The sticky summer of 2016 melted away for me during labor day weekend, a series of days I’d spend creeping down the stairs after my parents’ room’s light went out, out the back door and down the street into my friend’s jeep

The fall hit me like a brick.

The first boy I’d ever loved had broken up with me just as our summer ended. I spent the last summer evenings staring at the street rolling out in front of the car from the middle of the back seat, not bothering to even buckle the seatbelt. If I was going through the windshield, I was going.

Yet, that moment never came.

For as long as I could remember, with the cold, came the sadness. I remember being 12 and letting the cold winter air chill me through my open bedroom window, staring blankly at the flurrying street.

Every year it came without fail, no matter how excited I was for the holidays, no matter how good my life was at that very point, the lack of sunlight and the overcast days never ceased to depress me.

This year was no exception.

It wasn’t long before I’d landed a spot in the mental hospital shortly after Labor Day for an attempted suicide. By the time I’d gotten out, the air had already cooled down. The trees were changing. The cold began to settle in.

I felt the same hopeless feeling that I never knew had a name…the one that came with the cold and the early sunsets: seasonal depression. The day before Thanksgiving I’d tried pulling my short hair up, but the back wouldn’t stay. It kept falling down onto my neck.

I took the kitchen scissors and cut and cut until it was gone.

I had gone to Thanksgiving Dinner with half of my hair, occasionally slipping my hand up and feeling the place I’d cut, thinking over and over again about how much of a mistake I’d made.

I’d wake up most days in the night, unable to find my footing in a normal sleeping pattern. Day after day I’d spend awake while the rest of the world was asleep, alone, perpetually in the darkness and coldness of my room. It felt like it’d never end.

What’s the point if every year it’d come back to this?

It was the first warm weekend that came in February without warning. The birds were singing, and the bugs came alive to stretch their wings. The sun peaked out for once.

My friends and I drove out to a state park, and for the first time, we could shed our winter jackets. We watched out at the sun melting the frozen lake. We ran up and down the beach.

For a moment, it felt like I could finally breathe again.

I suddenly remembered how good it felt to have the sun beat on your skin. I suddenly remembered how nice the spring breeze could feel. I suddenly remembered what it felt like to feel alive.