on SAD.

November 21, 2014

10151871_10101784149367385_6481340408108722544_nPlease allow me to qualify something: I have seasonal affective disorder, also known as SAD. It’s a thing. A  real thing. I know a lot of us are not fans of the snow, and the cold, and the early sunsets … it can wear on anyone. But those with SAD understand that the dreary and cloudy skies of winter are accompanied by figuratively cloudy skies in ones mind and heart that linger through these months of less sunshine.

I’ve noticed my writing, both in my personal journal as well as the work I am producing for this blog, are beginning to have a common theme. Feeling down, or in a funk, and discontent. Just an all around haze.

The reality of feeling like this for the next four, five or six months (come on, this is Michigan people!) is daunting. It is dismal and discouraging and lonely. None of us have the power to just WILL ourselves through times of sadness, or serious and real bouts with depression and mental illness. I do believe, though, there are tools and resources to help us manage our feelings and thoughts through these dark and dreary days.

I do not claim to be a mental health professional, and I surely cannot speak to what others are feeling, but I’ve found helpful practices that work for me, and hopefully could be an encouragement to my fellow SADers. (this is not an exhaustive list, but I figured I’d start somewhere).

1. As I mentioned before, running works great for me because I enjoy that medium of being active. But, some days the winter weather wins and leaves me stuck in my house. So what is a girl to do? DANCE! Yes, dance. I started this practice during a particularly cold and awful winter when we lived in Indiana a few years back, and it has become a winter staple. It is almost a daily ritual around here during the chilly months. I crank up Justin Timberlake radio on Spotify, and I DANCE. Not just a little either … because if I only dance for a couple songs, I do not reach that blissful state where you’ve worked yourself into a place of not caring what your body is doing or how foolish you may look. So I dance until I sweat. Or lately, until Leo has had enough and decides to wreak havoc by emptying my kitchen cupboards or throwing toys in the toilet.

2. Stepping outside of myself. One of the things that contributes to my particular haze is selfishness. I feel down and therefore I focus on all the things I do not like about my life or me. Anything from the number on the scale to wishing I could write and publish a book. The whole spectrum of self-loathing. Which is horribly unproductive.To combat this, I practice stepping outside of myself. It only takes about 30 seconds to list at least 20 REAL problems that are affecting not only people close to me, but also the masses. I am not saying this because I think my feelings of insecurity or sadness are invalid; it is more than okay to feel what you feel … getting stuck there is a whole different story. So, I step outside of myself and I think of others and what they are facing. How they must be feeling. How big the world is and how many heart-breaking things happen that I do not understand. I think about these things to gain perspective. And then, I pray. I pray for those around me dealing with high-risk pregnancies, or the loss of a loved one. I pray for world crisis, like the Ebola virus or the horrible reality of how many people are affected by the word cancer. I pray about how thankful I am for who I am and what I have. I’m not perfect at this, but every time I practice this discipline, it opens me up in a way that makes me feel less affected by the trivial day to day stressers that can bog me down and contribute to the fog.

3. Finally, I soak up the sun. Literally, not figuratively. I soak up those few moments of sunshine that come every now and again. I either get outside and run in it, or simply stand in front of the window in my living room, with the curtain parted, and I close my eyes and feel the warmth for a minute. This just helps.


By the way, this post is more for me than anyone else. I was spirally down and thinking that anything I had to say or write would be crap (and maybe it is). I am also especially perturbed that my husband is currently meeting for the first time and having lunch with my HERO, Shauna Niequist (his job is so cool, he has no idea! Also, more on Shauna in a different post soon). So I needed to get out on paper the things that I know can help to lift my spirits. This is my attempt at self-accountability.

So please, please bear with me as I describe the ebon flow of dealing with this season. AND even more, let me know the tools and resources that you’ve found helpful to navigate and manage these dreary days.

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