• Rachel Paige

Don't Take My Sunshine

I hate November.

I’m always tired in November. Everything takes more energy than it should. And at the same time, November is the time of the semester when everything is due. But getting dressed and going to class takes all my energy for the day. So when it comes to the growing to-do list, I have nothing left.

I find myself pushing things to the next day, then the next day, then the next day. Suddenly, I have a 10-page paper due in less than 24 hours, no groceries, and I haven’t done laundry in weeks. Which makes me feel overwhelmed, because I’m behind on my entire life and feel like there is no possible way I can every catch up and I just want to sit down and breathe for a while.

Why am I so tired? Why is November so much worse than any other month of the year?

Because the sun is gone.

November is when it gets dark early and the sun is hidden behind clouds all day. And where I live, November is the start of a long, cold winter. As soon as November hits, I know it’ll be months until I want to go outside. Months until I see grass or flowers. Months until I truly feel the sun’s warmth.

The idea of that makes me feel… well, droopy. My brain feels slow and I have this vague sense that I need to take a deep breath but can't. Everything takes more energy in November.

Because I need sunshine. I need to be outside. I need the oxygen and the flowers and the light that disappears when November comes.

Most people with depression experience this. You see, vitamin D is important. A lack of it doesn’t cause depression, but it can make it a whole lot worse. In November, the sun goes away and takes all the vitamin D, and my energy, with it.

I’m overwhelmed with the weight of life and I want to stay inside under a blanket and not move. But I know that the more I do that, the worse I’ll feel.

Because hiding under a blanket isn’t resting. It will make me more tired. Because when my body isn’t moving, my mind isn’t moving. And when my mind isn’t moving, nothing on the to-do list gets done. And when nothing on the to do list gets done, I feel overwhelmed. And when I feel overwhelmed, I feel tired. And when I’m tired, I want to curl up under a blanket.

See the problem?

As soon as the sun goes away, as soon as the cold sets in, as soon as the flowers vanish, I don't want to leave that blanket. I don't want to move. I want to sleep until the sun comes back.

But I know I can't do that. I know I need to get up. I know I need to start working on homework. I know I need to get groceries and make food. I know I need to go outside when I can and soak up what little sunlight is available.

I know I’ll feel better once I do. But I have no energy to do any of that.

Which is why November is so hard. Eventually, I get used to winter and the sun’s vacation and I don't feel quite as tired. Just not in November.

I’ll leave you with some advice:

To those of you who also have this problem: Get a vitamin D supplement. It won't solve everything, but it won't hurt. Take the day a task at a time and don’t look at your to do list. Just look at the next item. I promise the sun, and your energy, will come back.

To those of you who don't have this problem: check on your friends who do. Ask what you can do to make them feel better and don't listen when they say nothing (which they will). Help them with the little things, like food and laundry and cleaning their room. Remind them to leave the house. Remind them that you love them. Remind them that the sun will come back.

The sun will come back.

November is hard, but it doesn’t last forever. The feelings it brings won’t last forever either.

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