themighty logo

The Unusual Way Seasonal Affective Disorder Affects Me

I’m sure many of you looked out your windows recently and thought about how beautiful it was outside. We have received significant amounts of snow and rain over the last few weeks, and all I see all over Facebook is memes about how badly people want summer, and people complaining about the repeated weather patterns of “gloominess.” It’s a little chilly today, but the sun was out and there were little clouds above. For most of you (if not all of you), this is a glimmer of hope that spring is almost here and we are finally on the up and up out of this nasty weather.

For me, however, I have spent the second half of the day continuously crying — a severe mood swing because of this beautiful “spring” day. I have felt significantly more depressed than I am on a “normal” day. I feel unmotivated, irritable, annoyed, disgusted with myself and absolutely exhausted.

It likely doesn’t help that my boyfriend and I just celebrated our first year together this weekend — a big deal, mind you, coming from someone who has borderline personality disorder (BPD) — and I had to say goodbye to him until the end of April. But I’m usually really good about identifying where my mood swings come from and what causes them.

I can confidently tell you I am the most depressed I have been in a while, all because today was so beautiful.

It all sounds silly, really. Many people like me, who are depressed all year round, will experience seasonal affective disorder (SAD), meaning their moods significantly decrease based on seasonal changes. However, most people experience this as summer turns into fall and winter. I am the opposite, and have always experienced it when winter turns into spring. I know it isn’t spring quite yet, but because today was the first spring-looking day, my mood took a dump.

When I arrived home from dropping Shane off at the airport, I was exhausted and really wanted a good nap. I have a river flowing in front of my house and the cutest fairy tale windows that push outward. So, I opened my windows so I could fall asleep to the running water. I barely fell asleep and woke up almost immediately after. I suddenly became extremely emotional. The sun was shining and the birds were chirping and I was in my cozy little house. I should have felt very inspired to write. It was the perfect day for it.

Nope.

Instead, I experienced this mood swing. I got unbelievably pissed off at myself for spending the day in bed on a day like today. This happens every year, on a day specific to this. The first spring-looking day, I become more depressed than my usual.

I’m sure many of you live “normal,” independent lives. You can go out whenever you please, you can go out wherever you please, and don’t have any second thoughts. I am unable to do any of that. I must be accompanied by someone at all times whenever I leave my house, besides to go to work. I cannot even go for a walk up my half-mile-long driveway in fear that my landlord or neighbor, who both live nearby, will judge me for some silly reason. I have no idea what for, but my brain tells me there’s judgment of some kind out there and no matter who it is or where I’m at, someone is going to judge me or talk about me.

I would love to go sit outside and read a good book or go for a walk. I would absolutely love to enjoy beautiful days like this, but I can’t. I don’t know how to do that. I get so depressed, thinking about the fact I can’t enjoy what other people enjoy solely because my brain is (excuse my language) a piece of shit. I know that sounds very negative, but I have established through therapy that it’s basically what my brain is, and it’s OK to call it that as long as I can learn to accept my brain is different from everyone else’s and try to do what I can to fix it or improve it. However, I have yet to do the final step. So, for now, that’s what I will continue to call it because being able to express that helps me feel better about having an abnormal brain. I’ve learned how to express myself through therapy, and that is how I express myself when it comes to conversations about my own brain.

My brain doesn’t do what everyone else’s does. It doesn’t function the way everyone else’s does, and it doesn’t function the way I would hope it would or want it to. That’s not an excuse as to why I can’t enjoy days like today. It’s science.

I have been extremely emotional since I woke up from my short nap. Every little thing is making me cry. Every little thing is annoying me. I’m irritated that I can’t live like everyone else, which in turn makes me pissed off at everything. So, I take my anger and frustration out on everything else.

It’s only been a few years since I’ve taken great notice in my moods changing with the seasons. My psychiatrist and I only noticed it a few years ago. Looking back though, I have been like this for a very long time. Since becoming aware of it, I have done my best to try to prepare myself for the mood swings and overwhelming amount of emotions that come with winter coming to a halt.

So far, I have yet to be able to prepare myself for it. I mean it when I say it gets bad. I feel almost as if I’m going to have a panic attack because of the overwhelming amount of emotions. My body goes through all kinds of temperature changes due to the excessive crying, and I feel shaky and nauseous. I have racing thoughts inside my head that literally scream at me, convincing me of how much of an “idiot” I am and how “stupid” I could be for not being able to enjoy a beautiful day like today. They’re screaming at me, telling me how much I hate myself and despise my own brain and the way it doesn’t function.

I always feel discouraged and extremely alone when I get on Facebook this time of the year and see everyone talking about how they can’t wait for summer. For me, my happier time of the year is ending, and I have to endure feeling miserable for months until fall begins to set in. I haven’t written about this topic before, because it seems as though each time I express to someone how much I despise summer and the heat and the concept of the sun constantly being out and the long days full of so much sunlight, they laugh at me. They literally think I’m joking. And I have no idea why — maybe because I’m the first person who has ever said that to them. They’ve probably never heard it before.

But it makes me feel so alone. When I Googled images related to SAD to use as a possible cover image, nearly every single one of them shows the disorder happening from summer to winter, not winter to spring and summer. That is discouraging in itself. Part of the reason why I’m able to keep pushing through mental illness, in general, is the fact that so many people relate to me. No one likes to feel alone, and I no longer feel alone in my journey of struggling with it. However, there are specific times when I do — not many, but there are some. This is one of those times. I’m the only person I know who feels like this. It makes me feel more different and abnormal than I already am because of mental illness alone. The fact that everyone laughs at me, thinks I’m joking and doesn’t take me seriously makes me curl up and go into my hole, where I don’t express how I’m feeling to anyone.

So, if anyone reading this is like me in this aspect, please give me a holler or reach out to me so I know I’m not alone, and maybe so you don’t feel like you’re alone in it either.

Follow this journey on the author’s blog.

Photo by Emily Leake on Unsplash