I have depression as well as Seasonal Affective Disorder.
If you’ve been following my blog for awhile, I’ve mentioned both several times. The way my usual depression differs from S.A.D. is in it’s intensity. My depression is like allergies: annoying, always present, and occasionally has a huge flare up before dying back down to general hum. My experiences with S.A.D. are more like the flu: heavy, exhausting, and incapacitating.
This last week my S.A.D. hit hard.
We’ve had a mild winter this year. Little snow, few intensely cold days, and decent amounts of sunshine. Last week, however, that was all gone. We had a cold snap that gripped the whole state in the same manner that Elsa froze-over Arendale*. It snowed just about every day, and temperatures fell into the single digits (Fahrenheit to my non-U.S. readers). It was too cold and stormy to walk to work, and too gloomy and gray to call the outdoors a “winter wonderland”. My energy was drained like the color in the landscape, and my temperature was as short as a December day. Before I knew it, I hit a rut.
So I did nothing.
I’ve talked about depressive ruts before and how I’ve escaped them. My advise is generally the same: be kind to yourself. Once again, I’m repeating that. Instead of beating myself up for feeling sad or lazy, I gave myself the break I needed and took the week slowly. I decided not to work on any of “should-dos” and focused only on my “have to-dos”. I went to work, and I came home. That was it. No side-hustles, no personal projects, and no goals. I just did what I needed to do, and what I had the energy for to make it through the week– and it worked.
I made it through the week.
When the sun returned for the weekend I celebrated with by having lunch with a friend, and spending the day out of my apartment. If the weekend was cold and dreary as well, I probably would have needed to snap myself out of my slump using less pleasant methods, but this time around there was no need. Taking the week off my usual schedule has given me a little breather to regain the energy I need for this week.
Caveat to this Story:
I know I’m lucky that my depressive rut only lasted a week. In the past these S.A.D. episodes have lasted for weeks or months at a time, and I know in the future that may occur again. I am also lucky that I had the luxury to cut back on my schedule to give myself the time and space I needed to reset. My side-hustles and personal goals are fully optional and do not impact my financial bottom-line. I have been in the position where classes, homework, or extra jobs were necessary parts of my schedule, and it all became overwhelming, which would make things even worse.
If you find yourself in a depressive rut, be patient with yourself. Give yourself a little break and some love, then pick back up and try again. Try not to fall down a shame spiral, or a depression hole. Continue to try to do what you have to do, even if it means doing it half-way (i.e. please feed yourself, bathe yourself, etc.) Remember that balance is key, and rest, work, and play are all parts of living a happy, healthy, and productive life. Please seek professional help if have thoughts of hopelessness or suicide, or if you need someone to talk to for any reason. Winter is an especially difficult time for everyone, so whether or not you have been diagnosed with depression or S.A.D. remember that you aren’t alone in feeling sluggish or blue during the cold season.
*I do not own Frozen nor do I intend to profit in any way from it’s story, characters, or merchandise).