What happens when I’m SAD

Whilst everyone around me is excitedly changing their Twitter names to include snowflakes and snowmen and my Instagram feed is full of ‘feet in autumn leaves’ pictures, a still, grey, cold haze settles over my being like a blanket that doesn’t provide any warmth. As soon as those clocks go back and the nights drawn in, I feel like I’m operating on only 60% Vix. SAD makes me sad.

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So for the uninitiated, what is SAD? It stands for ‘Seasonal Affective Disorder’ and is basically thought to mean that the lack of sunshine affects how our body produces hormones that balance our emotions. It’s also known as ‘winter depression’ as sufferers of SAD often find that it lifts come Spring time.

A lot of people claim to suffer from SAD, and to some extent I imagine a lot of people do. Pretty shit waking up for work when it’s dark and coming home when it’s dark isn’t it lads? But for me, SAD takes quite a hold on my life.

So how does SAD manifest in me? Let me walk you through a day I had last week because this day is pretty typical of a lot of days during this period.

My alarm went off at 6. I knew I had to get up, have a shower, wash my hair, put some make up on, make my lunch for work and set a blog post to go live. However that’s not what happened. I physically didn’t have the energy to leave my bed. I felt worthless and just like I couldn’t be bothered with life. I got up with enough time to wash, brush my teeth and put on clothes. I didn’t even brush my hair, because why? No-one cared what I looked like, least of all me.

Then I walked to the train station. Normally I pound those pavements listening to Little Mix and writing a blog post whilst scheduling tweets. Not that day. That day it felt like no matter how fast I walked, I wasn’t getting closer to the station. Everything went in slow motion. At the station I met a friend and we travelled to work together, and as we approached our stop for school, my body didn’t want to get out of the seat, it wanted to carry on travelling, and sitting, and not doing much else.

But we arrived at school. I have a to do list as long as my arm, but I had just about enough energy to sit at my desk and put up my slides for the lessons I’ve planned. Another friend walked in for a morning chat and could see something was wrong. Within seconds of trying to explain that I’m just fed up with life, I had burst into tears. I was trying to find reasons for why I was crying. Maybe I’m fed up with work. Maybe I’m feeling lonely. Maybe I’m thinking about my Mum, who’s birthday is coming up. But saying those reasons aloud didn’t register with the exact reason why I was crying. I just couldn’t pinpoint it. The only thing that seemed to make sense was that I was just finding life too hard.

Luckily, my job means I have to fake having energy and being happy for 6 hours a day because the children deserve that. But come break times I can barely be arsed to speak to people and find myself getting aggravated with the workplace jobsworths more so than usual. When the kids had gone, it’s supposed to be time to get on with all the other jobs I had to do, except my energy disappeared again. So I sat and marked some books and felt shit about my growing mountain of work.

I finally arrived home and just wanted to crawl into bed but I knew I wouldn’t sleep. So I sat on my sofa and didn’t move until bed time, ready for the day to repeat itself again.

The thing is, there is no logical reason for my moods at this time. Because logically – work and my blog are going well, I have brilliant friends, money, plans to look forward to, a New Look delivery coming and my favourite TV shows in my planner. Plus with all my walking lately, my ass has never looked better. I have all of these reasons, plus more to be happy. But for no reason at all, I’m just not.

When I was younger, before I knew about SAD, I thought I was bi-polar. One day I could be in the blackest hole and the next, bouncy and my usual self. My doctor just had to ask me one question, ‘Do you feel like this all year round or is it just the colder months?’, for me to realise that as soon as these months have passed, so have all of my negative feelings and emotions. Ok not all of them because I still go into a shit spiral if I mark my bright white trainers or if a blog post doesn’t get any retweets but you get what I mean.

Now I know that I suffer, I can try and regulate myself. When I’m feeling neglectful and lifeless, I tell myself it’s just my lack of energy, the world isn’t ending and I don’t hate myself and I force myself to do something productive. Whether all I can manage is a shower and to tidy my room or whether I can sit down and bash out some blog posts, it all helps me feel more positive. I also make sure I keep my diary filled with things I can’t get out of. During these months all I want to do is sleep and eat but I know too much of both of those things make me feel awful. So I push myself to say yes to things and to make plans that I can look forward to.

I’ve tried the natural light lampy thing and taking vitamin D tablets but neither help me all that much. The only thing that helps, is knowing that this will pass. And it will pass. Until then, I just need to look after myself and try extra hard to make myself happy.

Do any of you suffer? How do you combat it? Can you come to my house, stroke my hair and feed me Yum Yums, until it goes away?

