Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Autumn anxiety?

(This is another half-finished post from two years ago that I pulled from my drafts folder.)

Someone in an online loss group I frequent recently commented that she's been having a difficult time with panic attacks lately, and she wasn't sure why. Another member suggested it might be the changing of the seasons -- and several people confessed they too often felt their moods changing, as Labour Day signalled the unofficial end of summer. (The official end, of course, is coming soon enough...!)

And then I saw this article in the Huffington Post online. Apparently "autumn anxiety" is a thing. "Autumn is full of new things: new schedules, new jobs, new schools, new assignments," the article points out. (It also has suggestions for coping strategies.)

I don't think I have "autumn anxiety" (at least, not at this point... not yet...!). But, for the sake of this post ;)  let's say I did/do.  What's my excuse??  None of these "new" things apply to me at this point of my life. I no longer work or go to school, and I don't have kids who do either. We've been in our new condo in our new community for more than year now, and while we're still getting used to some things, we've developed a basic familiarity with the area and have developed some new routines.

And there's always a lot that I look forward to in the fall. I'm not into pumpkin spice lattes ;)  but I welcome the end of stifling heat & humidity (although that wasn't as much of a factor this year), the advent of the beautiful fall colours, and fewer people crowding the malls, etc., as kids go back to school and life returns to a more normal routine. I'm sad to give up my capris & sandals -- but there are certain long-sleeved T-shirts and sweaters that I'm always glad to dig out of the armoire again too. ;)

Many of us have heard of "seasonal anxiety disorder," or SAD. I always tended to associate it with the winter months -- say, November through February/March -- but it makes sense that it might begin or have its roots in the autumn.  Think about it:  the days are getting shorter/darker again. The weather is starting to get colder, which makes it harder to get outdoors. (When the capris & sandals go back into the closet and the long pants and sweaters come out, you know it won't be long before the heavy winter coat, boots, hats & mittens do too...!) A lot of people have seasonal allergies that kick in during the fall months and make them miserable. And even if we're not going back to school ourselves (or sending kids off to school), September is generally when groups, recreational classes and other activities that went dormant during the summer start up again. It's easy to get caught up in the atmosphere of busy-ness, if we aren't careful.

From an ALI perspective, autumn can certainly be a tough time of year.  Several childless-not-by-choice friends have confessed they find the "back to school" hoopla on social media (which tends to drag on for more than a month, starting in the States in early/mid-August and going on through early/mid-September) just as difficult to get through -- or even more so -- than Halloween or Christmas. Another reminder of what we don't have, the life we wanted but didn't get, what might have been, time passing by, etc.

For me personally, autumn does carry some sad reminders, beyond the back-to-school stuff. I spent most of August, all of September & the first few weeks of October 1998 at home, off work, recuperating from the physical, mental and emotional effects of stillbirth.  What should have been the last few months of my pregnancy (my due date was mid-November), a time of excitement and sweet anticipation, became the first few months of my new life -- a life I never wanted and certainly never expected to have. Could my annual "I hate November" blog rants be viewed as the last gasps of "autumn anxiety??

Right now, I'm feeling fine. :)  But if my posts start taking on a more melancholy tone over the next while (the closer we get to November...??!), autumn anxiety just might be a factor. ;)

Do you experience "autumn anxiety"? 


  1. I can see how the changing seasons would induce anxiety. Honestly, it all runs together for me at the moment, but there has been an uptick of flurry with the new school year, so I think my answer to your question is "yes."

    Now you've got me wondering if there's a depressive period too.

  2. Well, it doesn't really count here, as back-to-school time is pretty much in mid-summer, and for me I can celebrate that I still get another month (sometimes two or three) of summer freedom without kids clogging up the cafes and streets and beaches etc.

    I've certainly been feeling a real melancholy too the last week or so though. Perhaps it's the change of seasons - something to do with ions in the air maybe? - that makes me feel as if the year is racing by and I've not achieved very much.

  3. Just realized, this was post #100 for 2017!! :) If I can do 100 posts in a year, I figure I'm doing all right, & there's still 3.5 months to go... ;)

  4. Autumn is always the most stressful time of the year for my industry, and this year my stress seems to be on steroids. It's an interesting theory to associate fall with anxiety...makes sense. In the summer we're encouraged to relax, vacation, then suddenly it's back to our stressful life with multiple streams of new activity. Our bodies hold on to memories, certain smells and other sense-based reminders which are probably activated every year at this time. Also, Sept 11 was such a stressful and awful day, and if you were alive for that and remember it, there's that too.

  5. I should also have mentioned that my beloved grandfather died in mid-October 1998, just days after I returned to work after losing Katie... and then my grandmother died just short of a year after that... which also contributes to the melancholy I sometimes feel at this time of year.