Seasonal Affective Disorder

Cloudy red sunset

When the Sun Sets, the Sadness Rises

Couple more hours ’till 7pm… The sun approaches 5pm and your sadness is thriving. You scratch your head wondering why this repeats year after year. You hate the darkness; it makes the day feel shorter. A shorter day means less time to have fun. Less fun means more isolation. More isolation attracts sadness. Feeling sad means you’re in a rotten state of mind again. And the pattern only continues as fall progresses into winter. Once winter arrives, you pray that you can see spring again; or at least people with seasonal affective disorder do.

The key to avoiding sadness is learning how to be positive regardless of changes in your environment. You don’t have control over what happens around you, but you have control over your mind. It’s when you lose control of your mind that you become most susceptible to outside forces. And when this happens, you become an easy target. In this case, time is the outside force. As fall approaches, it gets darker out earlier in the evening. When winter arrives, 4:20pm becomes your last hit before the darkness settles in at 5pm.

White woman suffering from seasonal affective disorder, standing outside in snow

So What is Seasonal Affective Disorder?

SAD is a depressive disorder that causes people to become sad during seasons with shorter daylight hours. In addition, less sunlight during the winter months also contributes to symptoms such as fatigue, sadness, weight gain, loss of interest in activities, etc. The most common months to experience SAD are January and February. Other symptoms may include:

  • Craving carbohydrates
  • Hypersomnia
  • Loss of energy
  • Pacing and the inability to sit still
  • Feeling worthless
  • Difficulty thinking
  • Suicidal thoughts

The disorder usually starts between the ages of 18 and 30. Treatment involves light therapy, antidepressants and/or psychotherapy. SAD goes away during spring and summer, but therapy and medications help alleviate the symptoms sooner. Seasonal affective disorder occurs due to a biochemical imbalance in your brain, believed to be caused by shorter daylight hours and less sunlight. It’s unknown why some people experience SAD and others do not. It definitely does not help if you live in a location that lacks sufficient sunny days during the year.

What is your experience with SAD? If any, what have you found to be helpful?

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Feeling Sad for No Reason

Sad woman in black cardigan near trees

See Where Sadness Takes You

Don’t hide from your sadness; see where it takes you. Observe how it makes you feel and what thoughts it brings to the surface. We all tend to shy away from sadness and use the unconscious, immature defense mechanism known as denial. We all tend to carry on like sadness is “Not for me.” But it is for you! You have to stare sadness in the eye and tell it, “You’re back. What are you going to teach me this time?” Feeling sad for no reason is not a thing. There is always a reason as to why you’re feeling sad; you just have to discover it.

Sadness should not bring you embarrassment; it happens for a reason. Your job is to find out the reason and learn from it. If you suppress your sadness, do you think it’ll go away? Maybe only temporarily. Suppression means that you are consciously moving a negative emotion or thought into your unconscious mind. This prevents you from experiencing the negative emotion or thought. But oftentimes, it comes back out at a later date, causing you to feel sad again.

White woman feeling sad for no reason

Feeling Sad for No Reason – There is Always a Reason

Many people don’t want to learn about the reasons behind their sadness. It’s easier to suppress your thoughts or medicate yourself with substances. Many people drink alcohol, smoke cannabis or consume hard drugs to counteract their sadness. Drugs are great tools for alleviating sadness, but they only work temporarily. Once you come down from the high, the sadness resurfaces, sometimes even more powerfully. Don’t be afraid to seek the reasons behind your sadness.

When you’re feeling sad, this is a sign that something needs to change in your life. I know it’s not easy to make changes when feeling sad, but it’s worth it. Sitting there and feeling sad all day long does not accomplish anything. You need to be honest with yourself and discover the reasons behind your sadness. But also just discovering the reasons is not sufficient. You need to implement the necessary changes to avoid feeling sad again. If you’re lonely, then make the effort to be social and meet up with people. If you’re drinking too much, make the effort to cut down on the booze. There is always something that you can improve on that will prevent you from feeling sad again.

You just have to seek, implement and change.

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Nobody Cares Work Harder

Red brick wall with live, work, create quote

Whenever you find yourself complaining about the difficulty of your job, remind yourself, “nobody cares, work harder.” After training your mind to work hard over many years, you start deriving pleasure from the process. Anyone would prefer to relax and not have to work for a living if they had the opportunity, but even then, happiness is not guaranteed. Hard work has the potential to bring you satisfaction which often translates into happiness. But you must balance your hard work with free time and leisure activities. If it’s all work but no play, then happiness will fly away.

