When the daylight starts decreasing, so does my energy. I am a reverse vampire, without the sun light I feel like I'm dying. I suffer from what is commonly known as seasonal depression, and it's a struggle every year.
Last fall/winter was intense and I felt like I was in an awful movie that wouldn’t end. Everyday I struggled to get out of bed and some days I didn’t. I felt like I couldn't force myself to eat, I couldn’t force myself to shower, and I couldn't stop crying.
My response to stress has never been fight or flight, it has always been freezing. I was so overwhelmed and felt so helpless that I did nothing. I just slept all day and all night. I called in sick to work with mysterious stomach bugs and didn’t care about the consequences.
I am very fortunate to have a husband that only wants to support and love me. He bought me soup and forced me to eat it. He took me on car rides to try to get me out of the house. He took care of the dog and picked up all the slack while was just lying in bed all day. All that love and support was great but it made me feel even more guilty. And the guiltier I felt the more I would wallow in my depression. It was a vicious cycle.
I survived the winter. But I don’t want to just survive anymore. I just want the winter to be a wonderland again like when I was kid. I started going to therapy in the spring. Can you say life changing? Now I understand what I am dealing with and have a plan to cope with it.
First, I know my warning signs now. Feeling depressed almost every day, losing interest in activities I love, having no energy, having problems sleeping, feeling hopeless, changes in my eating habits, easily agitated, too much sleep.
All of those warning signs I have already starting experiencing this fall but I haven't let them get the best of me. I have been actively fighting them.
My first line of defense is going to therapy, I go twice a month. I wasn’t going before because I didn’t have insurance, but I found someone with a sliding scale that I would work with my budget. I cannot express enough how grateful I am to have found a therapist I can connect with. I trust her and can be completely honest about my struggles.
The biggest source of my seasonal struggle is lack of sunlight. I need the hormones and vitamin D sunlight provides. I have to force myself to spend time outside, even when it’s cold, so I can get what I need.
*Side note I’m also looking into buying a sunlamp/ light therapy box. If you have one let me know how its working for you.
What is also working nicely for me is CBD oil. I drink the water-soluble kind twice a day. It’s hard for me to tell you how it is helping my mood because I didn’t document how I was feeling daily without it. But I do feel like it's helping. It's defiantly helping me fall asleep easier. It was taking me 2 hours to fall asleep and now it's about an hour from the time I drink the CBD oil.
I am talking to my therapist about starting an anti-depressant. If my problem is a chemical imbalance, I need to start taking medicine to balance it. I just wanted to try more natural options like CBD oil before I go back to a pill.
I also have to be social. Which is 110% opposite of just making a nest of blankets in my living room and never leaving. It sounds silly but this is the hardest part for me. I’m planning a lot of fun activities and dates this winter. This is important for me to stick to because depression takes away the desire to do the things I enjoy.
"put pants on, leave the house and have fun with friends."- Me giving myself stern lecture in the mirror all winter long.
Lastly, I’m working on my mind- body connection. I meditate every morning for about 10 mins, I balance my chakras with Reiki, and I have been journaling. I’m also scheduling more massages for myself. I need that safe nurturing touch more often when I’m feeling depressed. Massage therapy really has no negatives for me, everything feels better after a massage.
I’m working very hard this year to not let seasonal depression consume me. It's encouraging to feel like I have control over it this time around. I am going to have a good winter this year, I just know it. If you can relate to my experience, go see a doctor. Create a treatment plan with your health care professional and stick to it. We don’t have to just survive the winter, we can enjoy it.