Shannon Cuthrell on Seasonal Depression

When the winter months toss and turn in the intricate quilt that is the year, a profound and often haunting sense of melancholy crashes into us. It is when our guard is down and our eyes are shut that it pounces, relentlessly. It is when we are infinitely vulnerable and infinitely unsuspecting.

Not everyone experiences the drenched-in-sorrow nature of seasonal depression. And if you don’t, count your lucky stars. Because when you’re in it, you’re really in it. And struggling to get out of the murky sinkhole is often what kills in a long, painful way. Running away can only make the problem bigger and more difficult to solve.

My favorite poet, Megan Falley, once wrote a piece about what it’s like to be prescribed to Seroquel XR, which is an antipsychotic to dull the mania and combat the depression of Bipolar Disorder. I had the displeasure of taking this medication for a month and its effects can only be likened to a harsh and unforgiving sedative. It stole my energy and ran with it to another land, where all the energy of the hopeless is stored.

In her poem, Falley connects depression to a rain cloud. She concludes the poem with poignant resonance:

“Give me that stupid, reliable cloud,

because it might be the only thing

that never leaves.

Give me that cloud,

give me this ache that lets me know

I’m alive.”

Sunless days, fog and thunder give us a powerful reason to appreciate the brightness of the sun. Like the townspeople of the darkest Oregon town, we march to a dulled tune – too overcome by our own fear to even be afraid. We continue our way through the long, tumultuous months of winter to watch life bounce back and blossom each Spring like the most magnificent masterpiece you’ve ever laid eyes on. That is why we endure. That is why we press on. Because on the other side of a blood-dripped, abysmal wall is a green, sun-kissed pasture that makes every downfall worth it.


Shannon Cuthrell is the author of The Great Repression, a book of poetry about life with bipolar disorder.

Shannon Cuthrell

Shannon Cuthrell is an English and Journalism major from Appalachian State University in Boone, NC. In addition to being a dedicated student, she also devotes a significant amount of time to writing poetry, observing the great Appalachian mountains and consuming copious amounts of coffee.