What i want you to know about Seasonal Affective Disorder

What I Want You to Know is a series of reader submissions. It is an attempt to allow people to tell their personal stories, in the hopes of bringing greater compassion to the unique issues each of us face. If you would like to submit a story to this series, click here. Today’s guest posts is by Faith.


What I want you to know is that having SAD is not the same as being sad. I want you to know that having SAD is not just having a "down" day because of poor weather. I want you to know that the fact that seasonal affective disorder is seasonal, does not make it any easier, less consuming, isolating, or frightening as regular depression.

Each year I dread winter. It's not just the cold. I actually really like being able to see the mountains' bony, leafless spines, I like snow, and before I had young children I didn't mind the cold so much. Each year SAD catches me off guard. I know it is coming, but each year I convince myself that this is the year I will conquer it. Each year the process begins before I can identify it. Each year I think there is something wrong with me. Each year I get to a place of hopelessness and despair. All despite the fact that it has proven itself to be temporary.

I want you to know that seeing yourself become someone else is frightening-- even when you've been there before. Each year you are convinced that this change is there to stay, that these feelings of inadequacy, anger, anxiety, and suffocating loneliness are now who you are. You start to become convinced that who you were never really existed, and that who you are now is who you will always be. You despise yourself.

I want you to know that "thinking positively" doesn't work. Because "thinking positively" is not an option. I want you to know that praying and reading the bible are not cures for SAD. That God, no matter how much you may believe in and love him, feels so distant that praying and reading the bible feel irrelevant.

I want you to know that the Wikipedia description of SAD does not tell you that you wake up each morning only because you have to. That life loses meaning and all direction. That your husband and children feel like strangers, because you are not yourself. That you are angry. So angry. And you don't know why.

I want you to know that I've known two people personally who suffered from SAD who took their lives because of it. I want you to know that you can't just "snap out of it" and that though seasonal, it is serious. I want you to know that I don't seem depressed because I still know how to smile, talk, and walk around, like a normal person. When I can't do those things, I don't go out. And even when I can, it doesn't feel the same. I feel distant, many times I feel like I am acting a part. Being "normal" feels unnatural and it can be exhausting even just to make myself go to the grocery store. My family eats a lot of pizza in the winter.

I want you to know that when I say I wish humans could hibernate, I am not being funny. All I want to do is sleep. And disappear. I want you to know that giving me advice, when you have never been where I am, is not helpful. If you want to help, listen. Let me be angry. Let me cry. Don't try to suppress what I am feeling just because they are not happy feelings, I do that enough in my efforts to be normal for my children. Pursue me, and don't be hurt when I use lame excuses not to hang out. Keep pursuing me. I want to be me again, I just don't know how. If I can be real with you, no matter how depressing "real" is, it helps me feel human. It helps.

I want you to know that I will be me again. I just don't always know it.

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