Winter is upon us here in the Pacific Northwest! It’s already snowed, the temperatures are struggling to stay above 40F, and our Christmas tree is up! Aside from all the lights and presents lurks a monster that many of us struggle with this season. It’s the SADS: Seasonal Affective Disorder. Literally, you feel sad and you even walk sadly. It’s the kind of blah-ness that comes with the not seeing the sun for weeks on end. But, when the sun comes out, you feel like skipping through the streets and playing some fun rap song on the radio with the windows down.
Mental health issues are a real thing and by no means should we ever be dramatic about depression, anxiety, etc. With that said, seasonal depression, while grueling and painful, lifts when the sun peaks during the winter and disappears completely by spring and summer. I am not sure that you should lump yourself into the same category as those who truly suffer from depression and try to say you understand how they feel. SAD sufferers are kind of on the tip of the iceberg. People who manage depression year round are in the iceberg. So, what I’m saying is don’t be a jerk to someone dealing with depression and say, “I know how that feels because I have it just in the winter, from November 28h to December 3rd.” You’re going to get some evil eye emojis back at you.
My own experience with the SADS started when I moved to Seattle after we got married in 2010. My first winter seemed exciting at first but then I was always sleepy, tired, unmotivated, and moody. I started regretting moving here and thought about living a separate but married life from my husband safe from the dark clouds back in sunny Southern California. I didn’t realize that I was dealing with the SADS until 2011 when the sun didn’t come out from November until the next year in March. I got one of those light boxes and a Keurig to try to keep my sanity.
Ever since I went on WEBMD where they told me it wasn’t a tumor or Malaria, I’ve learned how to deal with the dark winter months in Seattle. I take vitamins, exercise, drink coffee (not like jugs even though I may lead you to believe I do), installed super bright lights in my house, and interact with people who don’t seem affected by the weather as much.
I can tell you that it feels like you’re trying to run the daily race wearing 500 lbs ankle weights. You can’t distinguish day from night. It feels like you’re perpetually living in a day that’s always 630am or 435pm. Your body is constantly releasing melatonin due to lack of vitamin D so you are fighting to keep the happy hormones in your system. Quick tip: 65 jumping jacks can do wonders.
Anyway, if you are like pretty meh and blah once winter hits, you are not alone and it’s ok to admit you are dealing with the SADS. Tell your family, your friends, and most likely, they will commiserate with you. I will commiserate with you!
Try to get out often, be in the world even though it’s easy to stay cooped up like a chicken who can’t even free range at home. Target is your friend. Getting coffee with your friend in the afternoon can get all the happy hormones flowing and you’ll soon forget that it’s dark outside at 334pm.
I wrote about this a little more seriously over at TERIMIYAHIRA.COM where I include some science and facts, and a lot less rambling. Check it out below!