Whenever you are experiencing those long grueling days at work, remind yourself that you are not the only one going through them. Happiness will be your reward before your turn off the lights at night. But you must enjoy what you do. This cannot be reiterated enough. If you went to college and are now working a job you dislike, somewhere along the way you made a mistake. Rather than continuing to devote the rest of your life to something you don’t enjoy, make a change today. You control your present which influences your future.

Nobody cares work harder blue neon sign on wall

Nobody Cares Work Harder and Stop Complaining

A common mistake many people make is complaining a lot about their job. The complaints are endless and often quickly pile up. One of them is that their job or schoolwork is too difficult and demanding. Nobody cares work harder! People don’t care about the process; they are only impressed with the results. In reality, the results don’t matter that much. What matters is the hard work you clocked in for many years to achieve those results. Why don’t people care about your hard work? Because it’s not attractive. They don’t want to hear about your complaints. People want to see the fancy cars and flashy clothes that your hard work earned you.

Besides luck which cannot be depended on, the solution to getting impressive results in life is working harder. No one can put in the work for you; only you can do it. So stop complaining and work harder. Don’t forget to also keep your dreams alive. Dreams provide the sugar that keeps your work effort bitterly sweet. Without some occasional sugar, your hard work becomes dull. Don’t make the mistake of working hard without dreaming. I like to remind myself of this formula:

60% hard work + 40% dreams = 100% success

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Peaceful Life

White man sitting on blue pillow meditating

A peaceful life matters a lot. Once you learn how to carry yourself with peace and comfort, life becomes much more enjoyable. Practicing living in peace and comfort is not an easy task for many people. Life circumstances, negative emotions and even mental illness often get in the way. But once you learn how to harness peace, your days will progress more smoothly, helping you achieve a happy state of mind. But when you lose touch with your inner peace is when your days become inflicted with pain and misery.

So how do you go about instilling a peaceful state of mind? The key is to slow things down by absorbing every moment of your waking state. A lot of us feel rushed and tempted to power through work and activities, forgetting how to relax. Powering through the day gives us a sense of accomplishment, but at the expensive of our mental health. Instead, you want to slow down your perception of doing things while preserving the quality of your work. This can be done by practicing mindfulness and learning how to enjoy being present in the moment.

White woman practicing a peaceful life near blue water

A Peaceful Life for Your Mental Health

Imagine all the people living life in peace! No more temptations to do each other wrong. Life would involve unconditional love and envy would cease to exist. Rather than feeling rushed, your perception of time would disappear; life would just be. You would no longer feel rushed to get done with work and get back home. Instead, you would cherish every moment of life while bathing in a peaceful state of mind. People would no longer make fun of each other because peace would overcome insecurity.

Now the above describes a fictional scenario but the point is that peace can bring you comfort. But the question is how do we obtain peace? With today’s hectic society, it sometimes feels impossible to find peace. As I mentioned above and in many previous articles, practicing mindfulness is key. The difficult part is not the actual mindfulness; it’s easy to sit and just think. I personally find that the most challenging part is getting myself to sit down and actually doing it. Right when the thought of mindfulness comes to my mind, I think, “but it’s so boring!”

If you can overcome that initial resistance that prevents you from doing mindfulness, then you’re golden. Once you sit down and get in that moment of mindfulness, the act is not difficult. You tap into a peaceful state of mind and become one with the present moment. You learn how to disconnect from your environment and focus on your inner thoughts and emotions. Once you practice mindfulness enough, you’ll start to notice that things don’t bother you as much. You’ll realize that your resilience and tolerance to stress and adverse outcomes improve. And once you overcome stress, your mental health also improves.

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Influenced by the Environment

White man with arrows pointing to head

Everything regarding the way you interpret reality stems from the most important organ in your presence: the brain. How you think and view the world is based on your personality and interpretation of your surroundings. If you can match your personality with an accurate portrait of society, then you will experience a more realistic experience. But once you allow your mind to be influenced by outside forces, you become more susceptible to programming or the manipulation of your mind. You become influenced by the environment to your detriment.

So take what you can from society that is still good and add it to your arsenal. But always remember that it’s your mind that is most precious; keep outside forces in check. Protect your mind for it roams openly in a dangerous land, ready to be attacked by invisible forces. These invisible forces do not care for your sanity. As a matter of fact, they prefer that you join the sheep and obey without questioning. When you ask less questions, you make it easier for them to control you. Their ultimate goal is to control the masses because it makes them feel superior, as if they are God. But they will never be God.

