Winter is Coming.
It seems fitting to write about this subject as the seasons begins to change in the coming days and weeks. Interestingly enough it’s going to be 95 degrees here, which a typical California fall, where it’s hot one day and cold the next. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is defined on WebMD as a type of depression that happens every year during the same period during the winter months. For me, this is always the worst time of year no matter where I am at with my depression cycles.
My official diagnosis is Bipolar One with a seasonal component. My worst months are always November and December. What makes November so complicated and tough is because in my past this month has always been the month of some of my worst depression. The week of Thanksgiving 2007 I tried unsuccessfully to commit suicide and spent a week in the psych ward. I once spent the entire month of December in bed, or at least it felt that way. It was also in December that my second suicide attempt happened and I spent the end of 2007 and the beginning of 2008 in the psych ward.
I have never been able to figure out why my depression spirals out of control during the winter months. It never fails. Even when I am in a good place with my depressions, as it gets colder, I find myself having a harder time to do simple tasks like getting out bed. It can be a chore to just be me.
The last few years I have been better at tracking things like my moods during the winter months. I start to keep a real thorough record of day to day mood swings, and I rate my depression every day on a scale of 1-10 with ten being the most intense. It becomes imperative for me to work out my body and mind so that I can stay on top of my depression.
One of the most effective things that I used last year during the winter months was my lightbox. I use already daily, but I usually increase the duration of usage during the winter months to an hour a day. I will sit at my desk with the light from box radiating onto my skin and just write. My last full-time psychiatrist before the revolving door of psychiatrist started again told me one of the problems with my depression in the winter months is that I fail to get enough sunlight. It makes sense when the cloudy coastal weather happens all the time during this time of year. It was even more imperative in January/February of this year to have my lightbox when I wasn’t leaving my house at all because of my anxiety.
That is probably the worst part of this time of year. In the past I have used the winter months as an excuse because my depression and social anxiety spirals to not leave my house as often I do during the summer months. It is easy to convince myself that staying in bed feels so much better. The upside? Years of experience has taught me that it is possible to get out there and do things even when I am depressed.
This year it will be different. I will find happiness in the little things like the seasonal drinks at Starbucks like the chestnut praline latte or gingerbread latte. I can revel in the fact that I am not only writing almost daily on my blog, but I am moving closer every day to completing my memoir and other projects. I am submitting my screenplay to several fall competitions and some of my poetry with the hope to get noticed as a writer. I am stronger this year because I have been able to reflect on my past. If I do things right, the ending of this year into the next will be great.
Will I struggle? Of course, its life we are talking about, so it happens.
I would like to hear others share their stories with Seasonal Affective Disorder or a seasonal element to your diagnosis.
Always keep fighting.
Photo Credit: Denys Nevozhai