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?

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

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.

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Feeling Sad

Picture-of-abstract-face

Borderline State of Mind

Feeling sad

The pain comes in rapidly

Unexpectedly it flows into your vicinity

Like a swallowed pill kicking in at the bottom of the hour

You’re taking another raincheck

You don’t know what to believe anymore

Do you allow the sadness to storm over

Or do you take control and roar

The truth is that you have to battle your way

Life wants to test, trick or tease you

It’s up to you to be aware and react accordingly

Letting it swivel you around won’t bring you goods accordingly

Take control in the moment

Implement positive seeds, sprouting positive deeds

But even doing that tilts you at an unease

There’s a war on your mind

Mental illness is like a savage in the wild

A stranger that wants to make you uneasy

Can you spot it before it makes you uneasy?

Is this really a borderline state of mind?

Or only a test of time?

Feeling Sad: A Test of Time

What if sadness is a test of time?

Once you cross the finish-line

Your sadness dissipates

Instantaneously it evaporates

You wonder what changed

While celebrating your victory

There is no more shame

Was this all a test of time?

Riding it out till the end

You experienced some pain

And now your spent

Life has pulled away its chains

You’re now free to explore happiness for a change

Is this too good to be true?

You might wake up tomorrow again feeling blue

Have some confidence you tell yourself

Insecurity might reel in sadness mixed with hell

Sad white woman sitting next to window staring outside

Feeling Sad: Moving Forward

It’s been weeks since you last felt sad

Maybe it was a test of time

You’re glad

You take advantage of the situation

You’re moving forward

You’re finally content

This situation can never end

You’re optimism is blowing up

You’re nowhere near spent

Your mind is high on life

You never want it to end

Where was this state of mind the last couple of decades?

Let’s hope this never ends

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Feeling sad smiley GIF face

Marinating in Sadness

Woman in black dress wearing brown bag on head with sad face

Cooking Yourself Alive

Marinating in sadness is nothing new to you

You need lubrication to get unstuck from the glue

The alcohol uses your veins as a rollercoaster ride

And you sadness remains empty because it was never full

Alcohol alleviates the pain but it’s only a game

You come crashing down soon after like rain

The ride never seems to end

You just start all over as if stuck in quicksand

Therefore what’s left to do besides marinate in sadness

You’re paralyzed on the couch

Your bedroom on your mind

You stare out the window slow as time

The world is moving forward and you’re stuck

If only you can ride that rainbow like Daffy Duck

You rely on drugs for hope and inspiration

But you come crashing down quickly

Your sadness was always out of luck

People want to get to know you

But you lost interest in them before they even met you

You give them a chance

However you’re already bored

They don’t think outside the box

They’re too manipulated by what they’re told

Seeking self-comfort seems like the only option at times

Peace of mind and solitude eases the painful obstacles of the mind

Can you relate to what I am saying or is this just a facade?

Think about it again because by tomorrow you probably forgot

Sad Hispanic woman lying on chair crying

Marinating in Sadness: What Tomorrow Brings

Marinating in sadness into the evening

Tomorrow might be different

Striving away from sinking

This evening your mind falls deeper into quicksand

You’re buried alive and lose touch with reality

Sleep has overtaken you

Now it’s tomorrow and find yourself alive

How can this be?

I thought I died

So you didn’t die because tomorrow opened your eyes

And you sadness is gone

That’s right

The quicksand was a portal for your mind

You’re feeling better

Sadness has been left behind

Are you ready for what tomorrow brings?

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Marinating in sadness winking GIF face

Feeling Lonely Today

Lonely, sad man sitting in front of white projector screen

The Battle Known as Loneliness

Feeling lonely today again

The pain harbors in the center of your chest

The empty corners of your room remain isolated

People come and go

Yet you remain in the same place

Isolated with pain and arrested in shame

Is it your fault you constantly ask yourself

Or is it destiny observing the cards you were dealt with?

Whatever the reason may be

Your loneliness eats you alive

The weekends are worse, the weekdays you manage by

How does one exit this trap called loneliness?

Do you accept like a prisoner and hope for the best?

Counting down the days till you can hold someone abreast

Feeling Lonely Today: Yes, so are The Rest of Us

But do you care if others are lonely?

You’re suffering and that’s all that matters

Sure you care about others

But your problems scream louder

You want to connect but you can’t

The block is real

You try harder and harder

But the block is steel

So you do your best riding the wave

It can hit unexpectedly

You don’t want to crash and burn

That can hit unexpectedly

Some days the waves are calm

Others you’re riding the ocean’s roar

Falling down comes around one too many times

Whoever said loneliness was painless?

