Monday, August 18, 2014

Seasonal Depression

If you have ever dealt with the sensation of gloom that a certain season/time frame causes your mind to move faster than a Sprint Cup NASCAR race on a hot Sunday afternoon, I'm here to tell you that it's about that time of year for me.

Since 2009, from about the middle of August till about middle-end of September, I have these depressive feelings creep up into my mind. They are difficult and challenging because my mind starts to race about all the things coming up in the future when it comes to conditions of life, what may happen, and the uncertainty of the future. It's odd, because during most of the year I'm rather confident, understanding, and very positive of my outlook on life. This time of year, has been a challenge for a while.

Examples of these depressive thoughts are:

- The Summer in the Pacific Northwest will be over in a couple months
- The sunshine won't make a regular appearance again for a while,
- The air will change & the smell of the seasons will be refreshing and clean but the feel will turn cold and damp
- School will start soon (and as much as I love school, it has a prison like feel to it and especially when in college, I never looked forward to the beginning of a new school year)
- Anxiety of starting new & meeting new people, not knowing where the friendships will grow from or if they will last.
- Knowing that the holiday season is right around the corner and that natural conflict & stress usually arises in family dynamics, along with knowing that I'm usually alone during that time.
- The sun rises around 9:30 am (maybe) and sets around 3:45 pm (at the earliest) from November till mid January.
- It rains... and that's about all it does.
- The chances to go play outside are nonexistent past September till about mid-April because of the oddity weather has in this part of the country.
- The fear of being rejected by new people, and potentially not making any new true solid friends, or knowing that any of them will be there to support.

It's a whole new lifestyle when the seasons change from summer to autumn here in the Pacific Northwest and for me, at least the past 5+ years, it's been a difficult transition. I intrinsically think a couple months ahead, and that transition (which is so drastic here for some reason) seems to always have me questioning, what the heck is going to happen? It makes me frightened because it will be cold, dark, wet, and the difficulty of work/school/stress/and conflicts that usually arise will only make it more overbearing than they would have been with the conditions we have right now which are more reassuring and comfortable then they will be in November. Living here, you are aware that conditions are not consistent from November till June and sometimes even July and knowing that and understanding that this is the last couple months of consistent weather and a time for relaxation, it feels like forever till it comes back, and with all the other life stresses that come along with it, it's almost worth just ending now because its so perfect.

This time of year is truly the best time of year to be in the Pacific Northwest. Outside of this time of year though, conditions, life's stresses, and natural changes with weather and the holidays, it always seems to have me questioning what the outcome will be and I resort to severe depressive thoughts... but only when I think outside of the sports hemisphere, because the moment sports creep back into my mind and I revolve my life around it, they save me from digging deeper in my head.

There is a reason why Sports are so ingrained in my lifestyle, because without them, I don't know where I could draw the happiness from with this such drastic change that will occur here in the next couple months.

When the sun hits that particular angle during the day, those insecure thoughts start racing through my head about all the conditions that will come forth in the upcoming months and the anxiety of not knowing if I can deal with them start to settle in. The depression truly starts to hit home and the thoughts of just ending it before the storm (from November to June) don't seem so bad for I am usually by myself in my own mind. Sports places me into a group, and without that group, cooping may be nonexistent.

The scariest part of all of this, is I am slowly starting to lose the grip on sports as an outlet. My life is evolving and I am valuing different things as my mind grows. I still have time to grow (they say your mind doesn't reach it's peak till 25, I'm 23). I fear that in the next year or two, sports won't be an outlet like it once was, and I fear that god may decide a different path for me. This is the scariest part of this time of year and I keep reaching for outlets, and unfortunately, they don't do the justice that sports provided me as a child. I'm truly terrified, for when my current outlets disappear from my reward pleasure center of my brain, that other outlets won't take the place sports did.

The craziest thing is, the only real time it's a worry is when it is around 4 pm till about 30 minutes before sunset is the hardest part. I allow myself to battle in my mind how not to be destructive towards myself. I have never, and never will, be destructive towards myself for it is selfish and illogical to do so. I have so much to live for, and I know that ultimately I serve a purpose. But, for the reasons I have stated above, it makes it seem so damn easy to end and believe me, that time frame I just mentioned... it makes running at a 6:45 per mile pace for 10 miles seem so mild.

When others bring up their bouts of depression, I don't sit there and laugh, say they are weak, tell them to suck it up because the mind can be a terrible thing. I try to remind people when they mention they are going through it to think about the people that care about them, the things they love to do, the outlets they go towards to get away from reality, ask for support, or to just listen and tell them that I am an ear that understands the battle between life and death that our minds grapple with from time to time.

Sometimes, an ear, words of advice, a conversation, or a supportive action (hanging out, watching TV together, playing a board game, etc.), can truly change the outcome of how the mind reacts to these bouts and life will usually come out the winner by unanimous decision.

I've come across many people who have seasonal depression in February, or even in July. Some people I've met have it right around December. I've also met people who have bouts with other mental illnesses where depression is the main anchor of their ability to grow the strength they need to manage life on life's terms. For some, it may already be too late, things have already been cemented in those people's minds that truthfully a common individual can't understand and can't help with. But for many, our sacrifices of our own time can have a butterfly effect that changes the impact on life forever whether we know it or not.

Opening up our hearts for people, hearing, listening, understanding. Our compassion will ultimately guide that thought of death and despair straight into the ground and cause life and potential to move forth and win.

So how does this relate back to sports?

Sports has an underlying tone that some people may not see or understand. For many, it's what I've described through this blog; Winning, losing, actions, and outcomes. But, there is always more (as a good businessman would say).

It can allow our hearts to heal, and allow time to pass when otherwise we were left without purpose to begin with. Sports is an outlet as much as anything else to whatever you may find gets you away from your reality. Recently, and especially this time of year, sports is a lot like Entertainment tonight. "Who is Johnny football tweeting today?" "Who went to jail for DUI or drug related instances at this minute?" or "Who missed their scheduled meeting?" So like I've been saying, the sports world news is tough to come by but their has been some bright lights.

Mo'ne Davis has made throwing like a girl a different term, Johnny Football still runs the sports landscape and the Baseball season is heading towards the stretch run.

My Major NFL Preseason blog for 2014 will be out next Monday. Be prepared for it, for it will have gobs of knowledge that you can take into the regular season and be hyped for your team! Have fun till then, and be aware of people with Seasonal Depression. The pain is real, and help someone out today.

See you next week.

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