Influenced by the environment - skull with brain experiencing waves of butterfly effects

How do you Know if you’re Influenced by the Environment?

If you believe everything you hear or read in the mainstream media, then you’re being influenced. Of course, almost no one will admit to “believing everything” they hear in the media. “Everything” is obviously an exaggeration. When I say everything, I mean generally being in agreement with what is televised on a daily basis. Many people are glued to CNN, Fox News or BBC without questioning what they see or hear. They were quick to stick out their arms for new mRNA vaccines as soon as they were released to the public. Many don’t question the fact that the vaccines came out within a year or that mRNA vaccines were released during a pandemic out of all times.

Why don’t people question? Because they put too must trust in their government and find it easier to trust a large entity than small sources. They believe that if they start listening to small sources, they will be labeled as a “conspiracy theorist.” Little do they know that the CIA supposedly invented the conspiracy theory tactic. They did this as a form of protection from the masses seeking the truth. But hiding the truth from a population of 7.9 billion is impossible; it will always leak. So as a form of insurance, they created a psychological tactic that labels the truth-finders as “nut jobs,” with the mainstream media as their pawns.

I’m not saying that you need to become a conspiracy theorist. Just keep an open mind to alternative stories and explanations, because the truth always lurks somewhere in the middle. Think outside the box.

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Cannabis Addiction

Cannabis leaf artwork

Being natural is normal. Being you without any exogenous chemicals is normal. But when you use a substance to get high while hiding behind the excuse, “it makes me normal,” then something is clearly wrong. No drug can make you normal. People want to see the real you and if you’re saying that drugs make you normal, then there is something that you’re doing wrong. Cannabis addiction is notorious for making users believe that the high makes the normal.

Drugs were never created to make you feel normal. There are many arguments behind the creation of drugs, but almost everyone will agree that drugs are not a replacement of your personality. If your personality is changing while experimenting with a drug, then please stop using the drug. If anything good is to be observed from drugs, it’s perhaps their great ability to make you more creative, allow you to think outside the box and relax more efficiently. But your personality must remain congruent with these drug-induced states, or else you’re allowing the drug to mold your personality into someone you’re not.

Breaking bad cannabis addiction chemistry sign

Cannabis Addiction is Real

Many people are still under the impression that you can’t get addicted to cannabis. Many uneducated people continue to push the line, “weed hasn’t killed anyone.” Cannabis addiction has nothing to do with deaths. Drugs such as cocaine, meth, MDMA and PCP can lead to deaths, but cannabis is not one of them. What cannabis shares in common with all other drugs is the potential for psychological addiction. The fact that cannabis doesn’t cause deaths is even more appealing to users. They believe, “if weed isn’t that bad, then why not keep using it?”

The physical safety net of cannabis acts like a reinforcer for people to keep using the drug. The more a person uses, the more they need to consume to get a similar high. This is because their mind, at the receptor and neurotransmitter level, becomes desensitized to the THC; it needs more of it to feel as high as before. So the user consumes more or spends more money on a higher quality product, until they become tolerant to the new dose. In addition, with practice comes perfection. A user will also learn how to more effectively function under a high state of mind, motivating them to consume the drug in different situations.

Overall, the idea of cannabis addiction is something to keep in the back of your mind if you’re a regular user. Reminding yourself of this possibility can help you regulate your intake, especially if you find yourself toking more. There is no shame in catching yourself smoking more and having to cut back down. Your mental health comes first; having fun always comes second.

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Cannabis Legal States

Green and orange marijuana buds

Boy was that an election! Donald Trump never stopped being the president and Joe Biden’s mental status likely confused him regarding his election win. But guess who has been impressively standing on stage this entire time delivering the most useful message? Marijuana was recreationally legalized in the states of New Jersey, Arizona, South Dakota and Montana this year. Mississippi came in big by legalizing medical marijuana. It seems that with each passing year, cannabis is gaining more supporters who are pro-legalization. This will lead to more cannabis legal states.

The science remains young and we don’t have enough evidence to conclude any long-term health benefits or adverse effects. But we have reached a point where criminalizing cannabis users is no longer sensical. I mean, going to prison for possession of marijuana? That sounds very archaic. Remember, that even though marijuana is being legalized, should not mean that we become naive to its potential mental health side effects such as anxiety, psychological addiction or even psychosis.

