Dealing With Seasonal Affective Disorder

Baby, It's Cold Outside, But That Doesn't Mean You Have To Suffer Through The Winter Blues

There is a difference between feeling gloomy because you have to trek to campus in the cold and feeling like you literally cannot get out of bed because of it.

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As the days get darker and colder, some of us might be feeling more under the weather. But there is a difference between feeling gloomy because you have to trek to campus in the cold and feeling like you literally cannot get out of bed because of it.

Seasonal affective disorder (aptly shortened to SAD) is a mental illness characterized by the onset of depression-like symptoms during changes in weather patterns. The most common form occurs around winter when shorter days and a lack of sunlight can wreak havoc on melatonin levels. Winter is also a time where many people feel lonely and demoralized (there is a reason for cuffing season.)

The important thing to realize is that people with SAD are not alone. Recent research suggests that it affects thousands of Americans. Sunny Florida is believed to have the lowest incidence, with 1.4% of the state's population suffering from SAD each year. On the other end of the scale, Alaska has the highest incidence at 9%.

The National Institutes for Mental Health (NIMH) offers a few possible therapies for combating SAD symptoms. One of the most commonly known is light-exposure therapy. This is when people spend upwards of half an hour a day being exposed to a special light that is made to mimic sunlight. It is typically recommended that light therapy is done in the morning to cohere with natural sunlight patterns in the summer.

NIMH also recommends psychotherapy, if accessible. If it isn't, try reaching out to friends or family. Sometimes having a support network of people who care about you can help you pull through the coming weeks.

Also remember to drink plenty of fluids, and try to get as many fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. With the various viruses running amok this time of the year, it is more important than ever to take care of yourself. Even if you don't necessarily have SAD, these actions can help keep your mental health up in the cold throes of the coming winter. Good luck to everyone with finals!

If you or anyone you know is feeling suicidal, please call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255. If you or someone you know is actively suicidal, please call 911.

Stony Brook CAPS is also open Monday-Friday from 9:00 AM-5:00 PM and available to contact via phone at (631) 632-6720 after hours.

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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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I Absolutely Hate Saying Goodbye To Cold Weather

Will a few more months of winter really be that bad?

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On Sunny days I dream of cold and on cold days I dream of cooler. It's funny because I'm not like your typical southern gal. Born and raised In Columbia, SC, but I feel like deep down I have always been a northerner at heart. I just love cold weather.

Fall is my favorite season of course. I mean, honestly, what can you not love about fall! There are the leave changes, crisp cool weather and the ever anticipated fall fashion haul. I get excited just thinking about it. Now, most of my family is from up north, was born in the north or practically believes the north to be their second home. And then there's me. The girl who absolutely adores cool weather but has yet to travel up North. Weird right?

As I say my final goodbyes to the last weeks hopefully of winter. I think to the memories where my children with effervescent spirits may one day be able to experience a white Christmas, slope the great white slopes, sit and drink mocha by the crackling sounds of holiday fires and warm fuzzy sweaters.

As I speak with my northern counterparts they would disagree. In most cases, they would advise me that wanting to move up North would be one of the worst things ever! They remind me of the constant snow plowing that they have to sort through, the rundown metro stations and the lack of consideration towards all of these things. A constant reminder that unlike down south where we experience one pinch of snow, we go through what seems like a full government shutdown.

This I may miss, but weighing out all of my options and exhausting all needs.. I will still not want to say goodbye to cold weather.

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