Everyone mentions it and makes jokes about it but who really is talking about what it feels like? For me, summer has always been my favorite season. I don’t mind the heat and I crave being out in the sun, feet in the sand or the dirt, and feeling life with each step. When the sun starts the get dimmer and further away, it makes me feel dimmer and further away too. The days get shorter and colder, which means less time I want to be outside.
It’s a feeling of restlessness and boredom. You want to do things and be accomplished, but at times the energy just isn’t there. It feels like my energy comes and goes with the sun.
I find myself becoming less motivated and more paranoid. Do my friends like me? Am I just annoying to them? The self-doubt leaks in with the chill from the wind outside. Typically, I unconsciously balance this out by distracting myself: I plan an adventure. Whether it be to a national park or somewhere international. I plan to forget the sadness and worry I feel during the winter months. With the pandemic, this is hard to do. So I sit around wanting to do more but not always having the energy to do what I want to do.
And I know I’m not alone. Most people struggle with seasonal depression in one form or another. Some of us think of ourselves as sun-babies. We compare ourselves to plants. But where does that leave us when our hormones are thrown off by changes in sun patterns? What do we do to help ourselves?
This is something I’ve felt a big struggle with this year. Specifically, within the last few weeks, I’ve felt a similar seasonal depression from one I experienced four years ago, that got REALLY bad. And that’s scary. When you’ve been in a dark place you want to do everything you can to keep yourself from going there again. It’s this feeling of familiarity and dread creeping back into you. It’s not something I talk with anyone about. I’ve never told my friends or family when I’ve felt depressed or sad. I pretend like I am “fine” and listen to their problems, even when it feels like I can’t bear to hear another thing because it would be too much for me to handle. Sometimes, I have to tune out other people when they are describing things in their life that make them unhappy because it’s overwhelming to imagine advising someone else when I am not well myself.
So, today, I am trying something for myself and see what Google can tell me to help all of us with seasonal depression.
Here are the top tips:
It’s not much. But it’s something. To anyone suffering from seasonal depression: I’m with you. We will make it to sunnier days.
If you or a loved one is suffering from a mental illness and not sure where to start, try contacting SAMHSA at 1-800-662-4357. This is a free service to advise on the next steps locally.
An elementary school educator by day, grad student by night. And I somehow manage to live life to the fullest in-between.