Cannabis legal states - drawing of woman holding hair next to cannabis leaves

Are Cannabis Legal States the Future?

I predict that the United States will legalize cannabis in all fifty states within the next ten years. The people want it legalized, it’s no longer taboo to indulge and it’s great as a stress reliever. Not everyone enjoys drinking a glass of wine to unwind. Some people prefer to take a hit of a vape pen or consume an edible and call it a night. As long as cannabis is used in moderation and you’re not experiencing any mental health symptoms, it should be fine to use. The only thing going against cannabis at the present time is that we lack the science behind long-term side effects. But with ongoing clinical research trials, we will have those answers within the next 5-10 years as well.

Cannabis legalization is here to stay.

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Talking About Mental Health

Selective focus photography of hand holding crystal ball

Planet Zer0

Imagine a world where mental health does not exist; let’s call it Planet 0. In this society, there is no recognition of depression, anxiety, psychosis, eating disorders, ADHD, tic disorders, drug addiction, etc. If you suffer from a disorder of the mind, you are considered “weird,” “abnormal,” “strange” or “other-worldly.” In this world, if you have a mental illness, you are ostracized from society; you have to find your way back home because you are not getting into this circle. In this world, talking about mental health is not an option.

Talking about mental health - old man with dementia laying in bed

Talking About Mental Health is Not an Option

People who commit suicide are viewed as weak; “he would have never made it anyways” is the mentality. Drug addicts are considered the scum of the earth on Planet 0. Suffering or even worse, dying, is celebrated by the masses. Psychotic people are one of the most feared and despised. Governments all around the world are considering passing a law to allow citizens to shoot at a psychotic person if they feel threatened.

Essentially, humanity on Planet 0 does not want to have anything to do with mental health. If you are feeling down, your family warns you to get yourself together. Your friends start to lose interest in you if you’re suffering from anxiety. If you are feeling insecure, your significant other is expected to leave you. If you are hallucinating, society no longer knows of you. Psychiatric medications are for lab rats. If you’re even heard of having some medications in your home, your landlord has the right by law to evict you.

In this society, people prefer to be free of mental illness, but do not want to address it. The stigma of mental health is sky-high. Laws are being considered to prevent pharmaceutical companies from creating psychiatric medications. Pharmacies are considering banning psychiatric medications. The suicide rate is on the rise and over 60% of the population is depressed. But society doesn’t care. They view mental illness as a plague and want to wash it off the face of the hearth.

Why do we talk about mental health?

So we can avoid experiencing any sort of stigma that slightly touches or resembles Planet 0.

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Keep Chasing Your Dreams

Keep chasing your dreams - live, laugh, love inspirational quote

It’s Not All About Hard Work

Everything starts with your dreams and imagination. What’s the point of working hard if you don’t know why you’re working hard in the first place? What’s the point of endless hours of devotion if all that hard work is not aligned with your dreams? Do you even have dreams? If you’re stuck and don’t know where you’re headed, then start with your dreams. Keep chasing your dreams and you won’t regret the process looking back in the future.

Whenever you become down in life and hopeless that your future is over, remind yourself of your dreams. Allow your dreams to fill you with power, motivation and inspiration. Every time you feel derailed off your path to success, use your dreams to get you back on track. You’ll encounter many moments of discouragement, disappointments and even failures, but it’s how you get yourself back up that matters the most. Use your dreams as an anchor to prevent you from falling too many times; to prevent you from drowning.

Keep chasing your dreams - man walking towards wooden bridge during winter

Keep Chasing Your Dreams – There is No Other Option

A life without dreams is a life without substance. You can have the best job in the world, but if the process and experience are meaningless, then you’re likely lacking dreams. Keep in mind that a great job does not equate to a great dream. You can use your family, intelligence, education and connections to land a great job. But to land a great dream, you need to use your imagination. No human can provide you with that if you refuse to utilize that part of the brain to begin with.

Ok so you have a dream. Now what? The next important thing to remember is to never allow failures to throw you off course. We’ve all experienced failures and had to get back up and restart the process. The restarting part is the most difficult, especially after you put so much work in and still failed. I mean, why keep trying right? Wrong. If you stop trying, then that’s when your dreams start wilting. You have to keep watering your dreams and get ’em back up strong. Once you recover from the failure at hand, about 2-3 weeks later, you feel back on a roll and continue the journey to success.

