I should probably make a note of it somewhere. This Sunday, we turn our clocks back an hour — you know, “spring forward, fall back.” I usually never remember to do it until days later while constantly being confused as to what time it really is.
That phrase — spring forward, fall back — has always meant something to me, especially in recent years. It’s not necessarily a reminder to reset my clocks, but a reminder of how time itself passes by so quickly. It also reminds me that winter is coming.
Winter is my gloomiest period. The days and nights are colder, there’s less daylight and because of nerve damage in my feet (thank you, diabetes), I have to worry about getting around in the snow. At my age, I could break a hip.
Basically, I’m even more of a grump than I usually am.
This hasn’t always been the case. My therapist and I have talked about it a lot. I’m thinking this state of mind started when my twin brother passed away in September l994. Since then, starting in the fall and into the winter, I can never find much to get excited about.
Halloween? Whatever. My kids are all grown up. Halloween is for the young.
Thanksgiving? Oh yeah. It’s a day to be thankful there’s plenty of vodka in my apartment.
Christmas? Please. A day to try and just get through. After that is a new year of not enough sunny skies and no birds singing in the trees.
Have I cheered you up yet? Probably not. Let me explain where I’m coming from.
This past April, I wrote a column here called “Listening to the Birds Sing” where in I talked about what I’m suffering from. It’s depression, and I’ve probably suffered from it for years.
No doubt this has contributed to my often weary, negative state, but in the spring of 2008 I finally started dealing with the illness. This includes taking medication: Zoloft.
I got lucky with Zoloft. During Thanksgiving, I didn’t feel like putting my head in the oven. During the Christmas holiday, I actually went out and bought some gifts for my loved ones and enjoyed wrapping those gifts.
After the holidays, I ordered some special shoes to help me walk around in the snow, to keep me on my feet. I made an effort to get out and not stay in my apartment feeling depressed. I actually wanted to see people.
Now it’s time to “fall back” again. To be honest, I do feel those personal clouds starting to form back inside my head, but this has been the case for me for years. Now at least I recognize the signs and the signals enough to do something about it.
It’s probably not a good time to go off my medication. I’ve accepted the fact that good old Zoloft will be a part of me for the rest of my life. If a pill helps me to keep my spirits higher, so be it.
I also think I should start making plans for the colder months instead of being the negative person I am too often.
For example, I’ve been invited to a Halloween party. I think I’ll shock the hell out of everyone and actually show up this year.
For Thanksgiving, I’m thinking about fixing dinner for my two adult kids. I’m thinking about cooking a goose. It’s been a few years since I’ve prepared one and I remember enjoying it.
While I doubt if I’ll buy a Christmas tree this year, I’ll again buy and wrap presents for my kids and friends. I might even send out a few Christmas cards. I haven’t done that in years.
As for those winter months after the holidays, I might head down to Florida. Hopping on a plane is a good time anytime of year.
I have a younger brother who lives in Florida. It’s been a while since I’ve seen him. I can listen to the birds sing while we catch up with one another — maybe reminisce about the brother we both lost and recall those good times we all had together. Up until recently, it’s been too painful to look back on those days.
Since that column ran in April, I’ve spoken to several groups about depression, and I’ll continue that this winter. I think it does help to speak up, get it out in the open and let others know it’s all right and that they’re not alone.
I’ve come to recognize that depression means to find ways to cope. Every day I try to remind myself what’s good in this life. I remind myself that I’m blessed to have family and friends around me who love me, who are rooting for me and who want the best for me.
And as I stick a Post-It note to the side of my computer to remind myself to move those clocks back an hour this weekend, I also make a mental note to remind myself how fortunate I am.
I’m really quite lucky. I’m alive, damn it. I’m alive.
CONTACT LARRY GROSS: [email protected]