This time of year is always difficult for me. I don’t think I paid much attention to it before the Great Fall of 2001. I love the holiday season – Thanksgiving and Christmas – because I get to spend time with family and friends. I love the smells. I love the food. I love the meaning of the Christmas season. But I hate the cold. I hate the short days. I hate the dark. I am the person who wishes that we could do Christmas in July every year. So you might say that I have a love/hate relationship with this time of year.
I start noticing my demeanor shifting after Labor Day. When it starts getting cooler, I spend more time deciding what I am going to wear. It takes me longer to get out of bed. I go into work later. I’ve even been known to call in sick just because I can’t stand the thought of leaving my house. I now know that a major part of my depressive reality is Seasonal Affective Disorder.
When I was talking to a friend who is a mental health advocate and all around know-it-all when it comes to these issues, she said that many people use the SAD label who don’t necessarily suffer from the disorder. It has been found that those most prone to SAD are those who already have mental health issues, especially those with depression. I’m realizing that I have to be more vigilant during this time of year. I have to pay attention to the signs and be proactive in caring for myself.
It’s hard though. I feel like sadness lurks just beneath the surface and there really isn’t any rhyme or reason. I want to cry all the time. I am more aware of my emotions and feeling like I’m alone – even though I logically know I have an amazing support network. My tendency is to hibernate and re-emerge when Spring comes. Except, it’s impossible to live one’s life only two seasons of the year and take off the other two. So I am on the journey of figuring out how to live with my reality without feeling ashamed or guilty. My plan for today is to put one foot in front of the other, to focus on the things I have control over and to let go of those things that I cannot control. Just for today…
When I start to feel this way I try and focus on the task directly in front of me. If I look at my day, or especially my week, as a whole, all my extreme emotions flood in and I crumble. But what I can do is focus on getting up and dressed. Once I’ve conquered that, I can move on to breakfast. Then before I know it, I’ve made it through my whole day! It’s a technique I learned in therapy and it really helps.
Thank you for sharing this. It has been a life saver for me to take one thing at a time. I think it’s good to remember to do this all the time. ❤
I was just officially diagnosed with SAD about half a year ago. I live in the Netherlands, they’re not so fond here of directly giving medication, because it can also worsen symptoms. But they have advised a daylightlamp for me. Apparently daylight lamps (not UV) are also being placed in schools and elderly homes in Scandinavia (especially norway). I have been using it for almost a month now, and I must say I actually have the feeling it works. Mostly because when I forget for one or two mornings, I feel like crying without reason.
Important is to not overdo it with this lamp, because it is possible to get in a state of mania for a rather low percentage of the population. I have not yet experienced that, so that’s great. And also don’t use it at nights or late afternoon, because you probably won’t be able to sleep. This I did experience once, so I only use it in the morning since then.
Hope you are doing okay this winter and take it day by day. 🙂
Thank you for sharing! I recently moved to the Midwest in the United States and am nervous about this winter. I’ll definitely be trying a lamp!
[…] because I am in the midst of the hardest season of the year. I have written about my struggles with Seasonal Affective Disorder and am valiantly trying to be positive and proactive during this time of year. It’s hard. I […]