It’s been happening every year. So regular that I wait expectantly, like an unwanted guest coming for a visit. A long visit. I don’t typically have to accept her presence until January; but this year she is early – without invitation or welcoming arms.
What set her off? Who welcomed this angry, sad, relationship marring person into my home? And why is she intent on staying longer with each visit? This year creeping in as the clocks went back an hour, as the sunlight was slowly stolen from the evening sky. I can hide her in public, in professional and friendly encounters. But, when she’s comfortable, mostly in the comfort of home where she’s safe, she comes out. Taking away motivation, lashing out on my children, doubting, in constant arguments with my spouse.
I know I need to be aware when she’s coming to visit and I need to be prepared to handle her. Because as much as I wish she wasn’t there – it only worsens when I try to cover her up or try to ignore her altogether.
Without being professionally diagnosed, I am most certain that I, with several others, suffer from winter depression. As defined by the Mayo Clinic, Seasonal Affective Disorder is a subtype of major depression that comes and goes based on seasons – featuring symptoms such as: Irritability, tired or low energy, problems getting along with people, hypersensitivity to rejection, oversleeping, increased carbohydrate cravings *eats tortilla chip*. Often related to geographical location (more prevalent in northern regions), up to 26% of Americans have a wide range of severity of these symptoms.
Up to 26% of Americans have a wide range of severity of these symptoms.
I happen to think that I am on the milder end of the spectrum, and this is not mean to be a prescription for healing the very serious and real disease of depression; If you are experiencing these effects forcefully, and you are not able to control them with natural remedies and especially, if you are feeling hopeless for stretches of time, I would encourage you to visit a health care professional. Either starting with a family doctor or a mental health provider.
For me, right now, I am doing my own, “light therapy”, walking in order to reap the benefits of outdoor light, and in turn Vitamin D. Walking has always been therapeutic to me. The fresh air, the quiet. The slow pace and sensitivity to the natural beauty all around. Feeling the sensations of the seasons as I breathe deeply with eyes closed. The space to think without interruptions, and the natural movement and mobility of the body. But as much as I love the space of a walk – I don’t often take advantage of them – too rushed, too comfy, too late in the day, too many reasons and it doesn’t become a priority.
But it has to right now.
I need to walk right out of this mindset. If taking a short walk means I can skip an argument, have the patience to gently ask my kids to put their shoes on one more time, if I can find the energy to create and meditate during my early morning hours, and if I can keep seeing hope and love for myself and others; it’s well worth my time.
if I can keep seeing hope and love for myself and others; it’s well worth my time.
My husband has agreed to keep me accountable. Not only for the walk, but my daily vitamin – I’m terrible at remembering that little guy. It’s also said foods high in Omega-3’s are being considered as aids in relieving depression… why not… I’m adding walnuts and / or flax as a health fat into my daily. Last, but most definitely not least, starting the day with meditation, listening, and reading a resource of hope. For me, that’s the Bible.
In fact: Look here. On the morning I fully recognized my seasonal slump had arrived. I looked her straight in the face, acknowledged her presence and asked a higher power for help. Here’s what I read:
Seize life! Eat bread with gusto. Drink wine with a robust heart.
Yes, God takes pleasure in your pleasure.
Dress festively every morning. Don’t skimp on colors and scarves.
Relish life with the spouse you love – Each and every day of your precarious life.
Each day is God’s gift. It’s all you get in exchange – For the hard work of staying alive.
Make the most of each one!
Whatever you do, do well.
This is your last and only chance at it.
Yep. That’ll be a good start – enjoy the time around the table with my friends and family – get fancy – love on my spouse – I’m adding a walk and some other healthy aides – I’m feeling good.
This is newish territory to me and honestly, I am only speaking from my own experience and the minimal online research I’ve done on the topic of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). I would love to hear your story and the remedies you’ve found helpful.
Here’s to a Worthy Journey,