There’s no escaping the inevitable downturn of my mental health when the days start to cool and the sun sets early. It’s as if a switch is flipped and I go from being a genuinely happy person to being a husk of the person I was just a month before.
It’s not like I spend my days crying instead of frolicking in fields of flowers. Instead, it feels like I go numb, where emotions are like water slipping through my fingers. I spend my days going through the motions. It’s something I have no control over, and it’s something I’ve begun to expect as the summer comes to a close.
I suffer from something called seasonal affective disorder (SAD).
I Have Seasonal Affective Disorder
More commonly referred to as seasonal depression, seasonal affective disorder is a mood disorder characterized by the feelings of fatigue, depression, and hopelessness following a change of climate. It usually happens at the same time every year, when there is less sunlight and cooler temperatures.
The chemical imbalance that this disorder causes can seriously harm people who already have existing mood disorders such as anxiety, bipolar disorder, or depression. It can hurt people who have no past mental disorders, too.
To combat seasonal affective disorder, people are treated with medication, phototherapy, and talk therapy. As well as these methods of treatment, those with SAD are told to spend more time outside during the day.
People who suffer from SAD may notice major changes in their eating habits—they may crave foods with high carbohydrates and sugar. To avoid SAD, doctors recommend eating a well balanced diet, including veggies and fruits.
I’ve suffered with anxiety for years, and the seasonal flow of my mental state has been rather present. I haven’t found a way to stop it altogether, but I find that there are ways to still feel fulfilled when struggling.
I find myself working longer hours, eating only when hungry, and staying active in my social circle. These three things have helped me maintain some control when it comes to battling a never ending battle.
I can’t help but be discouraged when I start to feel the familiar pull of seasonal sadness. It happens as soon as the sun sets before six in the evening, and it doesn’t leave until the days are hot with mid-spring.
Part of the fight is trying to avoid the hole that seasonal affective disorder digs into your brain. If I allow myself to wallow in sadness, I won’t be able to pull myself out of it. I get stuck in the feeling of inadequacy, then fall victim to my brain.
This isn’t a list of tips and tricks to defeat your seasonal affective disorder. To be honest, I don’t really know if I’ll ever be able to pull myself out of it. I just think I would feel less alone if I knew someone else was going through the same thing.
So, if you’re suffering and you feel like you’re doing this all alone, just know that there is someone else out there going through something similar. I am not going to beat this thing by spending more time outside, and I’m not going to beat it by eating more vegetables. The one thing I can do to maintain some sense of normalcy is remember that it isn’t forever, and one day the sun will come back out and I’ll be happy again.
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