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  1. Sarah
    November 10, 2016 / 8:23 am

    I too suffer from SAD. It’s horrible. At this time of year until around the end of March I feel like I’m in a cycle of doom. One minute everything is A OK, the next I feel like I’m shrouded in a heavy black blanket which makes everything look bleak and totally dismal. I take vitamin D3, try to eat fresh nourishing food when all i really crave is stodge and give myself a blast from the old SAD lamp but if I’m honest nothing seems to make me feel that much better. Yesterday was particularly bad for me. Oddly I do love this time of year, the cold, crisp weather, first snowfall and approaching festivities however this time of year clearly doesn’t love me back. It’s hard coming to terms with the fact that for around 6 months of the year all you want to do is hibernate. Sadly I don’t have any magic tips, i try to get out into the fresh air as much as possible, especially on those cold and crisp days where there’s lots of light. Eat well, keep taking the Vit D3 but don’t be afraid to just be either. Sometimes all you need is some quiet time with a good book, a cup of tea while bury yourself in a little blanket cocoon for a while.

    • vixmeldrew
      November 12, 2016 / 1:19 pm

      You’re completely right and I’m going to do a lot of these things. Take care x

  2. November 10, 2016 / 9:14 am

    SAD is the worst that’s why I always book a winter holiday, feeling so low for such a long period is horrible but you are right it will pass.

    • vixmeldrew
      November 12, 2016 / 1:18 pm

      YESSSS I NEED A HOLIDAY. Where do you go for the winter?

    • Ri
      December 7, 2016 / 5:42 am

      Come to Dubai, sunny all year round! I moved here about a month ago and my mood has improved no end!

  3. Madeleine
    November 10, 2016 / 10:06 am

    One of my closest friends has SAD. He uses a special blue light box and antidepressants (from the Dr ) to help him get through winter. I have year round depression and anxiety, life can be very hard when it kicks in. Just take every day as it comes and do your best. Just remember not to be too hard on yourself.

    • vixmeldrew
      November 12, 2016 / 1:18 pm

      Thank you! Definitely just trying to do things that make me happy.

  4. Romy
    November 10, 2016 / 11:05 am

    This sounds so much like me – I have days when I feel like I’ve sunk right into my mattress and can’t climb out, ones where I do make it out and spend 15 minutes staring at a shelf in Boots with no idea why I’m there and ones where everything’s fine until I have to explain something in a meeting and look like I don’t have a clue when my mind goes blank and won’t come back. For me, it’s mostly light boxes (one next to me now…) and amazing antidepressants (last time I ran out in January I had a meltdown at the Sainsbury’s self checkouts). 5HTP worked a little bit, maybe worth a try? I’ve written a bit more about it here – http://bit.ly/2fgDtyh – but nothing too groundbreaking I’m afraid!

    • vixmeldrew
      November 12, 2016 / 1:15 pm

      Thank you love, sounds so familiar. Will check it out x

  5. Penny
    November 10, 2016 / 11:49 am

    So refreshing to read this! I suffer really badly with SAD, I always feel like I just shut down for autumn and winter, only really switching myself back on towards the end of Spring when the sky is blue and the air around me is warmer.

    It’s been the same as this for years – I wake up and feel a genuine wash of rage at the fact it’s dark and cold.

    This year I’ve decided to try and get a hold of it, so I’m doing the same as you – planning fun things, trying to look for the good in the cold, wet, grey skies (the early morning sun is nice and casts amazing shadows for outdoors photos, something I’ve never noticed before).

    SAD is a pain in the arse, but this year I’m doing everything in my power to try and focus on the positives around me to trick my brain into not being so bloody miserable all the time.

    PS You’ve just reminded me I need to restock my Vitamin D tablets as I’m running low, so cheers for that!

    • vixmeldrew
      November 12, 2016 / 1:14 pm

      If i had the money/time I’d genuinely love to run a girls/bloggers who have SAD, weekend away somewhere hot as fuck just to give us all something! Yep get those tablets girl. Thanks for commenting x

  6. Emily-May
    November 10, 2016 / 2:30 pm

    You know what? This was such a good post to read. I’ve heard about SAD, seen people talk about it. But I’ve never read anything that gives you an understanding of how much it can effect someone. So thank you Vix.
    If I could bake, I’d make you the best cake ever to perk up your evening. But I’m shit at baking!

    Emily-May xo

    • vixmeldrew
      November 12, 2016 / 1:13 pm

      That is SO cute. I think sometimes people still write about depression in a flowery way because they don’t want to be too negative but sometimes people need to hear how it actually is. Thanks love, I prefer a nice comment to a cake any way. Ha!

