Coping With Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) / Seasonal Depression

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a real thing – although I suppose if I were to get nitty gritty about it I would argue that it’s less a disorder than it is a difference in how human beings as individuals cope with the sudden lack of sunlight, change in weather, and instinct to hibernate in a society that still expects them to not only be productive but also deal with the stress around the expectations of the holidays. Still, as a feeling and an experience, it’s real.

I have always felt a slowdown in November and December followed by a burst of creativity in the new year and around my January birthday. I don’t want to do much right now other than stay in bed and rest (which I probably need at least some of in all honesty), even though I have a bunch of things I had planned on working on within the next couple weeks. Even though I technically have work with which I could be filling the space, everything seems a little pointless between now and that time in the not-so-distant future.

The nice thing about expanding your consciousness of your timeline (getting older?) is that you realize that this feeling is just temporary, that it doesn’t have to be debilitating, that you are not actually being excluded from life right now but that you are simply waiting for that burst of energy to return and that when it does, you’ll feel that joy and connection and inspiration again.

I feel a big fat void this month. And even though it’s only two and a half weeks between now and Christmas, I’m pouty about continuing to slog away doing work that feels like it won’t have a payoff until I cross that bridge into 2019. Even if I know that in continuing my ongoing work momentum I am setting up my future, I feel a bodily resistance coming up, a resistance that just wants to nest and build fires and make food and be held. I’m in grief for the future that isn’t here yet. I’m fielding all kinds of past stories about aloneness and futility, and some of them are capable of building up into resentments and bitterness if I don’t keep a watchful eye on them.

The thing is, I used to let those feelings and stories consume me. And now I don’t anymore.

Because I know that when January gets here, my future self is going to turn around and say, “What the hell was all the fuss about?” I know that even work that is rewarding and fulfilling isn’t always easy, because even adjusting ourselves so that we remove the obstacles to receiving abundance isn’t always easy when you’re on the beginning side of it. It becomes easy in hindsight once we’ve done it. It’s the difference between the initial terrifying decision to tackle your trauma healing and the ease, peace, and flow that comes when you’re on the other side.

And that’s the difference made by having conscious awareness of your patterns. It doesn’t mean that the difficult times disappear entirely, but it means that they don’t get to control you anymore, because you’re better able to feel into your future outcomes. 

So instead of allowing feelings of despair and futility to consume me, I remind myself that I probably do need a day to just sleep in and rest, and I decide to order the groceries I need, straighten up my house a bit (because clutter increases anxiety), do a couple of basic work tasks that will set me up for more productivity tomorrow (it’s easy to reach out to people with a few sentences asking for the details I’ll need when I do the actual work), and let myself have a night where I unwind early and get a full night’s sleep. I check in with the feelings in my body, ask where they’re coming from, give myself an orgasm to shake the grief loose so it can come to the surface and be examined (it helps), and I write a post about how I feel, because really all my body wants right now is to be witnessed in its truth. Because telling my body to just suck it up and get back to work is exactly how to destroy all the trust I’ve spent the past few years working to build between us. Because my body is willing to listen and cooperate when I meet it halfway and remind it what we’re doing this for and how much better things can get if we just do the things we’ve promised ourselves we would do, and that they’re not really that hard. Because sometimes my body is a child that just needs me to drop in and be present and remind it that it is loved and that there’s a reason for everything we’re doing, and once it knows it matters and is valued then it’s fine with wiping its nose and getting in the goddamn car.

That’s the difference healing makes. Not that the seas are never stormy, but that I’m a more capable captain. And I always know how to steer my own ship forward.

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