With summer officially over and those dark cold nights are starting to draw in, it’s little wonder it can leave you feeling down.
But when is it just more than that? And when do these feelings become depression. When this happens in winter it’s called Seasonal Affective Disorder.
What is Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD as it’s more commonly known (information below up to points are direct from the NHS website)
The symptoms of seasonal affective disorder (SAD) are similar to those of normal depression, but they occur repetitively at a particular time of year.
They usually start in the autumn or winter and improve in the spring.
The nature and severity of SAD varies from person to person. Some people just find the condition a bit irritating, while for others it can be severe and have a significant impact on their day-to-day life.
Signs that you may be depressed include:
- a persistent low mood
- a loss of pleasure or interest in normal everyday activities
- feeling irritable
- feelings of despair, guilt and worthlessness
- low self-esteem
- feeling stressed or anxious
- a reduced sex drive
- becoming less sociable
For me my first experience of SAD was the Autumn/Winter of 2017. I had heard of SAD but during this time I was clueless that this is what was wrong with me.
It hit me really hard. I was crying at home uncontrollable alot and I would sit on the bedroom floor and have literal meltdowns and be inconsolable or lock myself in the bathroom by sitting behind the door. I felt like I had fallen into a very dark hole and couldn’t see a way out. Also that saying you can’t see the wood for the trees was so relevant then.
I also didn’t talk about it, I completely shut my feelings off from those around me and became very distant. My walls went up and I didn’t want to let anyone in on those feelings.
There was alot of turmoil and rage and I honestly at the time couldn’t put my finger on it. I also don’t think my crohn’s symptoms then were all that stable and that really doesn’t help with mental health. It compounds the issue.
Fast forward to 2018 when it starts getting light again, I felt like a new person like the fog had lifted and the veil was removed from my eyes and I could finally start to see the beauty in life again and that things weren’t so bad.
I carried on with life as normal. Thinking very little on what had transpired over winter.
2018 Winter rolls round, I feel very down in the dumps I was a little more aware this time of it happening given how the previous year was. But still it’s not something I was prepared for. I talked more with my partner but not with anyone else. Again I shut them out and didn’t talk about my feelings, or even socialise with anyone.
I would tell people I was fine when I clearly wasn’t, or brush them off and say I didn’t want to talk about it. Other times I just didn’t communicate at all.
Now this is hard to admit but I seriously considered one day just drowning myself in the canal. I’d gone for a walk rather than face up to talking about things and as I stood on a particularly quiet section of the water and kept staring in and I was thinking surely the world would be better of without me in it, I felt like a burden and a loser.
Also I really just wanted to stop feeling like shit.
Obviously I was rational enough to walk away from that edge but I didn’t seek any medical intervention until after that year when my physical health also took a bit of a dive.
I did also have some undiagnosed vitamin D issues so that probably added to my feelings.
Both years were very unpleasant and emotional around those times and didn’t just affect me but those close to me.
2019 I don’t feel like I had SAD, I really don’t have much of an answer as to why but I took the initiative and bought myself a daylight lamp from amazon for about £35 quid, bit like the picture but mine isn’t on the website now.
I used it in a morning at work and around 4 o’clock before I went home. I had also told work about my previous depression around this time of year and they were fully supportive even offering that I could go home if things go to much later in the day.
Journalling also helped immensely to help note down my feelings so I could try and make sense of them.
I think the biggest things I learned through these experiences is that I’m not crazy and that we all have to look after our mental health even of we don’t suffer from depression.
Also that you should talk talk talk about your feelings with those you trust and that care about you, a problem shared is a problem havled and all that. This can be difficult, scary and embarrassing and if you really can’t face that there are helplines out there, which I have used myself like:
The Samaritans, it’s free and confidential – 116 123 https://www.samaritans.org
And for me if I ever feel this way again it is to seek medical help, even if its early intervention, there is no shame in needing that helping hand to set you right whatever the plan maybe, whether counselling or antidepressants.
Our lives are precious and we totally deserve to be here living life and shining like the stars we are.
If SAD is affecting you or has affected you in the past why not drop me a comment if you like.