The formula is simple: 40% hard work + 60% dreams = success

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Think Outside The Box

Person wearing brown cardboard box making peace sign

The Box Will Always Be Full

How long will you keep ignoring your inner urge to seek the truth? Even when you’re presented with tad bits of revelations, you rewind back to your comfort zone of trusting your present reality, as if somehow it were the accurate narrative. This is your psychological defense mechanism hardwired into your mind. Sometimes defense mechanisms have to be severed to evolve as a human being. The alternative is continuing in your present state of mind, which may not be satisfactory or purposeful to your growth. You have to think outside the box.

Many people never leave the box because they never think to do so, don’t care enough, don’t know how to or leave but quickly return back to their comfort zone. Let’s provide an example: ever since you were born, you have been surrounded by authority figures. These figures have included your parents, the educational system and the government. When in the world have you ever been alone and free?

It’s no wonder that every time you attempt to leave the box, you start to experience psychological discomfort and come running back telling yourself, “I have trust in our government, I have trust in the system, I have to trust the process.” As it has already been said, the box will always be full, but are you willing to leave square one and upgrade, perhaps even exponentially, to higher pyramidal levels?

Think outside the box - human head with open window in head

Think Outside The Box – The Upgrade

So how do you go about thinking outside the box? Start by changing your outlook on life by implementing a curious state of mind. Think of a child who explores their environment, asks many questions and tries new activities. You have to find that childish side of you again and tap into it. The beauty about that childish state of mind is that it allows you to develop a lot of curiosity and imagination. This will open you up to new sources of information that can provide you with truth, alternative views on reality and newfound knowledge.

The next question is how do you tap into your childish state of mind? If you’re thinking about maturity, then no, you don’t have to become immature. A childish state of mind can be tapped into by desiring to be curious and exploring for new information. Many people aren’t curious to open up to new sources of information because they’re comfortable in their comfort zone. As I’ve previously written in another post, always staying in your comfort zone can hinder your growth. A comfort zone is safe but comfort does not always equate to growth. Oftentimes, comfort can hinder your growth by preventing you from trying new activities, talking to new people and opening up your mind to new sources of information.

The Execution

Now that you have successfully tapped into your childish state of mind, it’s time to continue your exploration. Thinking outside the box is not only about exploring new sources of information. You also have to be curious to study human behavior. Pay attention to your surroundings and observe the interactions of people in your environment. Notice how they dress, exchange words, converse and pay attention to their body language. Much useful information can be gathered from your surroundings that can help you evolve. Studying human behavior makes you smarter and sharper by expanding your emotional intelligence.

Emotional intelligence is important to have because excellent communication skills can open up new doors for you. By getting good at studying body language, you can place yourself in a great position when conversing with people. This will allow you to know how to interact with them so that you can get the best outcome of the situation you find yourself in. Some may ask, “doesn’t everyone already do this?” No, many people don’t pay attention to human behavior; they are too stuck in their mental bubble. As a result, they don’t get as much out of their encounters with others, missing potential opportunities for improvement.

Think Outside The Box – The Maintenance

You see, thinking outside the box is a mindset that you have to work at if it doesn’t already come naturally. Some people like myself developed a psychological lens since childhood (check out the learn more about me section). But even then, I must still keep working at maintaining this state of mind. We are so influenced by society, that it’s very easy to crawl back in the box and forget about expanding our consciousness. Now you can imagine that this can be a challenge for those who don’t naturally think outside the box. In other words, your aim should be to always think outside the box; make it a permanent mindset.

You must also be careful with the news sources that you rely on to get your information. While mainstream media provides you with the most juicy pictures and stories, much of that information may also have a twist or agenda. These twists and hidden agendas can easily influence you to remain inside the box. You end up becoming comfortable with what’s presented to you and no longer care to explore more independent news sources. You start to believe what is presented to you without even asking questions or doing your research. When this happens, your mind becomes captured by your environment and prevents you from thinking outside the box.

The Wrap-up

In conclusion, to think outside the box requires you to reunite with your childish state of mind. Once tapped into it, you must continuously work at executing this mindset by practicing curiosity, studying your surroundings and playing with your imagination. Lastly, you must make an effort to maintain this mindset by being careful with your surroundings and preventing outside influences from keeping you trapped in the box. I have no timeframe for how long this can last, but my recommendation is to maintain this mindset for life. You will only continue to grow and learn more about yourself and your surroundings. Growth will bring you satisfaction, happiness and a desire to further expand your consciousness.

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)