Accepting the darkness…
I think I was around 12 or 13 when I first noticed that the change in seasons really affected me. For a few weeks sometime around October/November time, my mood would take a deep dive, and I’d have this overwhelming sense of darkness, anxiety and sadness.
Then poof! – like magic one day, it would suddenly lift and I’d feel like myself again.
Every year, I lived in dread of the seasons changing, the sense of impending darkness looming as I prepared for the inevitable shadow that would arrive and hang over me, throwing me into a kind of mental tailspin. I knew it was a form of seasonal affective disorder – I’m deeply sensitive to energy change like full moons, other people’s energy, etc – but I still seemed to resist it; I hated that it happened, I didn’t want it and every year, without fail, I would fight against it.
This went on for about 10 years, until eventually I gave up the fight. Instead of wishing it didn’t happen, I started to accept that it just was, and that while I didn’t have any power over it showing up, I had all the power over how I managed it.
See here’s the thing about many of the ‘dark’ emotions we experience in life – it’s not so much them in themselves that causes the suffering, but the resistance we have to them. We don’t like them, so we try push them down, ignoring them and using things like numbing and distraction to keep ourselves from feeling them. Which would be a fabulous solution if it worked. But it doesn’t. Because by the very act of trying to suppress our emotions, we give them more power – you know when a child wants your attention and repeatedly calls you? That’s basically your emotions when you try ignore them – they ain’t backing down and without the attention they need, they’re just going to get louder and stronger and more intense. You can pretend they’re not there, but eventually they’ll end up screaming at you!
Gradually, as I just leaned into my experience, the amount of time it took me to adjust shortened dramatically, and I’d find myself back to ‘normal’ (whatever that is, right?!) much more quickly. As little as a couple of days.
For the past 2 years, I’ve not only had no symptoms at all, but I actually love autumn now!!! The crisp air, clear sunny skies and all the incredible rich autumnal colours. It’s a fabulous time!
A time that used to bring so much darkness is now one of my favourite seasons.
When we try to push something down and pretend it’s not happening, we create *so* much more needless suffering for ourselves. We give it more power, fuelling it to get even bigger and more harmful than it ever was to begin with. By simply giving up the fight, accepting what is, getting curious about what’s happening for us and showing lots of self-compassion in the process, we allow ourselves to move through the pain so much faster, releasing it so that we can move on with life.
So here’s to self-acceptance, mindful presence, compassion, crunchy leaves and pumpkin spice lattes