my tulips have grown, (I counted 156 at their peak!), and already withered. It's stormy today after a week of scorching sun (and a sunburn to prove it). I'm getting up early in the mornings without an alarm. I'm breathing easier now.
*I'm writing this for future Claire. Scheduling this to post sometime next year when I think I'll need it most.
the easiest time to talk about dark days is when you aren't having them. Which is why I'm talking about this now.
I have seasonal affective disorder. S.A.D. I've maybe had it always just a little bit but only in the last 3 years has it been obviously so. You can google it. or maybe you've heard of it. But basically my body/mind have a direct and negative response to the colder/darker winter months. Depressed is a strong word. Sad is a trite one. The best way to describe my experience with it would be total unabashed bummed-out-ness. At least that's what I liked to call it when it was happening. But then a few weeks ago I woke up so happy and it was such a true contrast to the feelings I'd had for months that it scared me. There were some really dark days there. Those first two words might be more fitting.
It's hard to be on the inside of SAD. It's also hard to be on the outside, watching people you love and not knowing how to help them. So I write this for me, for anyone going through seasonal affective disorder, or for anyone witnessing this in someone's life. Here's some things that I've found to help and hope to remember when next November rolls around:
1. THIS TO SHALL PASS. You hate hearing it in the moment because what you are feeling is soooo real and so heavy it feels like it's a constant. It is real. It is heavy. But it's likely not forever. The sun and warmth will return. Maybe someday they'll get rid of stupid daylight savings. Christmas AND your birthday are coming up! This will pass. Time always does.
2. Follow the LIGHT. Literally. get yourself out of bed and face the sun ASAP. Close your eyes and look through your eyelids and let that un-namable color soak through. The one that's pink and purple and black and burning at the same time. The light is your friend.
Also, happy lamps/lights are a real thing. Pull yours out from storage. Wipe of the dust. Put it at your desk and USE IT. It won't make you "happy" but it will energize you to some degree.
Energy = motivation = productivity = satisfaction = happiness.
It's a process.
3. BABY STEPS. give yourself an attainable checklist and pride yourself in any little thing you can cross off.
wake up. check
get out of bed. check
eat something. preferable a food that energizes you (grapefruit). check.
go on a walk. check
clap for yourself when you do anything productive (which when you have SAD can be "getting out of bed"). I'm serious. Take you hands and slap them together. And if that feels too silly, youtube clapping sounds. you deserve affirmation.
I BELIEVE IN CLAPPING.
4. TALK. It's hard to talk about "it". So don't make that your immediate goal. Just make communication the goal. touch base with someone. Text someone. Have a communication line out in the world SOMEWHERE. Isolation feeds SAD in the worst ways possible. It's easier to be alone. Reach out in some way to someone, and if you can, try and talk about the hard stuff. Maybe talking for you needs to be more serious, more in depth. Look into therapy. Look into groups. Most communities have some type of program that is accessible/affordable (many free). Talk talk talk. I've gone to therapy off and on since I was 7. I'm hopeful I'll still be going when this is posted in November marking over 2 years of nearly weekly therapy. Yup. talk.
5. Lastly, this experience does not define you. Your feelings, chemical make-up, pre-disposition, whatever. These things are not YOU. They don't define you, they don't determine you. They are things. You are not things. You are something more and greater than this. Talk to God. Or whatever your high-power belief is. Know that you are your potential and your potential is unlimited.
*There are many different forms and levels of SAD and depression. I'm of course, no doctor. Professional guidance is always a good idea. These are just things I've found to help me in my situation. I'm not anti-medication either. I just haven't taken that path, yet. I'm open to it. I have found taking vitamins (B12, Vitamin C, etc) to be helpful. Also eating clean when all I want is fries (my form of "comfort food"). I'm also not 100% hippie but I do like my Grapefruit essential oil. Calm down. I'm not claiming it healed me. Grapefruit is my happy spirit fruit. The colors, smell, and taste truly brighten my mood. So maybe it's the placebo effect but damnit, If the placebo works for me then great! All in all its about finding what works for YOU. Take the time to figure it out because you are worth it. Joy is worth it.