Around September time, SAD usually begins to take its toll on me. I don’t know why, but it happens. I don’t actually know how long it’s been going on for and I haven’t seen anybody about it (yet) because I am stubborn, basically, and when the dark moments come I feel like I know how to deal with it eventually, even if it takes a day or two. I am very lucky and very grateful that I am able to feel the impacts as mildly as I do, and that I am able to help these as easy as I do.
However, I started University in September this year, and with that came a move to Cornwall in the most westerly part of the South West of England (I’m from the most easterly part of the South East) and I thought it would be best to start really tackling this issue actively, as it’s become a lot more noticeable. The best way to do that for me, I figure, is to talk about it. Plain and simple.
Part of feeling down a lot may be due to stress, maybe due to isolation, maybe it’s just the weather. I have my boyfriend of almost 2 years with me and my flatmates are all lovely and really supportive, kind, great people and I try to keep in contact with my friends and family who are as lovely and kind but I live in my own room now and my own space feels great but very daunting sometimes. I am also an empath – a quality that I don’t particularly understand very well, but other people’s emotions tend to sort of ‘leak’ into my own and I almost always forget to put up a wall to that because feeling is one of the things I cherish most about humans.
Anyway, whatever it is it’s a real nuisance and I just want to get on with life and with University how I intended to; with a quadruple whammy of kickass, ambition, motivation and happiness.
Everybody has dark days and so many people experience stress, grief, anxiety or even depression at one time or another in their lives. I really do genuinely care about people’s states of mind because it’s one of the most important things to nurture properly, and appropriately. I believe that one of the kindest things a friend or anyone can do is to try to help someone in any way you can when they’re clearly reaching out to you. Sometimes it may be someone you love, someone you would have never expected because they seem like the happiest person in the world, someone you dislike, someone you don’t even know. Anybody deserves this attention. Just listening to them, offering them a shoulder to cry on, helping to sort through their anxieties, just sitting with them can help. I value times where I can help people, and as somebody who often reaches out to people for help with my own mindset, I can say that it really does help, and it’s one the most appreciated thing when somebody is feeling low.
Take today, for example. I had a stress dream about my food all being mouldy, woken up at 1am, had been unable to sleep for another hour and a half, woken up feeling sick to my stomach and exhausted, realised I had nothing for breakfast, ate soggy toast, had to be in a lecture for 9am to write an essay in 50 minutes, had coffee (big mistake) went to a workshop on archives that I spent most of feeling irritable, exhausted, dizzy and miserable, and then went to sort out my modules for next term. All before 13:45pm. My morning was sort of stressful (obviously I appreciate that this will seem like nothing to others, but those people deserve a thousand gold stars and chocolatey treats) and I was feeling very under the weather.
I went to go collect my post last, and had a random rectangular package that said ‘M&S’ on it. I thought it was a job application form I’d applied for and forgotten about, but it was actually a card from my family with 2 of the bigger bars of Galaxy in it. I actually cried of happiness on the way back to my flat because I just felt so blessed to have that sort of support in my life. I really liked the pure gratitude I experienced in that one moment from somebody comforting me. Chocolate and love. That is what I craved, and it was like my family just knew. I am so lucky to have people around me that care about me and that I feel like I can reach out to.
Reaching out to people really does help, and I promise you there are people out there who love you and want to help you – the first step is just to get out of your room, or get off your computer or gameboy (whatever the latest thing is these days, but gameboys are way cooler) and just go seek help at feeling better in any way you can. I promise you that people out there want to help because I want to help. There’s no greater feeling than helping somebody feeling better and seeing the improvement in their mindset, even if it just lasts a little while – that improvement FEELS noticeable, and it can always be done again. Reach out for opportunities to engage with people who will have a positive impact on your mindset, and I promise you it will be rewarded.
I tend to get a little hysterical with my emotions at this time of the year – my anxieties and insecurities flare about the smallest things, and I find myself getting irritable, restless, paranoid, emotional, and just generally feel slightly to very crappy. Personally, I do not ever get to a stage where I have remotely suicidal or self-destructive feelings, but if you do please do not be afraid and please try not to feel you are facing your feelings alone because you are not. Ever. I would suggest talking to somebody (please just anybody you want to that you feel will help because they will) or call:
Bipolar UK: phone: 020 7931 6480 / website: www.bipolaruk.org.uk
Depression Alliance: phone: 0845 123 232 / email: firstname.lastname@example.org / website: www.depressionalliance.org
Get Connected: phone: 0808 808 4994 / website: www.getconnected.org.uk
SAD Association: website: www.sada.org.uk
Mood Swings: Phone: 0161 832 3736 / website: www.moodswings.org.uk
These people genuinely help and if you’re feeling that low it is really worth giving them a call or even just assuring yourself that there are people out there that want to help you. Not just anybody: you. You call them, you will matter to them – assured. Even if it’s just to get more information or to try to understand how to go in a positive direction from the point you’re at.
The most important thing to remember to get through the darker days is that there ARE lighter days, there are lovely places, lovely feelings, lovely things to do and there are lovely people everywhere that care about you – whether they know it or not they do. You matter, you have potential and you can do this. Kickass every day because days deserve to have their asses kicked. Royally. It does get better and you can pull through – I address short term sadness and low points in my video ‘One of Those Days’ (here) and I hope it will make you feel good if you feel bad, because sometimes it really helps me : )
Here’s some things I do to help any negative feelings whatsoever:
- Exercise (Jillian Michaels’ videos are great. The 20 minute things are especially good because they leave you enough of your day to go be motivated)
- Go see friends / talk to friends / facetime or talk to family members / reach out online
- Eat chocolate (oldest trick in the book, and J.K Rowling knows it – she revealed that in Harry Potter, Dementors are actually inspired by her experience of depression / people with depression, and chocolate, as Lupin portrays, was her favourite way of dealing with the negativity)
- Sleep. Sometimes (more often than not) it’s sleep deprivation that keeps the cycle of badness going. Insomniacs: get yourself to the GP to seek help because sleep is important (camomile tea or reading a (boring, if it helps) book helps me fall asleep)
- Inspirational quotes / Rhonda Byrne ‘The Secret: Daily Teachings‘ – it’s like one of those fancy rip-the-previous-day-off square block calendar of motivational quotes and it’s so awesomely helpful at the start/middle/end of the day.
- Retail therapy. I’m a sucker for cute 99p rings with free postage on Ebay… Sometimes it’s just nice to expect post.
I hope you feel lovely, and if not – and if you experience any particularly bad/recurrently negative feelings – then I hope you feel lovely soon and that you have somebody to speak to. If not then I am here (I genuinely just love people and will talk about anything) or the numbers/websites/emails above I stated are there and just try to feel as good as you possibly can and just cosy yourself up in your favourite ways.
‘With SAD it really is like the weather. You can’t just tell it to be sunny… It will get better in its own time. So what you can do is give someone an umbrella and a warm drink and gloves and that’s how you combat bad weather. With warm drinks and laughs and distractions is how you combat seasonal depression.’
– Accurate description of Seasonal Affective Disorder, and some of the loveliest cures offered by lovely people: Joel Crofts, 2014.