myself. I also, feel that I have legitimate reasons as to why I go through this each year.
I had spent many years, feeling like a failure and as though I “should” be able to stop these emotions.
I felt that I “should” not feel confused, awkward, or sad being around family. I felt like something was wrong with me because I did not enjoy the holidays as others seemed to. However, the truth is that I do feel that way and there is nothing wrong with that. I have mixed feelings of enjoying parts of it and despising other parts of it, but this year I am determined to have a better attitude of acceptance for myself and doing what I need to do in order to keep a healthy mental and physical balance. The holidays, egads!
Here are a few related reads!
- Physical Activity: Cheapest and most effective therapy!
- Physical Activity and Stress Management
- 10 Things You Didn’t Know About Seasonal Affective Disorder
- Surviving the Holidays with Autism by Corina Becker