I am an anxious person. I was diagnosed with General Anxiety Disorder and OCPD at nine years old. This means that my mind is constantly running at 110, even if it looks like it isn’t.
However, every so often, my mind will go blank, the fatigue will set in, and I have to remind myself that I need to do things like eat, drink water, and shower.
Yes, I’m talking about seasonal depression. Not the cutesy tumblr winter blues (don’t come for me, I love tumblr, but it all can have incredibly skewed views on mental illness), the true Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD, as it’s appropriately named). Except, I have never felt flat out sad because of SAD, so it’s a bit of a contradiction.
In fact, the whole idea of seasonal depression didn’t quite mesh with me when I was first informed of the idea of it. I had experienced strong reactionary depression before to certain traumas, but nothing like this.
It came out of nowhere. I’m the type of person who felt very comfortable labeling myself as a sufferer of severe anxiety, (or someone who was challenged with severe anxiety, as my friend’s therapist insists upon phrasing it).
But anxiety in itself was a contradiction to depression, in my mind. How could I actually have anxiety severe enough to consider it a disorder if I became depressed to the point of not caring enough to recognize my ongoing anxiety? It swirled around in my head like a whirlpool, at a time when I really shouldn’t have been analyzing my mental health issues.
I’ve been able to realize why it affects me the way it does a bit more clearly, now that I’ve had the time to analyze it while not being afflicted with it over the years.
I live in a place where we have very defined seasons, mostly when considering Winter and Summer. Often, Autumn and Spring are super short, barely lasting a month. My SAD affects me most often Summer going into Autumn, as the temperatures turn cold. When I was in school, it affected me more when the Winter transitioned into Spring. And last Summer I had it happen when we were turning the AC on and off “every other day”. That made me realize a little more of how it was a mental reaction to a physical situation, and it started to make more sense.
So, during these very short transitional periods in the weather, I get extremely fatigued and mentally just weak. Occasionally, on really bad days, I get lovely “behind the eyes” migraines when I literally just have to chug water and Tylenol and sleep. In general, I cannot concentrate, and I often spend time just phased out during the day. The thing about that it is normally when I daydream or don’t concentrate on what’s happening around me, it’s my anxiety making itself known to me. My mind running 110, as I like to describe it.
With SAD, there’s nothing.
I feel the need to do… nothing.
I wait it out, and use the periods when it isn’t hitting me as hard to do as much as I can.
But motivation is so hard to find when there isn’t anything there. When nothing feels like it matters or will ever matter again.
And believe me, seasonal depression is no joke when you realize you’re feeling it. Because it just makes you angry that you can’t snap out of it. And in my case, it kicks in my anxiety.
“Why aren’t you strong enough?”
“You have so much you could be doing!”
“You have to do that now! Everyone is relying on you, you have to succeed!”
“Just do it, there’s nothing stopping you.”
But my anxiety is wrong. My Seasonal Affective Disorder is stopping me, berating me, making everything harder for me. And there’s no shame in it. I shouldn’t have to ignore it, to fight it, for it to be valid. It’s a part of me like my dry skin or my bad posture (since I quit choir years ago). Just because they aren’t positive things doesn’t make them the end of my world, or the world.
The thing about mental health issues is that they don’t care if they don’t make sense to you.
You can live your entire life mentally ill not understanding why you have it, or how or why it affects you the way it does.
And it’s scary. When they inflame, it feels like there’s nothing left to hang onto. To tether you.
But in the end, it passes. It changes, it metamorphosizes, it varies. Everyday.
Despair isn’t the only answer. It’s never the only answer. Because we are strong. We build ourselves up everyday, we face ourselves everyday. Even on days when we don’t want to move, to get out of bed, we think of how it would be if we were better. And that reinforces us. It gives us hope. And that’s all we need to face the struggle as it ebbs and flows.
This is my experience with SAD, of course, and there are tons of people who experience it a lot more severely than I do (even though I sort of downplayed it for the narrative’s sake here). I just thought it may be interesting to share it because I have a different experience with it because I have severe anxiety. They work in tandem and against each other in different ways for me than most.
Today’s Music Pick:
Hostage – Danrell X Småland
I love this type of song. Over the past few months, I’ve been going back to it over and over. The first 10 – 15 seconds has such a strong hook, and then it transitions into this softer easy listening type of vibe. It builds up to a strong chorus, and it’s mixed electronica with pure vocals pulls me in like I’ve never really experienced before. So unique! As I’m listening to it, it sways past me with it’s easy listening vibe and then it’s over and I don’t know where the time went. All of the pieces fit together so well, almost too well, with how it just flows despite the contrasting styles. [ My Music Playlist ]