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October 2006: The Meaning of the Season



October is truly the beginning of autumn.  While we know that the autumnal equinox is in September annually, we don’t “feel” the ‘fall’ until the weather truly changes.

This October we may realize that feelings are what bring either sadness or happiness, contentment or misanthropy.  October is National Depression Screening Month.

On 10 October, take time for a key part of our overall health on World Mental Health Day. The week prior, from1-7 October, is National Mental Illness Awareness Week.  How many of us only are aware of such illnesses if they confront us in the form of an unsettled person – a homeless woman; an anorexic child; a depressed widower? 

Often, and even in these AHD WOWs, we only look to physical well-being.

Let’s look at autumn – commonly called “fall” – for an example of missing the hidden activity.

Not many of us realize that leaves don’t just fall from trees in preparation for winter. 

They are PUSHED by trees.  Literally.  This is a scientific discovery that means that trees in order to survive through winter snows and severe cold must push away the very leaves that assisted them in spring and summer to live.

But this action by trees – the pushing off of leaves, the “fall” – is not obvious.  It is subtle.  It is underlying.  It occurs without observation by most.

This is often how mental illness presents at first. 

On October 5th, screen for depression not just in yourself but in your loved ones and coworkers.  We live in such a stressful world that anyone of us could be hurting deeply inside.  On October 24th, “Take Back Your Time”!  Be present for someone else, or yourself; truly pay attention and look for the “push”. 

And, on October 28th, celebrate people helping people ( on Make a Difference Day.

Know that the leaves must be pushed, that they don’t simply fall – but really take time to see and understand them.  We can each of us save those who are falling if we understand.