Summertime has always been my favorite season. The sun is always out, and the warmth of the day allows me to be productive. There’s something about the warmer months that brings out my positivity and enhances my happiness, and I’m sure I'm not the only one.
When it starts to get cold outside all these feelings begin to fade. I tend to become less productive and less optimistic. Speaking in full vulnerability, “seasonal depression” is a real thing, and I amongst several other people have experienced this.
Medically known as Seasonal affective disorder, this disorder usually begins in the early months of fall and can last up through winter until spring. While it may seem like it’s just a temporary sadness or sluggish feeling, Seasonal affective disorder can deeply affect your life. The symptoms usually include a decrease in energy, an overwhelming sadness, feeling sluggish, lack of motivation, oversleeping, appetite changes and more. The word disorder may be scary to hear or you may feel that what you are experiencing does not warrant to be titled “disorder,” but this is the official term used to best describe what many people experience and if you are experiencing this, it does not make you any less of the awesome person that you are.
When I experienced this seasonal depression last winter, I didn’t fully understand what was happening. I simply thought that I was just weak and felt too deeply about things. It wasn’t until a friend advised me to speak to someone about what was happening that I realized the magnitude of this issue. Seasonal affective disorder is not something that you should ignore and you should never blame yourself for feeling how you do. This is something that happens to people, and it is very real.
One way to battle this disorder is to speak to a therapist. While it may seem temporary, it can affect you in a larger way than you think, and it is appropriate to get the right help. During the time I was experiencing this, I was very scared. There were times I would not go to school or work and just lie in bed all day; every aspect of my life and normal living was affected. I say this to show you the magnitude of this issue and to encourage you to get help if Seasonal affective disorder is impacting you. Through my struggles, I have learned so much, and I want to share that with you.
While speaking to a therapist is a huge resource to your mental health, I also encourage you to keep pushing. As it gets colder outside, it is going to begin to get harder to want to be outside or be productive. It is tempting to lock yourself away in your room to stay warm all the time, but this will hurt you.
During this time, you need to be proactive in helping yourself as well. Go for a light jog or walk outside when you begin to feel sad. A breath of fresh air is vital to feeling lighter and feeling even just a tad better during your day. Get cozy in your winter gear and look at all the wonderful things around you while you are on your walk.
Make sure that you are still sticking to your normal schedule of productivity.Being productive helps you feel a sense of accomplishment and pride in your day. Even if you are having trouble and notice that you are slacking in what you need to do for the day, don’t be so hard on yourself. If you can only complete one task that day, then that is more than enough. It is important to remind yourself during this time that you do not need to feel shameful for what you cannot do—just keep taking small steps to a better you.
If I fail to accomplish any of my tasks that I needed to do for a day, then I just simply tighten up my room and light an incense stick that instantly makes me feel a bit better. If cleaning or making your bed is the smallest accomplishment you have for a day, then so be it.
As I mention cleaning your space, I want to express how important it is to have a clean home. Clearing your space can clear your mind. To point back to my own experiences with this disorder, it was difficult to want to even clean my room. It began to get very messy which ultimately affected my health even more. Now, I ensure to tidy up my area every day. Even if it’s before bed that you clean your space, you’ll be able to sleep better which can in turn reduce your insomnia or prevent you from being so tired and oversleeping the next day.
There are many things you can do feel good during these hard times. I am not saying that it is easy or that you will feel 100 percent—but taking care of yourself even while you’re feeling this overwhelming sadness is very important. Seasonal depression was very hard on me and I wish that during the time, I was more aware of what was happening so that I could take the proper actions.
Please do not dismiss your feelings or try to brush them off. If you feel like talking to a licensed professional will help, please do so. There is no shame in admitting to yourself or to others that you need help, and this should not be dismissed just because it feels like a temporary thing. Read books on well-being and listen to positive music. Don’t cancel all your plans and stay home all the time. Do your best to live your best life during this hard time.
If you yourself don’t experience this but notice someone going through it—please reach out and let them know they are not alone. There are many on campus resources provided for mental health and many people that want to be there for you. Keep keeping on.