Let’s Talk About Being SAD

SAD = Seasonal Affective Disorder

For those of you who hate winters, I’m with you all the way. It’s too cold, your skin dries out, and the light fades away too quickly. Another reason I dread the dark days is this thing called Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD. It’s when you want to sleep a lot and don’t know how to get energized no matter what. I have felt the effects of SAD for a few years now, and I don’t like it one bit.

Apparently women are four times as likely to be diagnosed with SAD. I also have a family history of bipolar disorder, so that just increases my likelihood for depression and other types of mental illness. I don’t need a diagnosis to know my feelings are valid. Plus that would just make me feel like I had a real problem, a “condition” that needs to be medicated. I might not even have the full on disorder, just a slight version of it, and that’s ok too. I would rather find ways of coping with my mental state myself than go to the hospital where they tell me what I already know or put me on antidepressants.

The one thing I’ve tried this year is taking Vitamin D supplements because I feel like the main issue I have with winter is not getting enough sunlight. I literally feel charged when I get some sun on my body, and that may be because I can’t produce enough of it on my own to feel good on a regular basis when the sun’s not around. There are other imbalances that can lead to a person having SAD, but I’m testing this theory about myself, and it’s working pretty well.

I’ve gotten better about paying mind to my mental health in the past few years. I’ve overcome some crippling anxiety and self-doubt and learned to appreciate the things about myself that make me more me. These days I feel generally comfortable with myself, but I know I could dig deeper into my soul again and get to know myself how I used to. Just be really in tune with how things affect me inside.

The reason I’ve spent little time lately listening to my inner music is that things have been pretty ok. I think it’s easy for me to just keep grinding when I have something to do, and I end up not tuning into my feelings much. I used to journal more often and set time aside to unwind and sharpen the saw. I haven’t taken time for myself because I don’t feel like I need it. But things did get pretty bad for a second there, and that episode alerted me to what may be really going on inside.

For most of my life I’ve decided that there’s nothing wrong with me because I just ignore the symptoms and tough it out. While it’s good to not let little things always get to you, I think I’ve been suppressing bigger things. Like the fact that I went most of my life without considering my likelihood for mental illness, with it’s strong prevalence in my family tree. I think I just didn’t want to appear weak, so I suppressed my inner thoughts and pretended I was perfectly fine.

No one is perfectly fine.

So this year I’ve taken some initiative and tried to combat the smothering weight of depression. Taking Vitamin D to give my body the correct levels of that hormone is one step in the right direction, but I know that keeping myself mentally healthy is a daily effort. One that I am ready to commit to, if doing so helps me feel like myself more of the time and lets me get on with my life and out of bed during the day.

I don’t need anything to hold me back, especially my own mind.

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