Seasonal affective disorder (SAD), also known as seasonal depression, is the constant internal battle within your mind, with yourself.
SAD is the never-ending state of exulansis. It’s your mind being unable to put the pieces together. It’s never knowing how you feel, forcing yourself to filter through your behavior for hidden clues as to an explanation why. It’s feeling something more than emptiness inside but still refusing to indulge in food nor socialization. It’s feeling okay one day, then falling apart the next. It’s intrusive anxiety. It’s ballistic bursts of insecurity. It’s not leaving bed for days at a time. It’s the fear of losing control, then losing all control. It’s the lack of sleep as your brain reminds you how worthless you are, coming back louder each night. It’s the loudest voice in your head. It’s the softest cries for help that go mute. It’s being lost inside yourself and never finding a way out. It’s losing your grip on everything. Relationships: Gone. Emotions: Gone. Life: Gone. It’s the entrapment in the dark with no memories of the light. It’s the perpetual fight with your demons and losing. Every single time. It takes a bigger chunk each time until you’re no longer.
According to the Mayo Clinic, seasonal affective disorder is a type of depression related to seasons’ change. Most symptoms begin at the start of fall and carry over into winter months, sometimes prolonging further than winter months. SAD is related to three main causes. While scientists cannot pin one specific cause, factors to blame include your biological clock, serotonin levels, and melatonin levels.
Your biological clock, also known as your circadian rhythm, is disrupted from the lack of sunlight in the fall and winter months and the increase of shorter darker days, causing one to fall into a dark depressive state. This causes a decrease in a brain chemical called serotonin, which is essentially where happiness comes from, along with the imbalance of melatonin, which disrupts your body’s sleep patterns and mood, contributing to depression. Other risk factors include your family history and your personal history with depression, such as if you have experienced depression outside of fall and winter months for causes unrelated to the lack of sunlight.
Symptoms are not limited to, but include:
- Feeling depressed, not temporarily sad, every day
- Losing interests in your favorite hobbies
- Loss of energy
- Insomnia and/or excessive sleeping
- Loss of appetite and/or overeating
- Obsessively overthinking
- Occurring thoughts of death and/or suicide
If you associate with any of the symptoms above, you may have SAD. This may be your first time experiencing such symptoms, and if it is- welcome to the club! If you’re familiar with these symptoms, back and worse than ever, right?
I’m here to tell you it’s OK.
Since seventh grade, I have struggled with depression; what started as a seed of seasonal depression rooted itself into a full blossoming of gloom. It started as comfort. It started as, “Staying in bed today won’t hurt,” “I’ll feel better tomorrow,” and “I’m fine.” It was warm at first. It had snatched my identity inside and out; I wasn’t sure who I was anymore. If there was a word to describe the emptiest feeling of emptiness, that’s who I’d be. I no longer felt anything.
I was a walking bag of bones, no heart, no soul, no warmth. There was nothing. It was no longer warm but heavy. The obsessive thoughts started as little whispers, “You’re nothing,” and “You’re unnecessary.” Reassuring remarks from loved ones sounded like, “I hate you,” instead of “I love you,” and “You’re so needy” instead of, “I’m here for you.” “You’re so annoying” instead of “You can talk to me.” The whispers turned into screams that got louder and louder each day. What was once heavy felt suffocating.
I couldn’t breathe. I was sinking further each day. A houseful of people, yet I was always so alone. All the voices in my head, but I felt nothing but pure loneliness. I was amazed at how versatile I’d become. Who knew it was so easy to smile in people’s faces every day and go home and cry until my eyes burn? Or what about thoughts of suicide while winning at Monopoly with my family? I think that’s a true talent if you ask me.
I’ll never forget the day my mom saw my marks. She tried so hard not to cry, but I could hear her sobs that same night. Those sobs echoed in my head for months, and sometimes they still do. My mom was the catalyst for my recovery. She was there for my episodes when the only words my mouth could formulate were, “I don’t want to be here anymore.” She knew so little about the internal battles I encountered every single day, but she learned. Just for me.
I’ve gotten better. I’m not ‘fixed,’ but I’m better. I’m continuing to get better every day.
Yes, I am crying. However, I figured a personal testimony would help you realize you are not alone. Although it may seem cliche, you’re never alone. I can’t promise you when but I can promise you that you will be okay. You won’t wake up tomorrow and feel instantly cured of this dark mental entrapment, or even the next day. It will worsen before it gets better, another cliche I know; however, it’s the truth. Your mind will continue to test your limits, so far until you convince yourself that this is it, this is the end, but it won’t be. I know it may feel comforting, sadness has become your new happiness, and it’s comforting. You don’t wanna leave but trust me; this is not where you want to stay.
It takes baby steps, the road to recovery is long, but there’s a finish line ahead. By doing small things such as to:
Remind yourself that you’re enough.
Tell yourself when you wake up, in the middle of the day, and even when you go to bed. You’re enough today, tomorrow, and every day after that.
Take a walk outside.
I know you’re getting tired of me throwing these cliches around, but I swear, a little bit of fresh air or sunlight makes the biggest difference. Just try it once, even if it’s to get the mail.
Make up your bed.
Right now, it’s probably a mess, go ahead and look at it. There’s probably water bottles and pizza rolls tangled in those sheets; make your bed. Making your bed to start the day creates a feeling of accomplishment and is a reminder that you’re in control of your day.
Open your curtains!
Your room probably smells weird from lying in the dark all day, so open your curtain or even your windows! Even if it isn’t sunny, the light from outside will go a long way in increasing your mood a few notches.
Sit outside for a few minutes.
Take this time to get more fresh air (I cannot stress how important fresh air is when you’re fighting demons) and to recenter. Talk to yourself aloud, write down how you’re feeling in the moment, or simply absorb everything around you. What can you see, hear, touch, and smell? I think this is the most helpful.
Depression doesn’t pick and choose who it wants to overcome. It can affect anyone, regardless of age, race, or religion. It’s okay to be depressed sometimes, but you can’t lose sight of who you are underneath it all. Depression is an issue many teens and adults don’t know how to talk about to others. If you ever feel down or just not yourself, don’t be afraid to seek help from someone you trust. At the end of the day, we are all human, and we can impact each other. You are never alone.
National Suicide Hotline:
Substance Abuse & Mental Health Helpline: