Here it comes: The great grey wave. Even here in Texas El Nino promises us an even colder and wetter Winter than usual, and with it comes (at least for me) the deep sadness that is Seasonal Affective Disorder.
It might be a happy coincidence that its acronym spells SAD, but that’s where the humor ends. I find that this icky syndrome, much like any other strain of chronic depression, comes like a thief in the night.
It started up again for me a few weeks ago, when we experienced a bout of over a week straight of grey skies, no punctuation between morning and afternoon, just blah. I started to feel the sluggishness. I started to shrivel.
But like you’re usually the last one to know you’re PMSing, I didn’t immediately give credit to the weather for my blue-ness. I thought, I’m burnt out. I just need sleep.
But one Saturday morning, I slept in awfully late, woke up and sat on the couch in my worn-in grey bathrobe and thought, “Why do I feel like everything is terrible, and that it’s never going to get any better?”
And then my boyfriend, as if compelled by clairvoyance, walked around and slowly turned on every light in the house.
I felt a tiny thrill of hope. Really, that easily? Yeah, that easily. Because sometimes you’re so down you can’t even be bothered to entertain the idea of walking across the room to flip on a light. But that day, after my tiny light-induced high, I downed an extra cup of coffee or two, reluctantly pulled on some workout gear, and physically forced myself out the door for a five mile run.
Later that day, I put on makeup for the first time in weeks (It’s amazing how slow the slide is when you’re in a rut), and soon I felt like I could conquer the world. Or at least get in my car and go somewhere.
Lately I’ve been making myself do things like eat dessert, buy candles, make more YouTube videos, run even when I feel like death, and buy new makeup, just to stick it to the depression that tries to sneak in. And so far, I think I’m winning.
I guess I decided to think of SAD as being like a seasonal allergy (which I’m quite acquainted with by now), in that the medicine needs to build up in your system to prevent the misery, and you have to stay on top of it to keep those nasty allergens from creeping in again.
The problem, familiarly, is that we often forget just how bad the original reaction was, and we lapse in our treatment. But I’ve taken to prescribing myself Light! and Music! and Exercise! even when I don’t feel like I need it, because the best way I’ve found to tame the demon of depression (notice I said tame, not vanquish) is to fight it off every day with consistent treatment.
Do I fail? Yeah, I fail. I get overwhelmed, I get burnt out, I lose focus. But identifying your monster is half the battle, and I know what this one looks like. It’s a mopey, soggy grey wisp that can grow into a mountain if left unattended. I just have to confront it every day. That, and cross my fingers for some sunshine.