Lonely woman staring at sunset

The Portion of Pain

Emotional pain is a psychological state of mind

It hits you now

You get better

Then does a complete rewind

Just when you thought you were in the clear

The illness swarms back to steal your steer

Maybe we should embrace the pain

An opportunity to gain

If instead you complain

You persist the pain down a long vein

Learning remains the goal

The agenda to evolve through soul

God guides you if you believe

To the top you can go

And you will achieve

Trust the process

Maintain the faith

God will show you which way

All day.

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Feeling lonely today GIF smiley face

Negative People’s Characteristics

Attractive bitter white woman with breast cleavage staring down

We’re all surrounded by negative people’s characteristics. Some of them are our friends, family members or coworkers. At what point do you draw the line and stop interacting with them? Many times, we love these people and find them funny, entertaining, attractive and fun to be around, but their negative temperament often causes you to feel sad. It’s very important to keep this in mind because who you surround yourself with influences your thoughts, behavior and expressions. Being around negative people for too long will slowly turn you into a negative person as well.

Negative people's characteristics: angry white man wearing hoodie with folded arms

Negative People’s Characteristics: Bitter, Pessimistic and Rigid

To feel bitter is to feel angry, hurt, or resentful because of one’s bad experiences or a sense of unjust treatment. When someone has had many bad experiences in their past and has not properly dealt with them, they become bitter. This is a defense mechanism that attempts to prevent them from experiencing more bad experiences in the future. Rather than learning from their bad experiences and moving on, they can’t properly process them and remain angry instead. So when you run into them, you can’t help but to experience their bitterness.

To be pessimistic is to see the worst aspect of things or believe that the worst will happen. Again, this stems from many bad experiences in their past to the point that they have lost hope for the future. This is another defense mechanism that attempts to protect them by expecting the worst. If you expect the worst, your mind is not surprised if a bad outcome does result. It almost becomes an automatic process to be pessimistic unless you point it out to someone and help them to change.

To be rigid is to be inflexible in your communication, interactions and behavior. People can also be inflexible in their thought process and how they approach situations. While rigidity may be a personality trait from birth, I believe it has a lot to do with your upbringing. Your relationship with your parents and/or siblings along with early school experiences play a role in your rigidity. Some children experience a lot of bullying and end up developing rigidity as a protective defense mechanism; they’re protecting themselves from more future negative interactions.

Negative people's characteristics GIF smiley face

Comparing Yourself to Others

Social media images of people smiling

We all make the mistake to assume that others are happier than us just because they’re doing activities that sound fun. You are constantly comparing yourself to others which can be toxic for your mental health. This is especially true if you’re constantly putting yourself down while believing that others are living the life. Even if they are living fancy lives, what does this have to do with you? You waste so much energy magnifying their life instead of using it to improve yours.

Stop Comparing Yourself to Others

People have always compared themselves to others since the beginning of time. Physical comparisons focus on musculature, height and beauty. Material comparisons focus on wealth, cars, clothes and homes. People even compare their character traits by trying to emulate others. They love those who display humor, are the center of attention, attract attention from the opposite sex and demonstrate leadership. But the worst of them all is social media comparisons; people do it unconsciously.

What do I mean by unconscious social media comparisons? Take for instance Instagram, where you can find thousands of images on beauty and materialism. Some people will open the app every day and admire the lives of others that they don’t have. But rather than admiring them in a good way, they sit there feeling down because they lack the beauty and wealth which they see on the screen. This causes them to feel insecure and sad and results in a loss of confidence. I say this is an unconscious process because many people don’t realize that it’s the images that are making them feel down. They just keep looking at them day after day.

Comparing yourself to others: eyes with colors of Google logo

The Solution

Be comfortable with your physical traits and what you have. Start practicing gratitude and stop focusing on what you wish you had. There’s a difference between dreaming and seeking and comparing yourself to others. Dreaming is coming from your healthy, motivated side of your mind, while comparisons come from your insecure part of your mind. Why are you tapping into the secure portion of your mind? Let go and stop connecting with it. Focus on being thankful, practicing gratitude and keeping yourself inspired with awesome dreams.

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Mental Pain

Topless sad woman holding head down with both hands

Positive Affirmation: I am Free of Mental Pain

“I am free of mental pain because I have learned to manage my negative emotions and redirect my attention on the positive things in life. When I feel sad, I allow the pain to surface without any hesitation; fighting back only causes the pain to persist. I give my pain room to breath but I do not identify with it because it is not really mine. The pain just comes and goes like passing gray clouds in the sky above. Just as I cannot feel the clouds in the sky but just observe them, the same applies to my emotional pain. I can’t physically touch my pain but I can observe it from the sidelines. Just as I can’t make a storm go away, the same applies with my emotional pain. I let the pain take its course until it evaporates into the distance. I am free of pain because I have learned how to respect my mental health and take care of it every day!”

