September 5, 2018 at 7:12 pm #224437
I think I've caught my S.A.D. symptoms early enough to tackle the problems head-on this year.
Every single year starting sometime in September, my symptoms begin to appear in this seasonal depression. It starts out small, with thoughts feeding into my consciousness- especially later at night- things that are designed to make me uncertain in all areas of my life. It usually hits worst in the areas that I'm feeling the most secure or happy about, which is the most frustrating part.
Just tonight, less than an hour ago, I was hit with my first big wave of the season. I just felt tremendously sad, slightly in despair, and I literally had tears in my eyes. The trigger? Having just been happy spending a few hours with my long-distance boyfriend. We set up plans for what show we wanted to watch next, I was glad to be able to hear his voice today, things are looking up for him after a rough patch he'd been having, and things seem to be going well between us.
Then the following happened, and I'll try to capture the downward spiral of my brain about an hour after we separated for the evening to do our own things:
1.) “I really enjoy watching shows with him, I'm so excited to watch more! He's always got good suggestions, though I'm glad he let me pick what show we do next, I've been wanting to watch that for a while now.”
2.) “I guess I feel a little bad about not having an idea for a show we could watch, but I don't really watch a ton of shows he either hasn't seen or could readily watch… I mostly watch things on the travel or history channels. I don't think expeditions and animals are exactly his thing.”
3.) “Come to think of it he knows so many shows and a lot about music, and he's always sending me youtube videos I've never seen… I guess I could do the same thing, but I feel like I'm not quite as informed as he is about a lot of this stuff.”
4.) “We share anime and music, but… what can I share with him? I read books and do art and meditate and research random things… I'm not really all that interesting. I guess some of my research is cool…”
5.) “I'm not really an exciting person, I don't think. I'm really relaxed… I'm a ‘sit by the fireplace and drink some tea' kind of person a lot of the time. Does that make me boring?”
6.) “What if he thinks I'm kind of lame after a while? He might just decide I'm dull and leave…”
7.) “This is terrible. Why can't I be more interesting? Who's going to stay with someone like me?”
And thus, the spiral gets out of control.
It took something normal and twisted it into a problem that didn't previously exist, and left me feeling not only scared, but tempted to reach out for reassurance- an issue I've already been working on.
Let me be clear: My self esteem outside of S.A.D. season is great. During Spring and Summer, I feel at my best, optimistic about who I am and about the future. When the days get shorter and the winter rolls in, and the S.A.D. has a chance to set in, these anxious thoughts become much more abundant and I find myself feeling less and less adequate or capable.
My motivation drains. I become more self-conscious. My optimism falls, and I'm left feeling needy in relationships, stressed at school despite getting good grades, somewhat uncertain I'm capable of handling my future- it's like a building comes crashing down around me. Or at least, it wants to.
I have a therapist I can turn to if it gets too bad. But I really want to do all I can this year to find some way to control myself without the need to return to therapy. I'm tired of letting it ruin my mood and my life every autumn/winter season, and I don't want to let it convince me of things that aren't true anymore. To start, I'll probably just ask my boyfriend for a hug tonight, but I'm not going to give into the temptation to ask if I'm boring: because why would he be here if I wasn't interesting? Why would he look forward to spending time with me or talking to me? He would not be dating me if I wasn't worth his time. So how could I even entertain the thought that I'm not good enough as I am? And even then, if he did decide I was boring, wouldn't that just indicate I'm better suited for someone else who can appreciate that I'm more laid back and artsy/etc.?
I'm going to work on catching myself in the act from now on. The moment I caught on to the fact it was my S.A.D. talking and the moment I realized it was trying to make me feel bad again with no evidence- it was like a veil was lifted. I stopped crying, the sadness dispersed, and I felt compelled to type things out on here. I felt myself become more level-headed just by acknowledging that this anxious voice, whatever it was, wasn't the one I wanted to listen to.
It's going to take a lot of work and I know some nights are still going to be hard. But I know I can do this, I know I'm good enough and that I'm always doing my best in school… and I deserve to be accepted and appreciated as I am, even if I have flaws and things to work on about myself that could do with some changing. I'm still a good person with my own hobbies and interests, and if that's not good enough for someone, then they don't need to be a part of my life anyway. I'll have to keep pounding these truths into my head to silence the S.A.D. when it tries to take over. I don't want to let it control me anymore. When I let it get to me, I become someone I don't want to be, and it negatively impacts my relationships with others and myself.
I am the one in control of my thoughts and emotions. I won't get mad at myself if I start to feel down, but I have to work to correct my thoughts when they're being illogical. I'm the one in control of my life- I'm not a passenger, and I've done a lot of things I'm proud of in the last year alone, like getting my first internship and working over a hundred hours over the summer. I'm stronger now than I ever was before, and I'll keep building that strength day after day.
It seems for right now that strength needs to be mental.September 6, 2018 at 4:40 am #224469
“I won't get mad at myself if I start to feel down”- most important. There are parents who turn aggressive toward their child just because the child looks sad! Better not do it to oneself, turn against oneself in anger for feeling sad, or feeling anything at all that is unpleasant or distressing. Instead, be gentle with oneself.
“I have to work to correct my thoughts when they're being illogical”- very important, the principle behind Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, correcting illogical or distorted thoughts, replacing them with logical, correct thoughts, thoughts true to reality.
“I'm the one in control of my life- I'm not a passenger”- reminds me of the concept my former therapist taught me, Internal Locus of Control: I make things happen (I act!) instead of External Locus of Control, that is, other people/circumstances make things happen in my life (I react).
“I'm stronger now than I ever was before, and I'll keep building that strength day after day”- gently, not expecting perfection, not in the process of getting stronger and not in the hoped for strength itself. An element of weakness is always there for us human animals.
“I think I've caught my S.A.D. symptoms early enough”- I don't think we catch SAD, or depression. The thoughts, the beliefs behind them, the worries are there yearlong, only they get activated more often in this or that season, this or that life circumstance. You may find yourself comforted by winter sometime in the future and be surprised.
anitaSeptember 6, 2018 at 3:41 pm #224547
‘“I think I've caught my S.A.D. symptoms early enough”- I don't think we catch SAD, or depression. The thoughts, the beliefs behind them, the worries are there yearlong, only they get activated more often in this or that season, this or that life circumstance. You may find yourself comforted by winter sometime in the future and be surprised.'
Pardon the confusion of language; I simply meant that I caught on to the symptoms early, not that I caught the SAD. ‘Caught' as in ‘noticed,' as it were. My Seasonal Affective Disorder has already been diagnosed in years past and I've had a sun lamp to use as well, though I may need to start using it more regularly to get the desired effect. These worries really aren't around year long for me- they only begin to appear when the SAD does. If this were the middle of summer, the idea wouldn't have even crossed my mind. I've been keeping track of things this year to get a clearer picture of the trend based upon a suggestion from my therapist after last year's bout of seasonal depression. It's certainly been useful, I'd say.September 7, 2018 at 4:58 am #224569
I understand the correction you made. You noticed the symptoms early, not that you caught the symptoms as one would catch a cold, for example. I hope the sun lamp helps. I suppose if it is possible for you to, let's say, have a picture of the sun shining in a blue sky on the walls or ceiling of your room/ home, that could help as well, as the sun lamp can shine at the picture of the sun which will reflect the light back to you.