No, It's Not Just 'Being Sad,' It's S.A.D., Seasonal Affective Disorder

No, It's Not Just 'Being Sad,' It's S.A.D., Seasonal Affective Disorder

Just in case the holidays aren't the most joyous time of year for you.


The holidays are widely recognized as a joyous time of the year. However, for some, it marks the beginning of a seemingly never-ending road. Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) tends to appear in the late fall and continues throughout the winter, synonymous with the American holiday season. Struggling with mental health makes it difficult to enjoy the holidays and talking to relatives becomes draining. Christmas songs are reduced to just noise, and the weather serves as another reason to stay in bed all day.

SAD is a type of depression that is not mentioned as often as major depression but cannot be ignored.

Major depression and SAD are similar. SAD is essentially a type of depression that occurs seasonally. It shares most of the same symptoms as major depression, including low energy, sleeping excessively, withdrawal, and overeating. Though SAD occurs more frequently in the fall and winter months, it can appear during summer as well. The symptoms are slightly different, characterized by poor appetite, insomnia, and anxiety, just to name a few. SAD is not limited to these symptoms exclusively and can include other common characteristics of major depression.

Depression, in terms of the range of mental illnesses, is one of the most common.

Due to this, it is seen as less severe than others, less scary. And while there are valid reasons for these types of perspectives, depression is seriously detrimental to one's mental health. Speaking personally, it feels like an emptiness has overtaken you. Emotions are replaced by an overwhelming feeling of hopelessness. Appetite becomes nonexistent and it is easy to go a day or two without eating much. Any sort of social interaction becomes a monumental task and the guilt for feeling this way is immense. Couple these symptoms with the approaching holiday season and it feels impossible to get through.

During the coming months, keep in mind that people are battling struggles on a daily basis. Educate yourself and learn the warning signs of depression, for your sake, and for others. Just because a friend canceled on you doesn't mean they're a flake. They could be isolating themselves. If someone doesn't seem interested in the conversation, it may just be because they've entered a depressive episode that makes socializing particularly difficult. Be mindful and offer help and resources to those around you.

Recognizing mental illness in your life or someone else's may not be easy.

It can be uncomfortable and frustrating, lonely and terrifying. There is no simple fix and it takes time to recover. Being understanding and having compassion, whether it be for yourself or others, is crucial when acknowledging mental illness. Depression can be debilitating, it can be extensive, but it helps to have a little bit of light. Find yours.

National Hopeline Network: 1-800-SUICIDE (784-2433)

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)

National Youth Crisis Hotline: 1-800-448-4663

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What Losing Someone To Suicide Really Feels Like.

In Loving Memory of Andrew Allen Boykin (1997-2015)


A word that describes what it feels like to lose someone to suicide? That doesn't exist. It's actually a whole jumbled up pool of emotions. Almost unbearable comes to mind, but that still doesn't quite cover it. You never think it'll happen to someone you know, much less a family member.

Let me start off by telling you about my experience. I was up late one night studying for a big nursing test I had the next morning. My phone started ringing, and I automatically assumed it was my boyfriend who knew I would still be up at midnight. It wasn't, though. It was my mother, who usually goes to bed before 10 every night. I knew something bad had happened.

"Mama, what's wrong?" I could hear her crying already. "Baby, Andrew shot himself," my mother then told me. I flooded her with questions. Where? Is he okay? Why was he playing around with a gun this late? What happened? She then said, "No, baby, he killed himself."


Disbelief was my first reaction. No, that couldn't be true. Not my Andrew. Not my 17-year-old, crazy, silly, cousin Andrew. Not the kid who eats sour Skittles while we walk through Walmart and then throws away the pack before we get to the register. Not the kid who, while we all lay in the floor in Grandma's living room, is constantly cracking jokes and telling us stories about how he's a real ladies' man. This can't be real. I'm gonna go home and it is all just gonna be a mix-up.


It wasn't, though. I sat in the home of my grandparents, with the rest of my family, confused. We tried to go over what could have caused him to do it. Was it a girl? Did we do something wrong? He acted normal. Nothing seemed off, but I guess nobody will ever truly know.


