Mental Illness affects all of us in some way or another. Whether we have friends or family members who live with a mental illness or we ourselves live with a mental illness; we have been impacted and it is not something we should take lightly. Mental Illness is mental illness any which way you put it, but I can say that Seasonal Depression is a beast in it of itself.
Seasonal Depression or Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a mood disorder in which a person experiences depression during the same time every year; typically during the end of the year. The holidays are a time to be with family, a time meant for joy and love with the people that mean the most to you. This year was my first year battling seasonal depression, and it hit me like a ton of bricks. So to the girl battling seasonal depression...you are not alone.
This was more than a wicked case of PMS, or the winter blue. I felt like I was standing in a room full of people screaming at the top of my lungs and no one could hear me. Ultimately I felt alone, and no amount of holiday movies and holiday cheer was going to cheer me up. To the girl battling this inevitable feeling, I hear you. Too many times people try to tell you, "just cheer up!" or "there's no reason to be sad." but they just don't understand. This isn't something that you can just turn off and on like a switch, you can't control it and this isn't something you wished for...it just happens, and it's not your fault. Here are a few small tips to help you get through the winter blues; it won't erase the "problem" but it will make it easier to cope.
1. Open the curtains, and let the light in. The presence of sunlight lifts spirits and has even been seen to raise moods
2. Swap the comfort food for wholesome foods...Who doesn't love a good taco? I use Taco Inspired Hummus with some sliced peppers, it definitely does the trick!
3. Exercise regularly, even if it's just taking a 30-minute walk around the block.
4. Stick to a schedule, the temptation to curl up and sleep all day will creep up; don't let it win! By sticking to a schedule, you're keeping yourself accountable and socializing.
5. Do things you like to do, it's okay to say "no" to some social gatherings. instead of isolating yourself completely to your room; try doing some fun activities, and on those days when you really can't bear human contact... PAMPER YOURSELF!
6. When all else fails, learn to laugh at yourself; I can't tell you how many times my Seasonal Affective Disorder struck and I sat down, reflected and realized how I may seem to others. Here are a few seasonal depression jokes brought to you by BuzzFeed
After all, this is about self-care!
Seasonal Affective Disorder is more common than you think. When you feel you are standing in a room full of people screaming and no one hears; just know you are not alone. Over half a million people with this mood disorder in the US experience these symptoms varying between depression, sleep disorders and mood changes in December, January, and February. If you haven't already done so, get help. Talk to your physician about what you're experiencing, join a support group or confide in a trusted friend/family member.