Usually in September

September is the month where I hit rock bottom, or it has been for the past few years at least.

Last year, around the middle of the month, I woke up one morning and felt like absolute shit, like a deep black cloak of sorrow had been draped over me during the night.

A few nights before, walking down my street towards my house, I’d had a similar feeling. The first time I shook it off. I did that thing where you distance yourself from an emotion by calling it something you’re feeling rather than something you are, e.g. “I’m feeling angry” rather than “I’m angry.”

That September I wasn’t feeling angry, but I was definitely feeling something, and so when it happened again so soon, I did what I’ve taught myself to do in these situations: reach out to a few people that I know will help get me back on track.

I’ve struggled on and off with my mental health for over twenty-five years. For the last ten I’ve been getting better at dealing with it constructively.

When I got that feeling last year, and it persisted, one of the people I reached out to was a psychologist, Clara. I’d worked with her on and off, usually for a 2-3 month stretch every couple of years when I had something I was interested in working through: family, relationships, anger – we’d built up a pretty good process.

I trusted Clara. I felt comfortable talking to her about anything. So that morning, lying in bed, I grabbed my phone off the bedside table and searched through my phone for her number. I fired off a quick message, basically: Hi Clara, feeling like shit at the moment, can I make an appointment to come and talk?

After sending it off I looked at the last message I had sent her. It said pretty much the same thing. And it was sent almost exactly one year before. There’s something going on with me and September, I thought.

Eventually I got through that period – I hung out with some good friends and saw a new psychologist for a couple of months. Clara had moved her practice far out into north-west Sydney.

September this year wasn’t all that great. I wound up an ongoing work contract that puts a dent in my budget, plus in the final week I injured myself quite badly which, two weeks later, I’m still not fully recovered from.

I definitely didn’t bottom out though, perhaps because I’d named it the year before.

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5 thoughts on “Usually in September”

  1. Maybe because your birthday is in September you feel like its a line drawn over another year? The wish to have made achievements, at our age, and have something to show for ourselves is strong. Hope you’re feeling better soon.

    1. Thanks Francie! I think you’re probably right. There’s also Fathers’ Day at the beginning of the month – and Dad and I have long had an awkward relationship. This year, because I knew it was (or might be) coming, I approached the month quite consciously 🙂 xo

  2. I very much admire people who can speak out about their problems – we’re still not very good as a community in accepting mental health issues or knowing what to do. That birthday thing sounds pretty true, plus, if you haven’t got your goal for the year sorted by September, it’s going to be pretty hard to get it done before December 31, which I know for myself puts me in a grumpy mood. So double triggers right there. Identifying the issue seems to be working for you though, so hopefully, you’re on the up! You also have the gift of using these darker times to help us all understand life, so if you can’t completely avoid it, maybe you can mine it.

    1. Thanks Kate – definitely on the up 🙂 One thing I think we need to learn to do better as a society, which may help, is to listen without judgement. One thing I learned from working in politics and taking LOTS of calls from people who had various issues, worries and complaints – the majority of which we couldn’t do anything about – was that the simple act of listening to someone, and being able to empathise with what they are going through, is often all we can do. And it’s usually enough.

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