I have Seasonal Affective Disorder and sometimes I feel s.a.d.
More than a decade ago I was diagnosed with seasonal affective disorder. I sat opposite a doctor in a white lab coat, in a white bare room and listened while he told me that there was something wrong with me. I was a new teenager who was struggling with self-harm and self-hatred and the last thing I wanted to hear was that I had another “disorder”.
I ignored this diagnosis for as long as I could until I realized if I wasn’t going to actively work on getting better, it was only going to get worse.
Seasonal affective disorder is when a person is typically more depressed or sad in the winter months. It’s more than the normal “winter blues” and it can feel like you are in a deep hole that you’re not willing to dig out of.
Some winters have been better than others and through a lot of hard work, therapy and understanding, I (mostly) have this “disorder” under control. I wanted to talk about s.a.d. because it was recently Bell Lets Talk day and it made me realize how scared I have been to speak about mental health on this blog.
To tell you the truth, I’ve shied away from speaking about my mental health story because I don’t want people to think differently of me. This is exactly the stigma mental health has and it’s heartbreaking. It’s heartbreaking for me because I’ve been fighting and winning my mental health battle, yet I’m scared to write about it on this blog because I don’t want the people in my life to look at me differently. I don’t want those people to read this and then decide they don’t actually want to be in my life.
But, screw this. Everyone will go through a mental health struggle and we need to remember it’s okay to not be okay.
When I didn’t have my seasonal affective disorder under control I used to sit in my bed for days at a time. I wouldn’t go to school, I wouldn’t go to work and I would just curl up in my bed. I would turn off my bedroom lights at 2 pm and I wouldn’t leave my room. Sometimes I was in my bed for days. Something came over me and it took away my happiness.
A lot has changed recently when it comes to my mental health. I’m a stable adult now who doesn’t hide in my bedroom. Yes, I have bad days and that is normal. Some days I’m more quiet than normal, but one thing I’ve made sure of is that this “disorder” doesn’t run my life because I don’t have time for that. If you’re not at this point and you are still hiding under your covers, trust me, it really does get better. You just can’t give up yet.
The biggest thing if you have s.a.d is to get outside in the winter time. Don’t hide away inside, you need the sunlight and you need the exercise. Recently I joined a gym and it’s helped me so much. I look forward to going to work out because it gets my blood pumping and it makes me happy.
Me, happy? Who would have thought!
Okay, while this was a ramble (sorry), it was something I wanted to get out in the open. If you take anything away from this post, let it be that you don’t have to be embarrassed or shy about your mental health. If we were to speak openly about it, maybe some people’s lives would be different. Maybe people would lift each other up instead of bringing each other down. Maybe, just maybe, mental health would become an okay thing to talk about.
A healthy outside starts from inside.