Well hello world. It feels like a lifetime since we have spoken. I have been busy as I am sure you have with life and everything else that comes along with it.
I hope you are well and that you have been doing well during these times.
We are coming up on the holidays and I really wanted to share something with you. I hope that the information I share will help you during the trying times as it has helped me regain control of my life and refocus on myself.
Holidays are hard and even harder now. So many humans have lost their financial stability, health and even their life. Life has not been fair and it has not been easy. It has been hard, painful, and confusing from every angle of existence.
I want to share with you that even though it feels hopeless, impossible, and even terribly painful, there is hope because we still exist. Hope is not anywhere else but within us and I want you to look inside you, see your strength, and decide to take the actions, no matter how small towards your happiness.
I want to share with you how I work through seasonal depression that I was not aware of until I began the process of documenting my actions. Literally writing down what it is I do everyday, all day, and if need be, how it was accomplished.
I write my list of accomplishments and I can tell you from this past months experience that it does help in strengthening the self within when it is lost, confused, unable to find its way and feeling every ounce of emotion at once. It allows you to have a guide.
What is seasonal depression and what are the symptoms to look out for?
Season depression is called Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), a mood disorder characterized by depression that occurs at the same time every year. It is very common and usually self-diagnosable but professional evaluation is recommended due to other potential underlining mental and emotional issues. It usually starts in the fall and can last into spring months.
Mood: anxiety, apathy, general discontent, loneliness, loss of interest, mood swings, sadness, negative and harmful thoughts.
Sleep: excessive sleepiness, insomnia, or sleep deprivation
Body: appetite changes such as cravings for carbs and sugars, fatigue and heavy limbs, physical pain.
Behavioral: irritability or social isolation, lack of concentration and focus in everyday actions
Researchers do not know what the cause is of SAD, but have found the following to be contributing factors:
Lack of sunlight
Biological clock change
Brain chemical imbalance
Vitamin D deficiency
Let me share my absence this past month. I finished strong in September, walked in strong and motivated into October. The last clear, controlled, and completely aware accounted day I had was October 11th. After that, I remember pain, tiredness, sadness, hopelessness.
Weather affects my chronic illness, fibromyalgia and rheumatoid arthritis, it can be extremely painful and difficult to physically move. It is emotionally and mentally draining to fight the pain, function as best as possible, and fight against the demons creeping in.
By the twelfth of October, I was dissociated from reality and only functioned on auto-pilot. I did the bare minimum required to survive and then I slept. I slept day and night. The pain was tolerable for a little bit until it wasn’t. The defense against the guilty, shameful, and hopeless thoughts was strong until it wasn’t. I neglected my home, my work and more importantly, myself.
I ate all the terrible and aggravating things to my body because I did not care to take the time to do what was required to keep it all at bay. My lack of organization and routine began to induce my OCD and I began to start feeling even worse. Dirty. It was messy. Mess is stress to me. Messy is stressy rang loudly across my mind. So I did the bare minimum but I was not satisfied. I recognized I was ok with the bare minimum and then I slept. I did not speak to humans that did not live with me and even then it was bare minimum. I spoke and responded when it was necessary.
I had amazing things happen durning the month as well. I was blessed with so much fabric for my Checkmate project to start the costumes and it was so overwhelming it took me a few days to even process the blessing. It brought me joy but only for a short time. Then I thought, how undeserving I was of it all and how I have done nothing in my life to have earned that, how I have been lacking because I have not reached all the goals I had set forth. How terrible I am when I cannot cook a meal, do the laundry or even have the energy to talk to my child. How sad I feel when he is taking care of me instead of me taking care of him. Those are the moments all control is gone, all defense is a down, every trick in the book I have learned is forgotten and I am feeling. I used to completely shut down and forget all.
