By Theresa Blume
My 10-month-old granddaughter and I have been taking long walks lately. In the stroller she sits up and quietly observes as we slowly proceed noticing every flower, butterfly, squirrel, mailbox, and stone in the road.
Last week I noticed that some houses already have fall decorations. When did it become fall? With all the rain we’ve had, I am still waiting for summer beach days!
Fall is my favorite time of year. I love the colors, the harvest, the migrations, and the cool windy days. But many people dread the end of summer, and as each day gets shorter, that feeling of dread becomes almost unbearable.
They have what is called Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). There are actually two types of SAD; the common one is winter depression, and the other not so well-known one is summer depression which starts in the spring and gets worse as summer progresses. Depression can become unexpectedly life-threatening if it is not treated, even if it is only seasonal.
Winter can isolate people with its shorter days, and higher heating bills, holiday pressures, more alcohol and less outdoor activity, and those with depressive tendencies can withdraw deep into darkness.
Of course, not everyone reacts this way. My oldest son looks forward to ice fishing like it’s a national holiday in itself. My other son counts down the seconds until football begins and spends every weekend watching the sport, followed by basketball, so he is not as affected by the weather. Other people love deer hunting, snowmobiling, cross country and downhill skiing, making snowmen, and tubing down a snowy hill.
But the depressed don’t feel the joy of the season, and feel even more misunderstood while others are having fun.
Maybe you’re thinking, “Suicide could never happen in our family!” But depression and suicide do not count status, and when someone commits suicide, very often family members are the last to know why.
What if each of us chose to be our brother and sister’s keeper and paid closer attention to loved ones, friends, and coworkers? Everybody has trials at times, whether it’s a health issue, a relationship problem, money challenges or job stress, but for some it is so overwhelming that they begin to think about ending it all.
Depressed people are less inclined to reach out, so we may never know the difference we might make by taking a minute to get to know how someone is doing.
When my granddaughter wants to be noticed, she looks at me and waits for me to say, “I see you!” Adults might not need to hear those particular words, but we all want to know that someone cares. There is tons of information about the different types of depression and how to deal with it, but it starts with regular people being nice to other regular people.
Join me in making an effort to be a shining light on a dark winter day for someone.