I have never been one to shy away from my feelings. I believe that all of them have a place in our lives that need to be experienced. You don’t know the joy unless you experience the pain. You won’t understand the full-hearted feeling unless you experience the brokenness of loss. If we look to nature, it takes the sun and the rain to make a flower grow, and I believe this is true for ourselves as well. Both the positive and negative feelings need to be experienced in order to improve.
For most people, spring is a time of renewal. The earth is awakening from her deep slumber, and the ground is thawing, bringing about flowers and color. Bright, inviting colors. Greens and blues. Pinks and yellows. Mother Nature is dressing in a beautiful new outfit for us to enjoy. Unless of course spring is not a season you enjoy.
Those with allergies might not like to venture outdoors much. Or maybe the thoughts your kids finding every single mud puddle to jump in has you cringing. The dog and her wet paws, trekking through the house is definitely not a welcome event. The snow melting leaves behind a mold that my youngest struggles with each year. And then there are those that suffer from an illness that cannot be heard in a wheezing in the chest or by the sight of a red nose from blowing it constantly. There is a mood disorder that comes with the changing of a season.
Seasonal affective disorder.
SAD is a reoccurring major depressive disorder that occurs at a particular time of the year and is not seen on other occasions. This condition is now recognized as a common disorder in between 4% to 6% of people will suffer from winter depression and less with summer depression that begins in late spring or early summer. This disorder is more common the further north you go and is thought to be linked to a number of daylight hours.
Symptoms of SAD tend to come and go around the same time every year, and it is not related to any obvious seasonal problems such as layoffs that may occur during the winter or summer months. I have suffered from this for as long as I can remember. Spring has never been one of my favorite times of the year, with all the muck and dirt showing itself as the snow melts. I have never liked the unpredictable weather that spring often brings. Rain one day and snow the next. We put on a winter jacket in the morning, only to be boiling in it by late afternoon.
In past years I have known it was going to hit. This year, however, I could feel my mood sliding more than usual and things that normally interested me, no longer held my attention. I craved starchy, salty snacks but have little appetite for meals. I am sure my kids will tell you I am irritable and my mood is unpredictable. Add to that the fatigue that wants to keep me in bed all day and the avoidance of any social situations and you have me this spring. It took me a while to recognize the symptoms but one morning as I sat in the same clothes I had been wearing for a few days and while trying to figure out what that smell was until I realized I hadn’t showered in as many days, and I knew that this year was by far worse than previous years.
And I cried.
I cried because I felt the weight of the world on my shoulders for no good reason. I cried because I no longer wanted to get together with friends. I cried because my head seemed to always hold onto a headache. I cried because I felt lost. Hopelessly lost. The helplessness of sitting in that chair realizing that I had not even bothered to shower in however many days it had been and I felt like I was failing at life.
I knew that I had to make a doctor’s appointment but kept putting it off until tomorrow. Until after a nap. Until after the weekend. Until after whatever excuse I could find. Until one day, I couldn’t put it off any longer. I was scaring myself with the deep well I felt I was in and sinking further each day. I had to make that appointment. I had kids to worry about. Dinners to make. Life to live.
I had to force myself to do things that most people do without any thought, like get out of bed. Actually put real clothes on. This was a struggle because I work from home and like to work in my jammies, but I needed to do this for no other reason than it is what others do. I forced myself to have breakfast that isn’t a dry piece of toast to ward of the shakes I would get from not eating. I forced myself to connect with family and friends. And I chose to stay off social media as much as my job allows.
When I use the term force that is the true meaning of what I have had to do. I had to talk to myself out loud to get myself to work with me. The internal voice of reason had gotten up and left, so I had to use an external dialogue with myself, listing all the reasons it was right to get out of bed or put on pants or phone a friend or drive to watch my kid’s rugby game.
Today, I am doing much better. I still have those external dialogues with myself and the antidepressants have kicked in and are helping me. That strong independent woman I know and love is still in there. She just needed a rest and is taking a vacation for now. She will be back soon, this I am sure of because I got the help that I needed and am helping myself.
If any of this sounds familiar to you, please, talk to your doctor. You don’t have to suffer. You don’t have to try to outlast the hopeless feelings. There are medications and behavior modifications that can help. Reach out and get the assistance that you need and deserve.