The slogan was “I was physically broken, emotionally damaged, spiritually shadowed, and mentally too stupid. Worthless and useless to exist.” Yup, I used to say that to myself all the time. None of it is true. I know that but that does not stop the thought from coming because it was years in the making and it will be years in unmaking of the slogan. Reformatting the narrative of the self. That slogan ran across and I paused it, gaining clarity for the first time in a while. I remembered, I was not broken in any shape or form. Damaged I sure was and it ok because a lot has happened in my life. I know my spirit and it can repel all shadows because it has always been the light it needed to guide me. Hope. And HELL NO, I was not too stupid. That is the words of another human who imprinted themselves in my mind like a tattoo, and I am scrubbing out. Those words were said to me 16 years ago and damn do they still hold power at times. I have felt that my whole life, in so many ways, due to my language barriers, and because I really thought I was. It turns out, I am not, I have conditions and life experiences that have affected my thought and functional processing. I view and process information differently and require specific ways of receiving and communicating with society on a daily basis. All I need was color 16 years ago to solve the problem, but their impatience, lack of understanding, and self awareness forced the words “You’re too stupid for this class.” So stupid I dropped out of collage. I changed my whole narrative. It is important to recognize that seasonal depression is a form of depression but is depression none the less. Of course different characteristics will separate it into disorders, but if left unchecked it will become a deep depression. Talk to your doctor or if you don’t have one, reach out to a friend, another human whom you can connect with just enough to keep you in this reality of existence until you start to regain control.
While I decided to check out this last month, isolate myself from the world and believe just for a while I could not do it anymore, by simply taking one daily action to do something I was ok with, I found my way back to my own motivation and inspiration for succeeding in all actions of my existence. I am not cured, over it, nor am I at my full strength, but I am on my way back. I’ll take that! I will get excited about my own happiness!
Here is more information on SAD and how you can find ways to fight back from within.
How common is SAD and who does it affect?
5% of adults in the US experience SAD
75% more women than men affected
10% to 20% of Americans get milder form of winter blues
Higher at risk if:
Have another mood disorder such as major depressive disorder or bipolar
Have family experience of mental health disorders
Other mental health conditions such as:
As someone who has plenty of experience of mental health disorders and conditions, traumas and chronic illness, I am a great candidate for SAD. I learned that getting control of my ADHD is key in beating the fight against SAD. Regaining focus and concentration on things that I know make me feel good, like showers and skin care. I love that. Stretching my body, especially when it hurts. Taking care of my laundry. That is one way I have found I find my way back by making sure that my family has clothes on their back. I start taking care of the basic needs of my survival until I can begin to live again freely.
What are the treatments and how can you fight back?
Treatments of SAD:
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) - proven to be most effective type of any treatment approach.
Spending time outside
Write down your accomplishments, feelings, thoughts using as much detail as you can. Date, time, where and when
Spend time outside even if it is rainy or cloudy, open the door or window and breathe fresh air.
Eat well by stocking up on fruits and veggies on your plate. Brighten up what you are taking inside your body.
Exercise even if you do not want to. Just stretching is enough to stimulate you to action.
See friends or reach out to one human you can talk to and tell them your state of being. Ask them to help you keep accountable by checking in and requiring you to check back in.
Seek professional help in your community and ask about CBT, cognitive behavioral therapy, in which the treatment involves changing thinking and behavioral patterns. It is a form of treatment I have found the most success with because I had to change the way I thought and behaved before any changes in my life could truly occur. I had to let go and face fears I did not know nor want to know about. I used art therapy and found my way of expressing my emotions. This is an individualized therapy and commitment to the self to be accountable for the change that is sought.
Three years ago, I began tracking my moods, using CBT as my main form of therapy to help guide me. I was not serious until Covid hit and I was forced to be accountable and responsible for my actions completely alone. I had nothing else to attribute my state of being because I could not blame it on I work too much, or outside stressors because the world had stopped.
I began writing down my daily accomplishments and while doing that I would notate how my state of being was that day.
I began tracking when I was dissociating and when I was allowing depression to hit me hard. I am still not great at it, as this last month has proved, but I can see the patterns and I can work harder to combat them. Plan better for the next time that this will happen. It may happen next week, but I know I am capable of working through it because the proof was in the writing. I may not remember anything about the month, but because I created a necessary habit, writing my accomplishments down, I auto pilot completed the most important accomplishment for myself. I accounted for my actions of the time I cannot remember.
It is such a rewarding moment to know I was not in as bad of a shape as I felt and thought.
As a reminder I am not a medical professional. Please reach out to appropriate professionals within your community for individualized help. If you need immediate assistance call 911, or if you are having suicidal thoughts please call the National Suicide Hotline - 1-800-273-8255.
I am sharing my experience of recovering from trauma and many other aliments. My goal and hope is you find some benefit from this information that will help better your daily functions.
Thank you for following my growing journey. Please share this article if you feel it will be beneficial to others. Let us all come together and create a safe space for the conversation we all want to have. The conversation of validation of our existence.
Until next time,