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.
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?