Yes, Seasonal Depression Is Real, And No, You're Not Alone

Yes, Seasonal Depression Is A Real Thing, And No, You're Not Alone

About five percent of the U.S. population experience symptoms of seasonal depression or Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) every single year.

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Well, here we are again. Another holiday season has come and passed and the only thing that's merry and bright in my life right now is the Christmas tree in my living room, still lit up as if Christmas wasn't three weeks ago. Being a Midwesterner has its highs and lows. It's nice being able to count on snow at least once before Christmas, but it's awful knowing you've got at least six snowstorms coming at you in the three and a half months following. It's hard keeping spirits high when every day is gray and cold.

If you notice your mood lagging down more than usual around this time of year, you are not alone.

About five percent of the U.S. population experience symptoms of seasonal depression or Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) every single year. That's about 16.5 million people.

So, what is SAD exactly? It's a subtype of depression that comes and goes with the seasons, but most people experience it during the winter months. It can make you feel fatigued, low energy, moodiness, and a number of other symptoms. Essentially, it reinforces your already-lazy winter behavior, and it makes you want to stay in bed for the rest of the season. It can really suck the life out of you.

There are several different methods that have been known to help treat SAD. First, you should talk to your doctor about what you're feeling and be honest with them and yourself. Your doctor might prescribe a new medication or perhaps some physical activity. Keep an open mind to their suggestions, even if you're feeling discouraged about your mental health. It's a complicated headspace to be in, but don't let it get the best of you. Your doctor wants to help guide you to a peaceful place in your mind, so be open to suggestions and advice, even though you know what's best for you in the long run.

Many people who have SAD say the best treatment is sunlight. During the winter months indoors, there isn't a lot of exposure to direct sunlight, which is a good source of vitamin D in humans! When there's that lack of vitamin D, you'll begin to feel sluggish. I'm aware not everyone has the budget or time to schedule a mid-winter vacation due to lack of positive energy, but you still need to set aside time devoted to making yourself feel good. You might also consider investing in a light-therapy energy lamp! These lamps emit bright white light that helps your boosts your mood and make you feel like you've been laying on the beach all morning.

No matter what's got you down this winter, remember that it is only a few more months until we're back to sunny and 75-degree weather. Do your best to make the most of the cold months! Enjoy leggings and hot-coffee season while it lasts and keep your chin up! Summer is just around the corner.

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To The Person Who Feels Suicidal But Doesn't Want To Die

Suicidal thoughts are not black and white.
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Everyone assumes that if you have suicidal thoughts that means you want to die.

From an outside perspective, suicidal thoughts are rarely looked into deeper than the surface level. Either you have suicidal thoughts and you want to die, or you don't have suicidal thoughts and you want to live. What most people don't understand is that people live in between those two statements, I for one am one of them.

I've had suicidal thoughts since I was a kid.

My first recollection of it was when I came home after school one day and got in trouble, and while I was just sitting in the dining room I kept thinking, “I wonder what it would be like to take a knife from the kitchen and just shove it into my stomach." I didn't want to die, or even hurt myself for that matter. But those thoughts haven't stopped since.

I've thought about going into the bathroom and taking every single pill I could find and just drifting to sleep and never waking back up, I've thought about hurting myself to take the pain away, just a few days ago on my way to work I thought about driving my car straight into a tree. But I didn't. Why? Because even though that urge was so strong, I didn't want to die. I still don't, I don't want my life to end.

I don't think I've ever told anyone about these feelings. I don't want others to worry because the first thing anyone thinks when you tell them you have thoughts about hurting or killing yourself is that you're absolutely going to do it and they begin to panic. Yes, I have suicidal thoughts, but I don't want to die.

It's a confusing feeling, it's a scary feeling.

When the depression takes over you feel like you aren't in control. It's like you're drowning.

Every bad memory, every single thing that hurt you, every bad thing you've ever done comes back and grabs you by the ankle and drags you back under the water just as you're about the reach the surface. It's suffocating and not being able to do anything about it.

The hardest part is you never know when these thoughts are going to come. Some days you're just so happy and can't believe how good your life is, and the very next day you could be alone in a dark room unable to see because of the tears welling up in your eyes and thinking you'd be better off dead.

You feel alone, you feel like a burden to everyone around you, you feel like the world would be better off without you. I wish it was something I could just turn off but I can't, no matter how hard I try.

These feelings come in waves.

It feels like you're swimming and the sun is shining and you're having a great time until a wave comes and sucks you under into the darkness of the water. No matter how hard you try to reach the surface again a new wave comes and hits you back under again, and again, and again.

And then it just stops.

But you never know when the next wave is going to come. You never know when you're going to be sucked back under.

I always wondered if I was the only one like this.

It didn't make any sense to me, how did I think about suicide so often but not want to die? But I was thinking about it in black and white, I thought I wasn't allowed to have those feelings since I wasn't going to act on them. But then I read articles much like this one and I realized I'm not the only one. Suicidal thoughts aren't black and white, and my feelings are valid.

To everyone who feels this way, you aren't alone.

I thought I was for the longest time, I thought I was the only one who felt this way and I didn't understand how I could feel this way. But please, I implore you to talk to someone, anyone, about the way you're feeling, whether it be a family member, significant other, a friend, a therapist.

My biggest mistake all these years was never telling anyone how I feel in fear that they would either brush me off because “who could be suicidal but not want to die?" or panic and try to commit me to a hospital or something. Writing this article has been the greatest feeling of relief I've felt in a long time, talking about it helps. I know it's scary to tell people how you're feeling, but you're not alone and you don't have to go through this alone.

Suicidal thoughts aren't black and white, your feelings are valid, and there are people here for you. You are not alone.

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


Cover Image Credit: BengaliClicker

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