The Blue Season
Ever since I can remember I've loathed the time change. Daylight Savings Time gets me every single year. It seems like I'm getting an extra hour of rest (yasss!) but in reality, it screws with my internal clock, makes me somewhat dopey for days, and I begin to crave sunlight actively. Because of my schedule, I generally get up when it's still dark outside and leave work when it's dark out. There is very little time to get in a few precious hours of sunlight.
Seasonal Affected Disorder or SAD is something that I've struggled with for most of my life. Growing up, I always thought of it as just the 'winter blues,' and felt this was something that I'd have to learn to live with or hopefully would grow out of. Apparently, I'm not alone in my affliction. According to Psychology Today, there is an estimated 10 million Americans who are affected by this disorder. SAD is also four times more common in women than in men, and in addition to that 10 million, there is another 10 to 20 percent of people who experience mild symptoms of SAD.
To me, this number is massive. It's also reassuring however that I am not alone. Your mental health is essential, a lot of people tend to put mental health on the backburner (I am guilty of this) when really, it should be as important as your physical health. I've experienced this first hand: ignoring symptoms of burn out and pushing through when I've needed a break, being a remote worker and feeling the effects of loneliness and even just forgoing vacation days because there was just too much to do. It's something that I believe everyone struggles with at some level, especially given new technology and the ever growing demands of work.
As we are about to enter the darker parts of the year, I think it's a good time to remind each other to take care of ourselves. Last year I began implementing tricks and tools to help pull myself back up when I felt my SAD symptoms kicking in. Planning dinner or lunch dates with friends, going on hikes and getting outside in the colder months even just going for a walk at lunchtime helped me feel better. I realize that this will not work for everyone, sometimes you need something more. There is nothing wrong with reaching out to friends and family to let them know how you are feeling.
I hope that by talking about these issues, it will help others open up about their feelings and what they are going through. It can be scary to admit you are feeling down or just not yourself, opening up, however, is a good reminder that you are not alone. We are all in this together. I found when I opened up, more people opened up to me and told me they have similar feelings. I began to feel better letting out my feelings and realizing that yes, I had a support network and friends who wanted me to feel better.
While it's great to reach out to your network for support sometimes, you need a little more. If you are having thoughts of suicide, hurting yourself or feel there is no way out, please reach out to a service near you.