Farewell, Halloween. I'll always love you.

Yes, it's true. I am breaking up with Halloween. Those of you who know me well realize the depth of this statement. We've been together since I was a child and we've had a good run. Parties, costumes, decorations, haunted houses, scary movies--we've done it all. It is time to face up to the truth, though. Halloween just doesn't light me up anymore. It's no one's fault. It's a change of seasons.

I was a child of the '70s and early '80s. We knew how to celebrate Halloween. We made our own costumes (with help from parents), started trick or treating by 5 p.m., stayed out late and had school Halloween parties.

I loved Halloween so much that I would start planning my costume in August and counted down the days to the big day. I used to have dreams (nightmares, really) that I slept through trick or treating.

Somewhere around college, I realized that Halloween was my true love. My favorite holiday. I loved everything about it. Fall. Leaves changing. Bonfires. Chilly nights. Sweaters. Scary movies. Costume parties. All things macabre. In my '20s and '30s, I acquired quite a collection of Halloween decorations and hosted multiple parties. Even into my '40s I loved everything about Halloween. I'd get excited when stores set up their Halloween displays, long before October 31.

Then, in May of 2013, something happened.

I dealt with my lifelong struggle with depression. Not just any old depression. Major depression coupled with disthymia, a chronic, low-grade depression. It's called double depression. I was suicidal. Every day I wished I was dead, but lacked the gumption to go through with it. I was miserable. I cried all the time and my emotions were all over the place. I left my job and went into a stress center. I spent three days in the in-patient ward and the remainder of the summer in out-patient therapy. Those three days in the hospital were my lowest point, but also my turning point. I'd never come so close to death. I felt as though I'd stared it down and come out the other side. I wasn't scared of anything after that.

That fall, I felt compelled to decorate for Halloween, but something was different. Something had changed. I felt as though I was going through the motions. It was odd. I felt very disconnected from my favorite holiday.

When Spring 2014 arrived, I was filled with joy. I watched buds turn to blossoms and brown turn to green. Everything came to life from its dormant winter state. My whole disposition was lighter. I delighted in the fresh air, beautiful flowers and the vibrancy of the season. It was as though I noticed spring for the first time. Fall of 2014 brought the same disconnection to Halloween and Spring 2015 brought the same inspiration and happiness.

Finally, it occurred to me. Halloween no longer held the same appeal it once had. Because I'd gone through hell with depression and come back to life myself, the dark of Halloween did nothing for me. I'd stared down death and felt that darkness, but I'd made my way back. Halloween now represented fear and death to me, while spring meant rebirth and life. I wanted to keep feeling renewal. Spring represented the capacity to return to life.

As we enter late March now, my heart turns toward the sun and all the colors of spring. It feels good to finally be in the light. I will always love Halloween and it will always be part of my life story, but I must let it go. It served me well and now I'm ready to move on...with a spring in

my step.

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