  7. Nia
    November 10, 2016 / 8:48 pm

    I struggled so much with the winter morbs when I was a teacher. In a way it’s great because you do get to go outside and see the light of day at break and lunch, but I struggled with tacking on a cheery face for the kids – especially when they had their monster-faces on (Wet Playtime – argh!!!!!).

    • vixmeldrew
      November 12, 2016 / 12:56 pm

      I’m OK with the cheery faces but find I never get a break/lunch because of dealing with behaviour OR just wanting to sit in the staffroom and not moving until the bell goes again. I should try and get out there more. Thanks x

  8. Naomi
    November 11, 2016 / 4:12 am

    Oh hun, I’ m so sorry you suffer so badly with this!
    I have depression all year around, but I’m particularly affected by SAD sometimes.
    I know the feeling of not wanting to get up, but I do it because…well, I’ve got to.
    Drinking tea makes me happy, and wearing clothes that make me feel comfortable and happy. I like to write and inspire myself, to do something that will trick me into thinking I’m super positive!
    If you ever want to talk about it, just hit me up on Twitter xx

    • vixmeldrew
      November 12, 2016 / 12:55 pm

      You’re so right, we have to do stuff that makes us happy and that we feel comfortable doing. Thank you!

  9. November 11, 2016 / 8:24 am

    Hey Vix,

    I can relate to this so much. But for me, I seem to get these feelings most of the year round. I would class myself as depressed, but I’m not treated for it. I come home of an evening with all these great plans in my head to study, write a really sassy blog post and take my make up off before bed. 98% of the time that doesn’t happen and I almost feel physically and mentally paralyzed. Then, because I haven’t achieved all the things I wanted to, cue the feelings of failure and self-loathing.

    I always think I’m going to enjoy winter; the snuggly new jumpers, sexy coffee’s from Starbucks, festivities, ETC. But as soon as the dark evening’s roll in, it’s like living ground hog day. Wake up, it’s dark. Go to work. Come home, it’s dark. No inspiring sun sets, no sitting out in the garden with a G&T, just hiding under the duvet waiting for the next day to hit you in the face like a misdirected shit.

    Also, I think the knowledge that the year is drawing to a close kind of makes me look back (subconsciously) on the past few months and if it hasn’t been blow-my-mind-fantastic, I look back and think “well what the fuck did I achieve”?, and it makes me think maybe the best times of year are New Year when you have the whole year ahead, and summer when everything is basically just sun, sea and gin.

    Christ I divert, anyway, the point I’m attempting to make is better times are ahead. Whether that’s tomorrow, when the sun comes out, new year or next summer. And even if it doesn’t feel like it, it helps to believe it, just a bit.
    We’re strong confident women with some serious responsibilities to the world. We have to come back fighting, head held high, ready to own our shizzle.

    I hope today is a good day.

    Amy xx

    P.S I love your new blog design and the posts are, as ever, fantastic.

    • vixmeldrew
      November 12, 2016 / 12:51 pm

      You’re so right love, these next months are a vicious circle of wanting to be better, not physically able to be and then hating yourself for it. You’re also right about how we’re strong, confident women and we will be OK. Hit me up via DM/email if you ever need to chat and thanks for your kind words.

  10. November 11, 2016 / 10:14 am

    I think the problem is that when we do need to relax and refuel we often beat ourselves up about it or feel guilty. I have suffered with SAD for 10 years now and by sheer process of elimination I have come up with a method that works for me to combat it, a 50/50 approach of looking after myself and resting and inspiring my tired brain with trips and days out on the days where I feel up to leaving the house at all. The days where my energy levels are low I treat as a special days, pamper days. Rather than moping about dwelling on what I am missing out on and time I am wasting being “sad” I concentrate on making the most of having down-time, refuelling, reading A LOT, catching up on sleep and with films and Tv programmes I’ve missed, eating lots of snacks and pampering myself with facemasks and bubblebaths. Then on the days where I feel ok enough to venture out I make sure I visit places that inspire me, national trust houses, dinner with friends, museums, a bit of shopping etc… Happy memories that I can carry around all week when times are tough. Because I know my “good days” are fewer during this time of year I try really hard to make them count but don’t punish myself for my bad days. Ultimately I think the bets thing you can do for SAD is to be kind to yourself, accept that some days are harder than others and harder for you than most people who don’t suffer from SAD. Look after yourself, celebrate small victories, rest when you need to and don’t feel guilty for doing so and don’t forget that although it does feel really very lonely to suffer with SAD that you aren’t alone at all <3

