Christmas has come and gone in an almost uneventful way. The tree was lite, the presents wrapped, and stockings hung- but the joy just wasn’t there.
The dull browns, the dark days, the cold weather- something about it saps all my energy. It brings out all the sadness, the despair, and hopelessness. It’s as if part of us dies when the light fades- even those of us who prefer the night. I believe we are still deeply tied to the seasons, relying on the warmth and nourishment of the sun that threatens to disappear each winter. I find that there is peace and tranquility in the night under the dark sky- too much of that tranquility become dark reflection. That dark reflection quickly grabs hold and transforms into depression when left unchecked. That’s why so many ancient cultures planned such lavish festivals in mid-winter. During the holidays we buy gifts, go to parties, decorate, and celebrate to forget about the fading lights and growing darkness both in nature and in ourselves. The cycle of light and dark is such a delicate balance that’s both necessary, and terrifying- especially for those of us who suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder.
I haven’t been formally diagnosed with S.A.D., but I self-diagnosed myself with anxiety, depression, and PTSD before they were all three were confirmed by my physician then my therapist. I know myself well enough to recognize the symptoms and admit them. I know my depression gets worse in the winter months. I find myself restless, unable to concentrate. I’m unfocused, irritable, and unreliable. I’m prone to fits of loneliness and sadness. Out of nowhere, I’ll long for company, love, and commitment in a way I can’t fully explain. Still, that irritability, restlessness, sadness, and loneliness is still better than feeling nothing at all- which is another unfortunate symptom.
From the end of October to March I have to carefully monitor my emotions. How am I feeling? Why do I feel that way? Is the emotion rational? How can I turn this around? These are just a few of the many questions I’ve learned to ask myself during these months. I know I’m not the only person who suffers from this condition. I know it’s fairly common, especially in the northern regions. I know there are many ways to tricks and treats to living with the changing seasons: taking vitamin D, exercise, therapy, support groups, travel, and many more. For me, the way to deal with it all is to remind myself these feelings are temporary and don’t define who I am.