It’s Here and I’m Getting Help – Seasonal Affective Disorder and Psychiatry

My last post (which it has been such a long time since) discussed my long standing struggle with what I believe is seasonal affective disorder (SAD). It has now starting affecting me, as I expected. The days are darker and now I find myself drawn to staying in bed, sleeping much longer, neglecting my readings, eating out of boredom and sadness, and feeling the urge to break out in tears every few hours. My emotions are becoming harder to control; I’m irritable, cantankerous, and emotional.

I realized how bad it had gotten after leaving my doctor’s appointment earlier this month, I sat in a Tim Horton’s forcing back tears as I contemplated sitting the four hour transit ride home. I had just gotten my referral for a diagnostic appointment that I have to schedule and a referral to meet with Dr. Tim Bilkey to deal with an ongoing struggle with focus and memory retention (I will be discussing this in a later post). I should have been happy, if not at least relieved. But I kept thinking over and over how my mum hadn’t woken me up to say goodbye, how I felt so guilty for not visiting more, how I missed my mom and my dog and even my brother a bit, and how I couldn’t go home yet. Even writing this post I’m fighting back tears. Maybe I’m just not letting myself feel things as I should be, maybe I just need a good cry, or maybe I need a distraction. But I’m at the point where I can tell that even though I can get up, go to work, and go to school, I’m not okay. I have the drive, but I’m not happy, at least not how one should be.

My anxiety is mounting and I feel myself sinking into the pattern of darkness and gloom. But luckily, within the next four days I will know when my psychiatric appointment will be and when I have it, I will have a professional opinion of what I have going on and what I should do. I’m tired of letting my grades slip and losing my temper and fighting back tears every day for four months. I want to be better and do better. Many people may tell me how I’m doing well because I am at least going to work and school. But how well can I be doing if I’m sleeping 9-12 hours a day and only going to work and school out of an anxious duty? I hope that by explaining this, someone may read this and see the correlation within themselves; and to that person who may be searching for answers, they are out there, I hope you are alright and coping as well.

I’m trying to get back into biweekly or monthly posting now that term one is over, but sometimes my stress and anxiety overwhelms me and I let it slip by. Once I have my psychiatric appointment I will give my thoughts. Til then, good luck and much love to you all.

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Fight Holiday Time Depression

We are socialized to believe that this time of the year is supposed to be the happiest – filled with food, family, cheer and even some relaxing time off. So why is it that the National Institute of Health reports that there is often a rise in depression, and although not the highest, but higher reports of suicide? Could it be the shorter days and darkening skies at 4pm? Is it the rise in SAD? (Seasonal Affective Disorder) These may contribute, but are not the root of the problem.

Often, this time of year comes with immense stress. Students are approaching final assignments and exams, work becomes busier and stress builds up. So what is it that really triggers Christmas blues?

  • Financial stress of gift giving
  • Increase in social events and family gatherings
  • Loneliness
    • This may be based on the loss of a loved one or loss of a job

So what should you do if you’re experiencing an increase in depression?

First, you should seek help from a qualified mental health practitioner, and if that seems overwhelming you can always confide in a trusted friend or family member who will help you find the proper resources you need.

  • Focus on the positive things in your life, try not to dwell on what you don’t have
  • Set boundaries, especially regarding your finances – don’t create unnecessary stress for yourself
    • Gift giving can be personal and budget friendly
  • If you are religious, attend respective events for your church or organization
  • Keep yourself busy – grab coffee with friends or relax by yourself with a good book
  • Exercise
  • Journal about your holiday blues
  • If old traditions are no longer feasible, make new ones
  • Volunteer your time to help organizations that provide assistance at Christmas time

There are many ways you can fight the holiday blues, but don’t forget that seeking help may be exactly what you need, it may help you understand an underlying condition.

 

 

Seasonal Affective Disorder

Ever since the time change a few weeks ago, I have been finding it so hard to stay awake and find motivation to do things throughout the day. All of a sudden I look out my window at 5:30 expecting to see a beautiful blue sky, but instead just being faced with darkness. It may not be that big of a deal to some people, but as someone with SAD the darkness outside seems to dictate the way I feel on the inside. I find myself constantly lying in bed under the covers with no hope or motivation to keep going, which is a totally normal thing for me to do during this time of the year.

For those of you that aren’t quite sure what SAD is; it is a mood disorder in which people have normal mental health throughout most of the year, but have an onset of depression around the same time each year. For most people, it is during the winter months. I have never really been one to be excited for Christmas, and I always wondered why, because everyone else seemed to love it. Along with the winter months, everyone would be so excited to get out and build snowmen or go tobogganing and I would just be inside dreading the fact that the next few months would only contain the feeling of sadness and emptiness. Then I heard about SAD and it all made sense to me.

It is extremely difficult to force myself to be excited for the holidays, or for finals to be over, or anything for that matter when I’m feeling like this. Which is especially difficult when everyone around me is in what seems to be like a state of pure joy for the upcoming holidays. I hate feeling like this. So this year, I’ve been doing my best to maintain a normal sleeping pattern and forcing myself to not take naps during the day time in the hope that maybe it will help me get into a positive state of mind. I can’t wait for the day when there is a general understanding of what SAD is and how it affects so many people, just so that my feelings during this time of the year are understood.

Here It Comes – My Struggle with Seasonal Affective Disorder

As the days grow darker and the nights get longer, I find myself caught in this tug-of-war of emotion. I love the dark, the night, the fall and pre-winter seasons for their atmosphere and weather. But once November and December is upon us, I feel it creep in. It can’t be stopped and it can’t really be contained, it’s a slow rolling wave that comes toward me slowly and crashes over me like a hard hand. Here it comes, my seasonal depression.

I feel the exhaustion, the fatigue, the “Why get out of bed today?”, the sadness, the need to curl up and never move. The anxiety of “I can’t miss school today!” and the depressing thought of “I just want to sleep forever.” The only thing to truly get me out of bed is work, and even then I only wish I could stay home. I don’t want to interact with anyone, I don’t want to go outside, I don’t want to exist in any capacity than sleeping and the Internet. My grades drop, I stop studying, assignments are left until late, I slack off at work and sleep days away. I feel this as the snow falls, the Christmas lights go up and the trees come down, nothing becomes light again until April or May, when school is done and the winter has gone.

I never understood what this was; why I hated Christmas time outside of Christmas day, why I never wanted to leave my house, why my body hated getting up in the morning. Was it the cold? Was it the snow? Was it the unhappy memories of fights over Christmas with my family? Or was it my already existing depression becoming worse with the lack of sunlight?

My doctor knows this occurs to me. Or at least, he does but not the full extent. I haven’t been formally diagnosed with depression or seasonal affective disorder. I find myself pushing myself to suck it up, like I always do. I tell myself I have no valid diagnosis, so I shouldn’t be allowing this to happen to myself. But I don’t allow it. I’ve mentally taught myself that because I lack a diagnosis, I don’t have the right to feel the way I do. But when your family and friends notice how starkly different you behave during the summer compared to the winter, when they ask you if you are okay and if you are alright all winter and comment on your change in the spring. Is it so wrong to think something else is here?

I look forward to the day I can sit down with a psychiatrist and explain all these feelings I endure when the days are dark and cold. I hope to one day hear that I was right and it is alright to know yourself. While others may take offense to my presumptions, I know me; and I know that winter is possibly the hardest time of year for me mentally.

Good luck and much love.