There is no denial, autumn has finally arrived. After a few qualms with the fact that shorter days are on the horizon as the new season starts, I finally succumbed to mother nature and let my woollies free out of the plastic tub under the bed. In the past, I have never seen myself as a ‘summer’ person and truth be told, I dreaded hot days until I moved to England seven years ago.
Please allow me to expand on this thought; growing up in a reasonably warm country, foggy, wintery and cool days were rare and considerably below average when comparing to what occurs on the northern hemisphere. I love A/W fashion – thick fabrics, structured cuts, trousers, boots – you name it, I’m into it. I do realise that the main corporate to my taste for winter clothes come from my style inspiration, which is very reminiscent of the 1960s and 1970s British and European fashion. When I still lived in my hometown, the look I desired was very hard to obtain as we were lucky to get a 10ºC weather on a winter day.
Funnily enough, things completely changed once I moved to London, experienced a couple of cold winters and fully integrated myself into the culture and British habits. The first year living in the UK, I was hit with a feeling that I have never sensed before. At the time I thought it could be that I just felt a little lost, still adapting into living alone in a foreign country. Later on, I’ve learned of ‘SAD’ (Seasonal Affected Disorder) and I am pretty sure that was what had swayed me.
Coming from a place where the days are pretty much the same length, no matter the season, it was a shock to my system to see how short they were here in the UK. Granted, I wasn’t neither working or studying on the first winter I spent in London and that meant I was sleeping late and waking up late. I had 4-ish hours of daylight and it would be dark again. Not having time to enjoy the sun made me depressed, which meant I didn’t leave my bed, leading to sleeping until late and therefore, not seeing the sun yet again. It was a horrible vicious cycle, to say the least.
Forwarding years, I can happily report that my life is so far from that reality that I can’t even believe that we were the same person. I managed to get to university, have a weekend job, graduate, have placements, have a full-time job, travel, see family, go through hardships, build amazing memories and so on. My life got busy and although I was overwhelmed at times, it didn’t give me the opportunity to really sink in with the weather and the deemed sunlight from the winter.
Last year things were slightly different. We suffered a big loss in our family and our spirits were shaken, my heart still fragile. As winter approached, I could see a glimpse of desperation in my eye, my actions were flustered and my irritability was up to the roof. The turning point of events was in November when my husband and I went for a day trip to Brighton.
It was so stupid, looking back to that day, but my shoes were hurting me, I didn’t find anything I liked at the shops and all the cafes were too busy to sit on. We had barely made a dent to our itinerary and it already started to get dark – boom, I broke down. I cried, I felt horrible and worthless, I cursed the weather, my shoes, and my poor husband. As we sat down for tea in one of our favourite restaurants in Brighton, I apologised to him, I didn’t know what was going on with me at that moment. We talked over our tofu and lo and behold, I came to recognise that I wasn’t ok, but that was actually, ok.
SAD can really eat you up, but only if you let it do it. Once I identified the cause of my distress, I soon changed the outlook I was giving my life. Words are easier said than done, obviously, and I didn’t magically felt better or started to sing jolly Christmas songs like Elf. I did though, understood that small things shouldn’t be leading me to feel so bad, so defeated. We can’t change the way the world is, days will be shorter and the wind will bite your cheeks, that is inexorable.
What we can change is the way it affects us. People don’t suddenly feel depressed just because the weather is gloomy, there are underlying factors that make them exteriorise their emotions through SAD. Having the strength to reflect that in myself is something I am still learning, but I know that every year I am getting better at it.
Therefore, I am welcoming autumn in my life this year. I am embracing the shorter days, the freezing cold mornings and grey skies. I will make the most of it and I will look forward to dressing up with my favourite pieces. Let me shed my worries the same way the trees will shed their leaves, one by one, slowly, but surely.