Coping With S.A.D. Moments During Holidays With Seasonal Affective Disorder

It’s that time of year: the time when we’re cooking, cleaning and entertaining more than usual. We’re traveling and shopping, all on top of everything else we tend to do every day without fail. It’s also when our days get shorter and our nights longer. And for some of us, that means our eyes are not twinkling and our dimples are not merry. Instead, it can be hard to be excited about anything. All many of us really want to do is wrap up in a cozy blanket with a cup of tea and a good book.

Even though voices are tempting me to be jolly, inside my soul is sad and retreating. Psychology Today reports an estimated 10 million Americans have seasonal affective disorder (SAD).

This time of year used to be my favorite. I looked forward to the cold weather change, the sight of twinkling lights on houses and the adornment of red and green in the stores. People always appeared to be walking a little lighter and behaving a little friendlier. I looked forward to time with relatives rarely seen and succulent dishes prepared only on special occasions.

But something happened as I got older, and all of that changed. It got to where my depression would worsen. I became sad — the kind of sad where some days I just didn’t bother to get out of bed. My anxiety increased. Just the thought of going to the grocery store for bread and milk caused my anxiety level to rise. My brain would become blank, and I couldn’t carry on conversations. No amount of holiday tunes, apple pie, or bright lights helped to ease my struggle.

Even though my symptoms of SAD have never truly gone away, I do wake up determined not to let it get the best of me. As much as I’m not a fan of the sun, I force myself to get outside for at least 15 minutes each day (though 30 minutes is most often recommended). I pet my dog more than normal; pet therapy can be a wonderful thing. I have found watching comedies puts a smile on my face and in my heart, more so than reality TV housewives do. During a moment of SAD, they are only a reminder of what I don’t have.

The thing I want my family and friends to remember most is that in a SAD moment, I won’t be the life of the party, and it may not make sense to them, because it doesn’t make sense to me. SAD is not something I can just snap out of. When I force myself to enjoy holiday activities, that will usually mean I’ll become even more fatigued and will need a nap. I may even go to bed early. The thing to remember is I am trying. And that’s all I can do.

Image via Thinkstock.

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