Cathy Terranova blog

Most people find it hard to maintain a chipper disposition through the winter months. Things get colder and darker, pressures from the holidays mount, and the short burst of cheer from this or that function never seems to last long. Certainly none of it lasts long enough to get all the way through the new year to the first day of Spring.

For me, the autumn isn’t a crisp middle point between summer and winter. It’s a bitter reminder that my already hard days are about to get harder and that there is nothing I can do about it. It’s only October and I’m already fumbling on days when it isn’t especially sunny. I have to make sure to take vitamin D to supplement less sunshine. I have to find different, indoor, ways to be active because without exercise winter is even more difficult. I am not excited about the seasons changing.

Don’t get me wrong, I like the holidays. I like Halloween, I like pumpkin flavored things, I like cozy fires, and I like sweaters. I love the colors on the trees. I love Charlie Brown specials. I love how excited my husband gets about Christmas and spoiling me.

I really do love pumpkins. They’re so orange. They make great pies and other baked goods. Jack-o-lanterns are super fun and people get so creative. Pumpkin seeds are delicious when you bake them with salt and cinnamon and brown sugar. Pumpkin ale is amazing. Pumpkin is fantastic in coffee and espresso. Even my tortoise loves eating pumpkin. Watching that is super cute. Have you ever hugged a particularly large pumpkin? I have. It’s very satisfying.

But when you’re chemically struggling, being reminded of all the happy things around you can feel like a slap in the face.

A friend shared with me that someone actually told her to just be happy. This person thought that if she really looked around at her life, her spirits would be lifted. And, I don’t know, maybe she would “snap out” of her very real depression? The person who told her that was wrong.

That’s the point.

You don’t snap out of depression. 

I take anti-depressants every day and sometimes that isn’t enough. There is not magic pill. There is no cure for depression. The chemicals in my brain are unbalanced. I can’t fix it. There are things I can do to help manage my depression but it will never just up and go away. I may even have years without a depressive episode. That would be amazing, but it would be a result of hard work and maintenance and not that I was cured.

It is difficult to participate in life when you are depressed. One of the symptoms is actually that you don’t get enjoyment out of things you used to. When I’m depressed, I rarely sing. I hardly dance. I hate the way that I look. I’m even that TV commercial stereotype of the lady who doesn’t play with her dog. Sticking presents or parties in front of me doesn’t help. It just makes me feel guilty and anxious that I can’t do “normal” things.

Be gentle with each other. If someone seems glum this autumn or winter, it may not be something that you can help them with. Just be encouraging. Be supportive. There are ways to help.

Stay tuned for my post: “How to Help When Depression Steals Your Friend”.




photo credit: <a href=”″>Lots of pumpkins II</a> via <a href=””>photopin</a> <a href=””>(license)</a>

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