Good morning and welcome to “T’ Thursday, the T standing for Truth. This is a new series where I will be discussing issues important to me that are a part of overall wellness, but are often ignored because they don’t involve diet or exercise.
If you’ve been reading my blog for any period of time, then you know that I suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder, otherwise known as SAD, or Seasonal Depression. It wasn’t discovered until I was an adult, but in truth I’ve had it my entire life. Almost every year, from late-October to mid-March, I suffer from unpredictable sadness, melancholy, negative thoughts about my self-worth, and lack of energy. Five months of hell.
I do not take medication for depression. Instead, I use alternative methods of dealing with it. When I was younger, before I knew exactly what it was, I would drink until I could no longer feel. It worked, in a way, but depending on alcohol to deal with my emotional state proved damaging in many ways, so I stopped drinking completely for a while.
I then turned to food and the resulting weight gain actually made my depression worse.
I tried drowning myself in sports, but baseball, my favorite, runs from March to October. *side note – it is not lost on me that the baseball season and my depression run during opposing months of the year. I sometimes wonder if there is a direct correlation.*
I’ve even tried to surround myself with friends, but in the end would wind up feeling alone, while in a room full of people. It wasn’t helping.
Eventually I realized that this was something I would just have to fight through each year and hope I would come out on the other side in one piece. I was not suicidal, so taking drugs was an unnecessary option in my mind. And throughout the years, it worked out just fine.
That was until I got pregnant. Then I wanted to die.
See, I got pregnant the end of August 2006, which means the bulk of my pregnancy occurred during my depressive months. Definitely not good planning. My then husband and I had planned on having this child. We wanted it. It was a part of our “American Dream”, to have the house with the white picket fence, the 2.5 children, and the dog. But by November, I was having second thoughts. My own childhood had been filled with abuse, causing me to fear what type of mother I would be. I didn’t have loving parents and didn’t believe I had the ability to love a child. Of course, this was the depression talking. But it wouldn’t SHUT UP!
Every day that winter, as my belly grew larger and larger, the pain got worse and worse. I had gestational diabetes so I had to give myself a shot of insulin 3 times a day. I couldn’t eat because of severe nausea, which meant I was incredibly weak. And then, the thought. Gawd, how I wanted it all to end. One day, I stood at the top of the stairs of my 3rd floor apartment. It took everything in my soul to walk away from them, the negative energy pulling me to end the misery I was in. It was the hardest internal fight I’d ever had.
That day was March 11, 2007. My birthday.
A few days later, the seasonal depression was gone, and I was able to continue the pregnancy with optimism and joy until my little girl was born on April 2, 2007. That October, it began all over again.
People don’t understand seasonal depression. Hell, I don’t understand it myself. I mean, how can a mentally stable, fully functioning adult turn into a miserable mess for 5 months out of the year, like a light switch being turned on, just for the switch to be turned off again the following spring? It doesn’t make sense. And that’s why I am writing this today, just 9 days before my birthday.
I am nearing the end of my annual fuckaroo. In the next week or so, I expect to be feeling like myself again and will quickly forge ahead with spring cleaning, shopping for clothes for the warmer months, and enjoying the sun and warmer temps that will soon follow. But today, I am still stuck in the shadows.
Soon I will celebrate my daughter’s 10th birthday with vigor and nostalgia, knowing what I had to suffer through just to have her. There will be balloons, toys, a large chocolate cake, and I’m sure some time at Dave & Busters. The laughter and pure joy on her face will make this winter seems like a terrible dream. It will be awesome!
But the SAD will always linger. Knowing that in just a few months I will again be stuck inside a sort of psychological black hole will sit in he back of my mind. An there is nothing I will be able to do about it. But I will fight the madness and attack each day with the determination to keep moving forward and see the good in all things. Because I am worth it….we are all worth it. And I know that I am not alone.