Here in the Berwicks of Maine (which consist of North, South and Central Berwick), spring is finally here. People come out of their homes to feel the sun on their skin and clean up their overgrown yards. There are people running on the sidewalks and kids playing in the neighborhood’s parks again. It’s peaceful and a true breath of fresh air after the long winter and continuous storms of not too long ago.
“I really feel at peace here,” Margret Wakefield of South Berwick said as she sat on the patio of her home in the sun. “At the beginning of spring, I always come out here and when I don’t feel like it my husband will even push me out into the sun. He knows how I need it.” Margret Wakefield has experienced seasonal depression her whole life. At nearly 80 years old now, she still finds her happiness in the sun and good weather.
“We’ve been together… oh I don’t know, forever, and in the sun is where she shines most. Even our kids and grandbabies–the girls mostly–have it, too.” John Wakefield talked about seasonal depression and the impact it has on his family even now. “People think you get old and all your problems go away. But no, you just know how to live with them peacefully. She’s so good about that and teaches the kids, too. I’m so proud of her for it.”
Seasonal depression is a common problem in Maine as it is one of those states that lacks sunlight during the winter season. This affects young and old and everyone in between. “The second the sun is out, she’s up and by the window or calling to get the kiddos to go outside, you know. It’s her way of caring.” John Wakefield explained his wife’s way of dealing with it.
“People think, ‘Oh, just go outside. You’ll be fine.’ But it’s not that simple, is it, in the winter? People don’t understand the toll it can take. My Mumma ended her life in 1980 because of it. It weighs heavy on this family, but we’re fighters now,” Margret Wakefield said with a determined expression and a grandchild on her lap as they soaked in the sunshine.
Spring is a time of happiness and relief for many who struggled in the winter. To see people on the streets again and in the parks brings her joy now. “My oldest, Teresa, is on medication for it now in the wintertime. If I could, I would be, too. But my heart can’t take it they say. She says it makes all the difference. She doesn’t find herself in that low state that she can’t take care of her kids anymore. That’s what it used to do to me. I felt terrible I couldn’t be there for my own kids. But there wasn’t a way out of it then. I’m so happy she has help now.”
With the advancements in medicine, Teresa is no longer trapped because of this disorder. While it’s something that affects 9 percent of the population in Maine, many people aren’t being helped with it. “I want nothing more than for everyone to be the best they can be. Thankfully, with some help, that can be true if people knew it was available. I only wish I had had that help when I was young, too. I might’ve done more right,” Margret Wakefield said.