I’ve hit whatever point it is in the year where my body says, “Autumn. Time to be depressed.”

Fortunately, I’m not eighteen any more, and I’m finally figuring out how to cope with these seasonal downs, although not how to enjoy them. I’m writing down what I know now, in the hopes that I can come back here on bad days and go, “Oh…that’s what I’m supposed to be doing.”

1) Switch to decaf. I swear, lowering my caffeine intake has been one of the best things I’ve done for my health since I got out of college. It’s hard to sort out how you’re actually feeling when you have to battle the ups and downs of your addiction.

That being said…

2) Drink more coffee. Eat more chocolate. It seems to be more than just the caffeine (tea doesn’t seem to work, except the kind with goji berry in it, but that was both a different kind of feeling and too much so), but I have no idea what. Take your birth control on time. Take sinus medicine if you even suspect that might be part of the problem.

3) Turn the lights on as soon as it’s not blindingly bright. Don’t wait for dusk. If a room isn’t bathed in bright sunlight, turn the lights on. You’re not saving energy by turning off the lights if you’re going to make yourself depressed.

4) Eat. Even if you don’t want to eat. You don’t have to eat things that are good for you. Eat a piece of candy if that’s what you can put up with. You won’t be hungry. Just eat. And drink some water, after all that coffee. Tuna fish is good for you, it has seratonin. Make sure you have something you can fix quickly, like tomato soup, that you can feed yourself and the kid at the bare minimum.

5) Do something. Cleaning house is good. Put everything away. Throw away garbage. Mail bills. File loose pieces of paper, even if it is just stuffing them in the closet of doom. Finish things that need to be finished. Do the laundry. Just keep moving.

6) If you have the day off, perform basic hygiene. It does matter if you brushed your teeth, even if everyone else is out of the house. Put on clean clothes, even if the ones you wore yesterday aren’t dirty. Bathe. Shave your legs. Put on lotion. Wear a bra. (It’s okay not to wear a bra if you’re feeling mischievious. But not if you’re depressed.)

7) Always tell your spouse and your kids. Do not be ashamed. If you do not tell them, you will probably give them the impression they’re the ones who are hurting you. The first step to not being depressed is to admit you’re depressed; doing this under your breath doesn’t count, because within a few moments, you will try to convince yourself you’re just being paranoid, and you’re not really depressed. So which is worse? Paranoia or depression? (I know this should be step #1, but it’s hard to start at the beginning sometimes.)

8) If you are depressed, you do not have to be the mom or the hero or the wonderwife. Ask for help. The people you love will cope.

9) Spend some time on yourself. Find a book that you love and that you’ve read a bajillion times, and reread it. Listen to music that you can wear like a second skin. Then…dare yourself to do something more challenging. A project that you want to get done. Writing. (Blogging.) Achieve something. Once you’ve achieved something, you can bugger off; this is usually the point at which I’m fine.

10) If that doesn’t work, though: yoga, meditation, backrubs, taking a walk…do something physical. (You should be doing physical exercise on a regular basis anyway, but do extra or at least some, if you’re not.)

11) If that doesn’t work, cry. Don’t work yourself up to be crying about something, just cry.

Let’s see how this works…ask me in, um, March.