All the leaves are brown

October is a big deal at our house. My family loves it. A leaf has not fallen in our yard yet, but my wife already has mums for the front steps and a new scarecrow to go with all the old scarecrows. 

D loves Halloween. He wants to watch a hundred scary movies and carve a hundred pumpkins. He has been working on his costume since early August. 

Together they will watch “Hocus Pocus” a ridiculous number of times between now and the big day.

I wish I could join in their excitement, but for me fall has traditionally meant time to come down. 

The technical term is Seasonal Affective Disorder. My friend says it’s the time of year when God makes people like me rest so we don’t burn out. 

I can’t argue with that. I usually run wide open. I work a lot of hours. I go to a lot of shows. I write a lot of songs. But like clockwork, the last weekend of September, I crash and become someone who doesn’t like music and wants to stay home.

The first few years of our marriage, my wife would point out I always felt this way at the same time. I would argue it wasn’t true and insist there was something at work causing it, or something she did, or something I had done to cause God to forsake me; it was a very dramatic process. 

But without fail I would end up at an urgent care clinic asking for an antidepressant. I would take it for three or four weeks before swearing medication didn’t work on me. 

At the end of December, I would feel things begin to lighten up, and I would swear nothing was ever wrong with me. It was “all in my head.”

It was in my head, and last fall I decided to do something about it. I found a doctor specializing in mental health and agreed to do whatever he said. 

I didn’t quit the medication after three weeks. I kept taking it and seeing the doctor so he could adjust as needed. 

Seven months later, I felt a miraculous change in my thoughts and perspective. Since then my son has said, “Dad, you are so much more polite, and when I talk, I can tell you’re really listening.” 

I’ve overheard my wife telling friends how much better I am. Turns out it’s not just true for Mommas. If Daddy ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy either.

I’m writing this a week past the time when “all the leaves are brown,” and I think this year is going to be different. I’ve slowed down, but I haven’t crashed. I still feel like myself. 

I wrote what people have said is my best song yet last week. I’ve got my costume ready, and I’ve agreed to watch “Hocus Pocus” at least once. 

For the first time in my life, I’m welcoming fall and thanking God for a time to rest.

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