Random Musings, Well being

Seasonal Depression – SAD

Seasonal Depression

9/29/2022

I wrote in my article “September Blues” about issues I was dealing with to lessen the impact of the seasonal depression. Despite having dealt with some of the trauma triggers, I have had a tough week.

“Seasonal affective disorder, or SAD, is a type of depression. It happens during certain seasons of the year—most often fall or winter. It is thought that shorter days and less daylight may trigger a chemical change in the brain leading to symptoms of depression. Light therapy and antidepressants can help treat SAD.” – John Hopkins Medicine.org

“Symptoms include fatigue, depression, hopelessness, and social withdrawal.” – Mayo Clinic website

The weepiness is starting to occur and it is making me feel out of sorts this week.

I was in the middle of working on a beading project and listening to music. All of a sudden I was thinking about my daughter then my other kids. I do not know why it affected me so greatly. I started quietly sobbing as I sat there feeling so overwhelmed. It was my son’s day off of work so he was asleep in the room next door. He never heard it.

It took a few minutes to regain my composure but I was feeling okay afterwards.

A little while later, as I continued to try and beadwork, a song came up on my playlist and I started crying again. I do not know why the song triggered more crying and I was getting mad at myself.

Later that morning, I was watching an episode of “Reservation Dogs” on Hulu, a certain scene in the episode triggered another bout of crying. I was all out of sorts by then.

My son was awake and heard me, gave me a big hug, and told me it would be okay. He suggested we go and get some food. Then drive around for a little while just to get out of the house. That helped my mood tremendously.

Afterwards, I came back home and took a long nap. My online person called and we talked, then I made the mistake of telling him what happened, and started crying again. He talked me through everything, having me take in deep breaths, and I finally stopped. He was concerned and it upset him as well. I kept reassuring him that I was fine. Then I explained the seasonal depression issues that I go through every year. He just wants me to be happy. I wish it were just that easy but it never is.

I am getting sleepy earlier in the evenings and trying hard to stay awake in order to stick to a sleep schedule but it is not working at the moment.

This type of depression coupled with the already major depressive disorder and anxiety causes temporary changes to my daily routine, it disrupts it. This will last from Fall through Winter into early Spring.

It just makes me tired. I sleep a lot but never feel rested. This lack of rest sometimes triggers sleep paralysis, night terrors, or lucid dreaming, which are the worst for me.

I tend to find certain songs or movies that help my mood. I will watch or listen to them on repeat, it almost becomes a compulsion

I will begin eating a lot more “comfort foods” which leads to a winter weight gain.

I will start withdrawing from things that I like to do or I will struggle to keep doing them.

I start feeling disorganized and routines become non-existent.

I will start crying easily over the littlest things, my emotions are all over the place.

It was not until I started the last group therapy two years ago that I spoke with my psychologist about these issues. I had previously mentioned it during one on one sessions but only briefly.

Later, I found out they diagnosed me with both the major depressive disorder and the seasonal affective disorder. The psychologist was the one that suggested a weighted blanket and a Happy Light.

The Happy Light has worked well along with being put back on Vitamin D supplements. I have to remember to wear lots of sunscreen if I go out while taking the supplements.

A few summers ago, I was doing this daily walking and the lack of sunscreen caused a terrible fever blister on my face, it looked really bad and took a couple of weeks to clear.

My oldest daughter was genuinely concerned that I did not know that a fever blister could be caused by too much sun exposure. I had to look it up and had no idea, I have only ever gotten them when I was sick or running a fever.

I bought a weighted blanket and had issues the first time I tried to use it. It caused a panic attack due to having the weight on me. It was related to previous trauma and my body instinctively reacted to try and protect itself. It was that fight or flight feeling.

The biggest issue was that I was also still in the recovery process from the shoulder surgery. I did not have full motion of my arm preventing me from pushing the blanket off. That made me panic more.

My son had to pull it off of me because I could not lift it. I started to hyperventilate and get dizzy, so I had to take lots of deep breaths to calm down. I eventually was able to sleep with it but only across my legs and not any higher.

If someone is reading all of this, they are thinking “Wow! She has some serious issues going on.”  I thought the same thing just reading my own writing.

It is not particularly bad and I have had these issues most of my life. I am still learning the best ways to deal with the seasonal depression.

Eating better, small meals throughout the day curbs the “hunger” for carbs, salty and sweet things or the comfort food. Keeping fruit, nuts, and seeds on hand is a suitable alternative instead of snack foods.

Exercise helps calm the thoughts down and helps the body rest.

Taking short naps of less than thirty minutes helps with the sleepiness during the day and cutting back on caffeine helps.

Having more quiet time in the evening provides a calming environment to promote better sleep.

In my previous Active Duty career, I worked on a flightline as a weather observer, and now have tinnitus. Having an oscillating fan by my bedside helps provide white noise to drown out the constant ringing.

These are just some of the tactics that I use to manage the seasonal depression.

I have had some of these issues for as long as I can remember even as a kid. I am not a big proponent of anti-depressants so I find ways to deal without being medicated.

I have good days and bad ones but in the end, I still try to be this positive person.

I still find the good things and things to be grateful for every day.

Hopefully, one day, I will not need to do all of this just to make it through the end of the year and into a new one.

Thank you so much for stopping by.

Have a wonderful week!

Peace, love, happiness, and good vibes, always.

Suzanne