For a minute there I was mad. How could he do this? Did he not know what this would do to everyone? So many people loved him. I just couldn't understand, but I wasn't Andrew. How could I understand?


Regret was my next feeling. Why didn't I do more? What could I have done? How did I not notice he was hurting so bad? There wasn't anyone who knew, though. For the longest time, I told myself that I should have texted him more or just made sure he knew I loved him. In the end, I always realize that there wasn't anything I could have done and that he knew I loved him.


The funeral was almost insufferable. A church filled with people who loved Andrew. People that would never get to see him or hear his laugh again. The casket was closed and the whole time all I could think about was how I just wanted to hold his hand one last time. My brother, who spent almost every weekend with Andrew since they were little, didn't even want to go inside. They were only a year and a half apart. At one point he just fell to the ground in tears. This kind of pain is the heart-breaking kind. The pain of picking a 15-year-old off the ground when he hurts so bad he can't even go on anymore.


This led to heartache. I thought so much about how his life was way too short. He would never get to graduate high school or go to college. He would never get his first grown-up job. He'd never get married or have children. Dwelling on these thoughts did some major damage to my heart. We missed him. We wanted him back, but we could never go back to how things were.


For a while after, I could honestly say I was numb. It had hurt so much I think my body shut down for a little while. That disbelief would pop up again and I would forget it was real. I'd try to block out the reminders but that doesn't really work. Every time I see sour Skittles I think about him, or wear this certain pair of earrings he'd always try to get me to give him.


This past week marked a whole year since he passed away. What am I feeling now? Still all of these things plus a little more. Longing is a good word. I miss him every day and wish so much that he was still here with us. I'll see little reminders of him and smile or laugh. We had so many good memories, and I could never forget those or him. That's what I cling to now. That was my Andrew.

In Loving Memory of Andrew Allen Boykin (1997-2015)

"If love could have saved you, you would have lived forever."

If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline — 1-800-273-8255

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10 Facts That You Need To Know And Keep In Mind When It Comes To Mental Health

Mental health is an important topic to talk about


Mental health is a serious subject that we need to start talking about and breaking down the stigma that comes with mental health and mental illness. I'm a strong believer that a person's mental health is just as important as someone's physical health. Here are 10 facts about mental health that you should know about.

1. Mental illness is common

According to Mental Health, in 2014, "One in five American adults experienced a mental health issue," while, "One in 25 Americans lived with a serious mental illness, such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or major depression." (Mental Health, 2014)

2. Suicide is one of the leading causes of death

It is the tenth overall cause of death in the United States. In 1980, there were 26,869 deaths when it came to suicide where in 2016, the number was at 44,965. (National Center for Health Statistics, 2016)

3. People with mental health problems are good employees

It is reported that they have good attendance, punctuality, they are motivated, and they produce good work.

4. The signs and symptoms of mental illness include:

Feeling sad, burned out, or useless that last more than a period of two weeks. If someone has ongoing worries/fears, sudden fear/panic, physical symptoms that can't be explained (like headaches or chronic pain), lack of energy, and when they want to spend their time by themselves instead of with other people, that's a sign of a mental illness.

5. There are a lot of treatment options, services, and community support systems

Studies show that people get better and most people recover completely. And they also show that they work in helping the patient get better.

6. There are many factors that contribute to mental health problems

Biological factors (genes, illness, brain chemistry), life experiences (trauma/abuse), and mental health problems in the family are just some factors that contribute to mental health problems.

7. People around you can make a difference

There are ways that you can help someone with mental illnesses, like being there for them and not defining them by the illness that they have. There are so many ways that you can help someone with mental illness.

8. Generally, people that have a mental illness are not violent

There are only a small part of those with mental illness that are violent in any way. According to USC, they state, "...only 3-5% of violent acts can be attributed to people with a serious mental illness." (USC, 2017).

9. People who are a part of the LGBTQ+ community are twice as likely to have a mental health condition than those who are not a part of the LGBTQ+ community

10. By the age of fourteen, half of all mental health disorders show first signs.

Then by age twenty-four, three quarters of mental health disorders begin.

Remember that mental health is important. People who have mental illness are not inferior to someone who doesn't have a mental illness. Mental illnesses are different for everyone who has it.

Let's start breaking down the stigma.

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