Springtime Depression: Don’t Worry About Not Being Happy


Spring officially began yesterday!

lilac.jpgAwhile back blogger Valerie Reiss wrote a poignant post on Springtime depression. I found it very comforting because, although I am energized by the changing of seasons and more sunlight, I also feel pressured during the months of April and May to be one happy camper all of the time. Do you know what I mean?

I always hated April and May in college because I felt like such a sour puss for accidentally whining here or there, for not wearing the Colgate smile everyday on my way to class.

There are actually more suicides in April and May than in January and December, even though you’d think people would crash during or after Christmas, when the weatherman predicts a blizzard that will have your kids out of school for weeks.

The reason for the spikes during the spring? Depressives get the boost of energy they need to kill themselves. I know that sounds horrible, but it’s true. And I can’t help but think that part of it is that melancholic folks recognize the blast of sunshine and hope around them … their friends breaking out of their gray moods as they hop on the mountain bike for a long ride … and feel even more desperate because the sunshiny mood hasn’t made it to them, yet.

In her post, “Springtime Depression Is Touching My Soul,” Valerie writes:

Though I was calling it “Ungrateful for a Break in the Cold Gray Weather” and “Lame,” apparently some doctors have a kinder, more clinical term for the nice weather blues: “Spring Exacerbation.” No one knows why exactly suicides are at their highest this time of year, or why those suffering from SAD can get an extra dose of wham-slam when the sun re-appears. Some say sadness meets a slight energy lift–just enough to act on ruminations. Others speculate that there’s a feeling of “Wow it’s gorgeous out and I still feel crappy? That must mean I will never be happy.” Whatever it is, it’s true.

As someone who spent the weekend feeling absolutely blammoed by the extreme shift to utter gorgeousness, T.S. Eliot (above) makes sense. There’s something oddly comforting about the misery of winter, and a camaraderie with even those who aren’t normally depressed. When the sun comes and wrenches those lilacs from the earth and families and friends and couples all play frisbee and have picnics and talk about how happy they are, it’s almost too much to bear. And then that fact–that I’ve waited and prayed for spring and now I can’t even enjoy it–makes me feel like an ungrateful wretch in addition to completely alone and raw and skinless. The bad-thought pile-on.

I guess I’m writing about this for my own sense of needing to tell, but also to say to people who might think that no one else could possibly be bummed when the sun is beaming and the flowers are blooming–on a weekend no less–that you’re not alone. And from what I’ve read, things should start to level out again in June.

Valerie’s advice is spot on: Don’t feel pressured to have a FANTASTIC day because, well, everyone else is. Ease up a tad, and treat the day as you would any other … a few hours at a time, if you need to.

Originally published on Beyond Blue at Beliefnet.com

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Therese Borchard
I am a writer and chaplain trying to live a simple life in Annapolis, Maryland.

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2 Responses
  1. Kevin L Keough

    Curious. Holy Week has virtually always been tumultuous for me. Like major earthquake type disruption. I’ve wondered whether like “insecurely attached children” we aren’t inclined to rush over to greet the big person that left me alone for months. “Listen Sun–I am not impressed. You think you can ignore me all winter, make your appearance in Spring, and I will sing your praises. No! I reject you. Now you suffer (yes, I allow myself such bizarre thinking in the spring). In a related matter, we need to replace September with Spring as the new National Suicide Awareness Month. If you make a motion I will second the motion and it will be so. Alternatively, I make the motion (just made) and you make it so. Thanks Therese.