Seasonal Affective Disorder

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“All the leaves are brown, and the sky is grey. I’ve been on a walk on a winter’s day, I’d be safe and warm. California dreaming on such a winter’s day.” (Sung by Mamas and the Papas)

Just when you think that I have lived so much depression, it gets even better when seasons change every year! Don’t get me wrong, I love watching seasons change. I love watching the leaves change colors, watching the trees and flowers bloom in the spring time and watching the snow fall down to the ground (not so much in Texas, but we still get a little! Not like in the photo above, but it’s possible!); but my depression HATES it when seasons change. Not to mention, my year round seasonal allergies will kick in the hardest every March/April and around August/September. Allergy sufferers know how it feels. It’s not fun at all.

When the vernal equinox aka the arrival of spring comes, my depression is very low for me. I love spring and summertime especially when the time changes. I don’t really mind losing an hour of sleep because it stays lighter outside for a little bit longer. When the winter solstice aka the arrival of winter (NO!) comes, then my depression is at an all time high. I utilize that extra hour of sleep, but absolutely hate it when it starts getting dark around 5-6pm. I hate that. For me, the winter time change takes quite a while for me to get adjusted to versus in spring time where it doesn’t get dark until around 8-9pm.

I would always become like a bear and tend to “hibernate” in the winter. When I used to live in Wisconsin for 25 years, you have no idea how much I loathed the winter time during my high school and college years. As a child, the winters were fun because there was a lot of snow to play with and NO SCHOOL! As an adult, it’s harder. I hate having to shovel the driveway, put down salt on the driveway when there’s ice and hate driving in snow, period. One time in college, I was coming home from work and got hit by a semi-truck in a blizzard on the freeway and landed in a ditch. No injuries, but the semi-truck didn’t seem to care about me and kept driving onward.

My anxiety and depression were rough and almost unrelenting from November through March. I would jump for joy when spring came. However, in the Midwest, Mother Nature can still be unpredictable and can decide to dump a boatload of snow in the springtime. Yes! She can be a little on the cruel side; she did that last April when she dumped over 36 inches in Wisconsin. NO JOKE. But since I’ve lived in Texas, my depression and anxiety are still the same everyday, but I still get very depressed when the time changes. But living in Texas is like living in the summertime all year round. The winters down here aren’t that bad. I’m used to frigid temps so when it hits 30’s down here, it’s not that bad. The Midwest gets temps in the below zero range and so does the wind chill, too.

Aside from the time change, the weather plays a huge factor in depression for me. Also holidays, in general, make me depressed, too. It’s very depressing when snow is falling and sometimes you can’t even leave the house because the roads are horrendous to drive. I can’t tell you how many winters as an adult, I’ve endured bad depression because of this. My mother and I would sleep for a majority of the day because there was nothing to do. For my mother, it was the time change as well. When 5pm came and it was dark outside, here came her depression and mood swings. Most professionals will tell you to look into “light therapy”. Look on the “bright side” if you will. With light therapy, you can sit or do something with lights on that helps keep your mood intact and less depressed. For my mother, it works but it takes a little getting used to.

Holidays are what gets me down. It seems like after we hit July 4th, it’s like a quick descent to Christmas. Labor Day, Halloween, and Thanksgiving all pass by so fast and boom, it’s Christmas morning. I hate that! I don’t like it when days and months go by too quickly. When I used to work for a different retail company at mall, I would always dread the month of November. For one, my birthday is always around Thanksgiving and will land on Black Friday (the worst possible day EVER!) and I hate Black Friday shopping. If you work at a mall or another retail company, this is probably your worst nightmare! I didn’t look forward to spending so little time with family eating turkey and watching football and then have to spend the entire weekend watching people kill each other over stuff that isn’t worth it at all.

Thanksgiving is a holiday that is all about giving “thanks” for what we have. It is about spending time with family and friends. It is not about slugging the person next to you over the last item in stock for whatever cheap price it’s going for. It is not about punching out or arguing with another person over the last parking spot. It is not even worth it to take out a weapon and injuring someone over who’s turn it is in line at the checkout. I told you that retail sucks! This time of year set my anxiety and depression way up. I’m not a happy manager with a happy smiling face during this weekend. Because it’s hell. Pure hell! You have no idea how happy I was when that weekend was over.

The key to dealing with seasonal depression is to be supportive of people who suffer from this. It’s hard for everyone. I hate when the time changes just like everyone else does, but always think positive. Winter doesn’t last very long (even though it feel like years sometimes!) and spring makes its debut. If you find that your depression gets worse during these times, don’t hesitate to seek help. Always have a doctor or someone you can trust and talk to you when you need it. I do!

 

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