Today’s post is inspired by the ENDLESS row of soupy, mucky, cloudy days we’ve been having and DGGYST’s post encouraging us all to get our shit together and prepare for winter.
The days have been getting shorter and shorter and then, because we’re one of the states still functioning like a farming society, we set our clocks back an hour. So now I truly feel like I am living in darkness. And since then, I’ve just been feeling like this:
Not just physically but mentally. I am flat out of steam and I feel like everything around me is just…heavy.
It’s interesting, because this gif was titled “Lazy Polar Bear.” I hate that word – lazy. Yes, some people are lazy. But depression is often mislabled as laziness.
If you’ve started to feel “lazy” as the days are getting shorter, then maybe you’re experiencing Seasonal Affective Disorder.
SAD can also make you mad or affect you just a tad
It took me years to be aware of myself enough to notice the connect between day light and my moods. If you’ve never paid attention before, maybe this is the year.
Here’s what the Mayo Clinic has to say about Seasonal Affective Disorder.
“SAD begins and ends at about the same times every year. If you’re like most people with SAD, your symptoms start in the fall and continue into the winter months, sapping your energy and making you feel moody.”
I love that the word “depressed” or “sad” isn’t even in there. Sapping your energy and making you feel moody are the symptoms.
Are you seasonally affected?
The American Family Physician says up to 20 percent of people have mild SAD. TWENTY PERCENT. 1 in 5.
And yet, it can take high level ninja skills to really be able to notice if you have SAD because our brains often like to find a way to match our internal issues with external reasons, even if there’s not actually a connection.
Maybe you’re feeling moody and tired and you’re finding yourself saying, “Oh it’s because of that project at work that isn’t going so well.” or “Oh, it’s because I have so much on my plate right now.” or “I’m just lazy.”
And yes, maybe that’s the reason why.
Or maybe it SAD.
To help weed out mismatched external issues…ask yourself what’s really changed?
You might be having an issue at work – but did that issue intensify recently, or does it just feel like it? The last time the issue was there, did it feel this same way or does it seem harder for some reason? Did you have more on your plate than you did a few weeks ago or does it just feel like there’s too much to handle right now?
Don’t label yourself
This is why I hate the word lazy. It’s a…well…a lazy way of dealing with depression and SAD. If you are [insert label] here then there’s nothing to be done but hate yourself and give up. I’m lazy. I’m useless. I’m a failure. I’m not enough.
Would you say those things to someone with epilepsy? It’s your fault because you’re lazy.
No! You’d say Take your anti-seizure medication and take care of yourself!
So, can you do that for yourself? Can you treat yourself with the same generosity and care?
If the sun won’t shine, do it yourself
My go-to for SAD, besides general self care, is my Light Therapy Lamp.
I bought this old gal a few years ago and it’s a staple for me during the winter. If you’re new to Light Therapy, it’s a known treatment for SAD and depression. It’s pretty simple, you sit in front of a light box that mimics the outdoor light which helps your brain know to produce the chemicals you need.
If you’ve never used it before, it’s crazy bright.
You’re not supposed to look directly into the light, so when I worked in an office, I actually brought it in and put it next to my computer. When I got in first thing, I would turn it on and let it run for a 20 or 30 minute cycle.
If you work at a desk, I highly recommend this because it’s a routine that will help you do it every day. Yes, people will come by and they will make comments.
At first I was embarrassed so I would try to turn it off when I heard someone coming. And then I realized that was stupid because
A) There’s nothing wrong with me and I’m just taking care of myself.
B) Someone else probably has SAD too
Turns out, they do. Because several people in my office bought one. So maybe you can give someone else the gift of discovering they have SAD too!
It’s a natural therapy but there are some contraindications so read up on it before you buy one.
Do what you can and just that
I think I’ve been feeling the affects of SAD for about two or three weeks. But it took me this long just to get the damn lamp out – mostly because I was moody and tired and just didn’t feel like it.
And now that it’s out, I know there will be a lot of days when I won’t use it. Because I’m too moody and tired and don’t feel like it.
And that’s ok. It isn’t because I’m lazy or useless or a failure. And neither are you. Be patient and kind with yourself during this time. Do what you can and know that each time you take one step, that’s enough.
Now get out there and take care of yourself, you adult!
I used an Amazon affiliate link for my sun lamp. If you buy it, I think I get a few pennies, which I promise I will spend wisely!