There are times of year which people favor more than others. There are times when the autumn winds begin to change from warm to cool. The leaves change color and then fall to the ground to leave the branches empty. There are times when seasons affect us in different ways. Some have a hard time when the seasons move towards the holiday time and some people find this triggers a sad way of thinking. There is a term for this. Then again, there is a term for everything nowadays. And I’m not much for labels however, the one thing this can affirm is we are not as lonely as our thoughts may imply.
There is something called Seasonal Affective Disorder, which is something I relate to. The disorder is exactly as it sounds. This is when we have seasonal depression or depressive symptoms during the seasonal parts of the year. Statistics say that 2 – 5% of people will struggle with a severe clinical form of severe seasonal depression and 10 -15% will struggle with a milder form of seasonal depression with a larger number of people from 25 – 35% will live with something called the winter blues.
I suppose there is no secret that the acronym for this disorder is S.A.D because yes, this is a sad thing to deal with. There are times when depression hits. The mood from all the holiday cheer is unlike the internal feeling we have. And meanwhile, everyone is cheery and bright. The movies on television are beautiful and teary to say the least. Everything is so intense. Everything is heavy and for some, this is all too heavy.
Sometimes the depression makes it hard to get out of bed. This increases anxiety and irritability. The ideas of loss and the loved ones that have passed away are triggered by the warm lights and holiday decorations that link us back to memories of loved ones before they passed and their seats at the table became empty. There can be changes in appetite and weight gain, which certainly contributes to depressive thinking. And then of course, there is also a hyper-sensitivity to rejection or the ideas of rejection. The symptoms are not unlike other depressive disorders, however, these symptoms often come during the winter months.
Now, I do not write about this as a professional nor am I writing this to offer a diagnosis for anyone. I don’t do diagnosis or judgement. That’s not my job.
However, as a coach and as a recovery advocate and as someone that looks to understand more about different depressive and anxiety based disorders to improve the personal standards of mental health, I write about this to discuss the common conflicts we undergo as individuals.
Now, add this up and add the stressors of usual life; add the holiday season and the current mood, which is odd at best because let’s face it, the year 2020 has been less than kind. We have been kept socially distant and separated. Let’s not forget that depression itself is taking its place on the scene.
Therefore, aside from usual tensions are the unusual tensions which have been mounting throughout the year because of the outbreak of infections due to Covid-19.
Now add the change of daylight. Add the triggers that come with seasonally depressive symptoms. Add the post traumatic stressors that we’ve been faced throughout the year such as the political fiasco, the skewed reports from the news and social media, and then add the riots and violence, as well as the increase in overdoses, domestic disputes and pregnancy, which is also on the rise.
The mood in New York City is far from its usual Christmas way. The tree at Rockefeller Center had its troubles before making its debut on December 2. The shopping stressors might not be the same because of the accessibility to online services but the financial worries are certainly a topic for discussion.
Now add the losses we’ve faced throughout the year. Think about the families that lost people this year. Think of the anniversaries of loss, which already make this season tough to bear and it’s no wonder why depressive thinking is leading us down a tragic road.
I was reminded of a show that I used to watch. I remembered an episode in which one of the characters lost his son to a drug overdose. The man was waking up one morning and a friend asked “How’re you feeling?”
The man told him that he used to have a friend with only one arm. He said that when the friend would dream, he would dream that he had both arms. And each time he woke up, it was as though the friend relived the very same moment when he lost his arm again.
This analogy is perfect for me. Although I never lost a son or daughter, I do understand the interpretation of loss and the unending feeling that comes when the subject of loss resurfaces.
These days are far from easy. Whether we are talking about Seasonal Affective Disorder or just life, there is a need to understand our thoughts. There is a need to understand our feelings. We want to know why.
Why do we hurt? Why does everything have to seem so damned tragic or be so intense? Why does our body’s chemistry respond the way it does? And goddammit, why is depression even a thing anymore?
Would anyone miss depression if it were gone?
(I doubt it.)
There are times like now when people that suffer the most will come forward and say the least. There are people that struggle in silence because the idea of stepping forward is simply too much to consider. Each year, I open up a phone number to the public as a text support line.
This year is no different. All calls are confidential however, this is not a professional healthcare service. This is only a means of support without judgement.
Sometimes the best medicine is to transfer energy. Sometimes we need to hear something that is other than the voice inside our head. Oftentimes, we need a resource broker to help us come to a constructive conclusion so that we can find our way and change this season into what it is supposed to be: A time for caring, a time for sharing, a time to love and a time to rejoice.
If you or someone you know is in need of support, please feel free to reach out and text me at (929) 777 – 5685
Stay safe out there folks.
And remember, you are not alone.