Mental pain - green anxiety logo

Chronic Pain

“My chronic mental pain haunts me every day, but I do my best to keep my head above water. I can’t always identify the source behind my pain, but that does not matter. As long as I do my best to stay positive, I am happily moving forward. My mental pain comes at random times. Sometimes it haunts me first thing in the morning, while other times it surprises me before bedtime. I cannot avoid my mental pain because it sporadically appears when it wants to. The only thing I can do is learn to live with it and be happy in the process. How do I stay happy? By practicing positive affirmations and reminding myself that pain is temporary; it always eventually goes away.”

“Pain does not define me. I am not my pain even though it tries to trick me. It can be deceiving too, sometimes manifesting as anxiety, depression or intrusive symptoms such as nightmares. Sometimes my pain makes me avoid certain people and places. I have to constantly fight back to set my pain in its place. It can be a challenge to interact with it, but I often overcome it. I am stronger than my pain and have gotten this far in life. I will continue to flourish despite knowing that my pain will revisit me in the future. No one can prevent me from being the master of my mind; pain is only an uninvited visitor. I am strong and courageous.

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Feeling Depressed

Feeling depressed - grayscale photo of depressed woman sitting next to window holding doll

When People Stomp All Over You

Many people are raised not to disobey their parents or argue back. As children, they fear their parent’s disapproval and do everything they can to appear perfect. As they slowly exit out of adolescence and enter the real world, they realize that their upbringing was not suitable for people outside their culture. They find themselves depressed because they care too much about what others think of them. They also don’t develop the strength to stand up for themselves; so they end up feeling depressed.

Your upbringing defines your adulthood to a great extent. It’s when you’re a child and adolescent that your personality is molded and shaped into your adult persona. If your personality is not well-shaped from a young age, you will experience relationship difficulties during your adulthood. When people stomp all over you, it means that you don’t have the courage nor strength to stand up for yourself.

You give others too much power and even turn them into authority figures, similarly to what you did with your parents growing up. When others make fun of you or point out your flaws, you become ashamed of yourself, internalizing and believing everything they say. Instead, you need to be standing up for yourself. You may experience what some like to call a “shutdown;” an episode of low energy, drive or motivation to do anything. You become a doormat with everyone walking on you.

Feeling depressed - sad women holding cup of coffee next to window

Feeling Depressed – It Doesn’t Have to Be This Way

Even though you have a job, raise children and are functional, your interaction with others limit your happiness. If people are nice and get along well with you, you find yourself having no problems. It’s only when those who argue back and critique you that you become frozen in time and don’t know how to react. You want to fight back, experiencing an internal desire to stand up for yourself and tell them, “Stop saying these things!” But sadly, you never learned how to do so growing up.

But it’s never too late! Psychotherapy is the process of analyzing your life and learning how to change your thoughts and behaviors. Anyone can benefit from psychodynamic/psychoanalytic therapy; you don’t need a mental illness to be qualified for therapy. If you find yourself in this category of persons who are functional but struggling with depression and problematic behaviors, then I highly recommend you start psychotherapy. You will not regret it.

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Stuck In A Sad Loop

Selective focus photography of sad woman surrounded by people in the street

The Same Things Every Day

How many of you feel tired of the same things happening every single day? No matter what you do, you feel like your life is repetitive as if you’re stuck in a sad loop that keeps playing over and over again. The worst part of this loop is that you have no idea how to get out of it. This loop is not necessarily bad, but it slowly eats away at your happiness because it prevents you from experiencing new people, places and things. You keep searching for a solution but end up no where new.

So what is the solution? You have to make a change. Any change; it doesn’t matter what it is. Change is the process of breaking old patterns and habits and instilling new ones. Change is the gasoline for your vehicle, in this case, your life. You are the driver of your life; not the other way around. You need to make a change and no one can tell you what that change is; you have to discover it for yourself.

Change is not always easy because we often hold ourselves back. We know what we have to do and change about ourselves, but we often don’t because we are comfortable with our present reality. See the irony? How can we be comfortable if we just admitted that we’re stuck in a sad loop? That’s the point! You’re stuck in a “comfortable sad loop” that is difficult for you to step out of.

Think of a hamster running back and forth on its wheel; that’s you in a nutshell! Many of us keep running on that wheel until we finally step off and realize that we’ve wasted five, ten, twenty or even thirty years of our lives. Don’t wait for tomorrow to make a change that you can make today! Even if making a change feels uncomfortable, force yourself to experience the discomfort. Oftentimes, once you get past the discomfort, you’ll experience a sense of satisfaction, something along the lines of, “I actually feel better now! Can’t believe this.”

We all go through this “sad loop” from time to time; it’s not something easy to escape from. But if you have the determination to step out of this sad loop and improve your life, then you are on the right track. But you have to make a change and only you can do it; no one can do it for you. We can each give advice to one another but at the end of the day, you’re the only one who can make the change.

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)