    • vixmeldrew
      November 12, 2016 / 12:49 pm

      Great advice Mills. Because of my job, I have to spend M-F working 6-6 and can never take a day off. Being a teacher the hassle and guilt of taking a day often makes it worse. Which means I live for the weekends. I try to make it that one day I have a productive/self care day and the other, I get out and do stuff. Thanks gorge xx

  11. Sophie
    November 11, 2016 / 10:33 am

    This is a brilliant post and something that needs more discussion, especially amongst young people. Yes, I suffer from SAD and this year I’ve had to quit my job and cancel a lot of plans because I couldn’t face it. It’s awful but, as you say, what gets you feeling better is knowing it’s just chemicals and it’s not you. Distancing yourself from your emotions is amazingly helpful. Mediation, walking (oh, all the walking), animals and home comforts.

    • vixmeldrew
      November 12, 2016 / 12:47 pm

      Yep been there with the job quitting! You always regret it when the haze lifts. Need to go for a walk today. Thanks love!

  12. dubliner in deutschland
    November 11, 2016 / 4:09 pm

    I think I suffer from SAD a bit too. I normally can survive until Christmas but find January and February really depressing months! I just hate when the days are so short and dark. Staying in and binge watching shows and eating chocolate helps a bit.

    • vixmeldrew
      November 12, 2016 / 12:44 pm

      I feel like November is the worst for me but next Jan/Feb are going to be tough. I totally agree about TV/Chocolate – instant mood lifters. Thanks for commenting!

  13. November 12, 2016 / 2:58 pm

    This all sounds so horrible šŸ™ atleast like you say you do know that it will pass sometime soon.

    Mel ★ http://www.meleaglestone.co.uk

  14. Mia
    November 12, 2016 / 5:33 pm

    I thought I was bipolar, until I realized it mostly happens in October and February. October is the worst one, and it gets better for a while, before I get bad again in February. I just feel so down and unproductive all of the time, constantly reads too much into other peoples actions and beat myself down. This October was particularly awful. I broke down in front of my lecturer on a crowded train station. Luckily he was really sweet about it and we went to a coffee shop as we both lived near the same station.

    The best way for me to cope with it is just to surround myself with the right people and go to work/study hard etc. In between I just try to do things I like. It all depends on that day’s mood, but everything from binge watching my favorite movies, going for walks around the city or having a coffee at my favorite coffee shop really helps.

  15. Leanne
    November 13, 2016 / 12:17 pm

    This is pretty much exactly how I felt for the last two months when I didn’t have a job. I’d WANT to do those things on my to do list but I just didn’t have the energy it’s awful, I’m glad that you know you’ll get through to the other side though – that’s the most important thing, hope x

  16. Sophia
    November 13, 2016 / 12:49 pm

    Totally feel you on every point! That’s one reason I do love teaching because you kind of have to fake it til you make if your mood’s not quite there and they do always put a smile on my face by the end of the day. I do sometime wish I had a job where I didn’t have to be so ta dah! all the time because you can never just sit quietly at a desk and let it pass!

    Basically love this post and your blog, we just gotta keep going!

    Sending some fellow teacher tough vibes!
    Sophia x

  17. Sara
    November 21, 2016 / 2:33 pm

    I can’t tell if this is something that happens me at this time of year, or whether It is just my good old brain being in a slump. I just feel 100% of the time like I can’t be arsed doing anything other than lie in bed watching snapchats, which make me feel worse cause everyone else looks to be having a ball of a time. Ugh Social Media, feck off!

    I do have mild depression which I already am on medication for, but this time of the year is so hard to motivate myself to do anything, whether that be brush my hair like you said or leave the house in general. I always find getting out for a walk with the dog to raise my mood, but getting out itself can be a god awful hard thing to begin to do. #ViciousCycle! My blog has also gone down the shitter because 1. Natural light where are ya? and 2. Effort! I find myself sighing a lot. UGGGGGGGGH!

    I don’t have any magical cure, Sorry. Just know I’m with ya on this one.

  18. Vicky
    December 5, 2016 / 7:15 pm

    This post really spoke to me, particularly the bit about not physically having enough energy to get out of bed. There are days in the winter months where I seriously consider whether being too tired is a valid reason to call in sick to work. I always make it in the end but like you say it’s a mad rush to do the bare minimum to leave when actually you had so much planned to do in the morning.

    I have one of the alarm clocks that lights up like a sunrise and I don’t find it helps that much either. I’m trying to get in a good routine but failing miserably at the moment.