Every year I struggle with seasonal depression. Not enough sun, plus too much time indoors, and I just spiral. I know it’s coming, I know it’s gonna happen, and yet I don’t do anything about it until it’s too late and I’m deep in “everything sucks” hole.
My depression comes in waves. First I get really tired and take lots of naps. Then I lose interest in going out. Then I get sick (stupid winter cold). Then things get bad. “Why aren’t my friends talking to me as much?” “Why are they doing things without me?” “Why didn’t I get an invite?” “They’d rather hang out without me” “why did *blank* say that? She said she was joking, but I know she wasn’t” ” “why is everyone acting so weird” “why did my dad say he was working and couldn’t talk? He must not want to talk to me” “why hasn’t my mom called me, she much be busy with everyone else in her life and forgot about me”. I hate these thoughts. They suck. And on some level I know they're not real, but they feel real in the moment. And with Covid starting its third year and another big wave hitting us (I wish Omicron was a Decepticon and not another damn variant), it's easier than ever to feel alone and isolated.
I know they're other people out there who feel like this, so I decided to make a list of things that have helped me and might help someone else. Because as much as we think we're alone, we're not.
-See a doctor. There’s no shame in taking medicine if you need it. I take Prozac and during the winter I need to up my dose by 10mg.
-Spend some time in the sun or sit by a light box for 30 minutes each morning. A light box is a portable, visible light source that provides up to 10,000 lux (a measure of light’s intensity) and is up to 10 to 25 times as bright as ordinary lighting. A light box is equivalent to outdoor light about 40 minutes after sunrise and is beneficial in providing the body with enough visible light to decrease feelings of lethargy and fatigue by lowering the level of melatonin in the body.
-Write it down. In a journal, on Facebook, on a blog, in your planner, it doesn’t matter where. Write down how you’re feeling. Most of the time when you see it you can look at it from a different perspective. If a friend were saying those things to you, what would you tell them?
-Talk to your friends and family. Tell them what’s going on. Explain how you feel and let them know you might need a little more attention, a little less playful hazing, or a few more text messages.
-Talk to a professional. Talking to an impartial person about how you feel is sometimes the absolute best thing you can do. Just getting the thoughts out and having someone listen who doesn’t judge is a huge help. Sometimes, all it takes is just someone to listen.
I know a lot of people say “go outside and do something fun” or “work out to release some serotonin” and if that works for you, awesome! But personally, when I'm in the pit of it, I don’t wanna do those things, I can’t bring myself to do those things, so I work on climbing out, one tiny step at a time until I'm ready to do those things.
My tiny steps include:
Take one less nap.
Spending 5 mins in the sun.
Making sure my meds are right.
Write down my thoughts (that's how this post started).
Reach out to people you trust.
Every little action brings you one inch closer to the top of that pit, and that’s what's important.
Post Script: This morning I made my coffee, looked outside, and thought "I'm gonna go sit by the pool" so I did. I didn't shower, get dressed, or even brush my teeth. I just grabbed my coffee and my phone and went down to the pool and sat in the sun. That's where I wrote this post. It didn't start out as a blog post, just a "get the thoughts out" thing, but then I kept writing, and while I was writing I realized there are other people out there who suffer from this, so maybe I would write to them. When I was done, I wasn't sure if I would post it, I'm still not sure. But if you're reading this it means I did, and I hope that maybe by opening up and showing a little bit of vulnerability, it might have helped someone.
Also, if you're not sure about SAD, or if you have it, or if you just want to learn more about it, check out THIS article.