As the weather begins to cool, the leaves begin to fall, and the days become shorter with the time change, my mood typically goes with it. Around the beginning of November I notice a cloud that begins to follow me. By the end of November the funk is alive and well in full force make me an anxious, sad, ball of mess.
Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD is a type of depression that relates to the change of season. They typically arise the same time each year; starting in late fall and ending in early spring or when the sun comes back out. Summertime SAD is common but less frequent.
I have never been a fan of the holidays. My spinal cord injury just amplified my dislike for the season. Every year I am reminded of the tasks that are a little more difficult for me, so I don’t partake at all. Putting up various decorations including the tree, lights, wreaths – I avoid these like the plague. My drive for life is extremely dulled and my awareness of my disability is magnified to the highest degree.
Could it be the cold weather? The grey skies? Or is it my that my last walking memory was the Holidays?
My fondest memory is December 21st, 2014. My aunts and uncles piled in their vehicles to make the drive to North Carolina from Ohio for the Browns v. Panthers football game. My parents had rented a party bus as a Christmas gift to the family. It reminded me of when I was a kid living in ohio, the entire family would come to our house on Christmas Eve. It was always my favorite part of the holidays. None of us knew less than a month later our lives would change forever…
How to beat seasonal depression…can you beat it?
- The most popular recommendation for seasonal depression is a light box. I personally enjoy the Sun Angel Tanning bed at Kimber Tanz. I put on headphones with sounds of the ocean and meditate my way to a warm beach. I notice this significantly improves my mood, but I try not to lay more than 3 times a week for my skin health. The limited daylight hours and chilly weather of the winter months make it difficult, but getting natural sunlight is the best remedy. Another suggestion is more light through a dawn simulator. It is like an alarm clock. Rather than using noise it simulates the sun rising.
- Schedules are critical to most people’s sanity. Keeping a routine prevents SAD symptoms.
Take a nighttime bath or use a diffuser with calming essential oils. I personally use lavender and chamomile. (For more about essential oils email me at [email protected]). Aromatherapy is great for mood enhancing.
- The hardest SAD struggle I have is my drive to do anything. I have to force myself to get out of bed. I may complain the entire time but I do it anyways. Keep a packed schedule to staying proactive.
- Go to the gym, a solid sweat session always improves my mood, plus you are helping with the weight gain that commonly accompanies seasonal depression.
- Talk to your doctor about seasonal depression and your vitamin D levels. It may be beneficial for you to take a Vitamin D supplement or in extreme cases an antidepressant.
- Self-care is imperative to overcoming SAD symptoms. Keeping a journal helps. I personally try to write daily 7 things I am Proud of myself for, Forgive myself for, and Commit to myself. Meditation is also a solid self-care tool. Try everything and find out what works for you. (For more about self care email me at [email protected]).