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.