As I settle into fall, and the days steadily grow shorter, I find myself already facing an anxiety about an upcoming annual occurrence.
For as long as I can remember, I have always suffered from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), which compounds my depression symptoms during the winter days, when daylight is limited.
Right now, it is peak fall beauty, and SAD seems far away: The weather is still warm, the leaves are changing color, and, though daylight is retreating, the sun is still out for much of the day.
But, I feel it is now important to write a message to myself that I can read during the heart of winter, when my lethargy skyrockets and I find it out hard to extract myself from my own bed.
I hope I remember that SAD is only temporary, that the temperatures will rise, and the days will get longer, and I will be okay.
I hope I remember to not hate the winter; I hope I remember that winter has a beauty of its own. I hope I push myself to enjoy the holidays, and I hope I challenge myself to see the magic of a snowfall. I hope I make myself ski, and ice skate, and do the activities I know I love, but forget to do when I feel cold and empty.
I hope I remember that SAD is deceiving, and that the things that seem least desirable to do are the things I need to do most. One of the major signs of depression, period, is the loss of interest in activities that normally bring you joy, and I need to remind myself that this is especially true when SAD strikes. I hope I remember to push myself to go to yoga; to go the extra mile to spend time with friends; to dress warmly and leave my apartment, even when it seems daunting.
I hope I remember to be honest with my psychiatrist about how I am feeling, and to work with them on adjusting medications if necessary. I hope I remember to sit below my light therapy lamp each morning, and that I push myself to read books, and not retreat into repetitive cycling of negative thoughts.
I hope I remember that ice cream and French fries are good in the moment, but my body needs healthy foods to feel its best, physically and emotionally. I hope I remember to make myself eat, even when the depression sinks in and my appetite disappears.
I hope I remember to sleep enough, but not too much.
I hope I remember to push myself to pursue projects, to keep writing, even if I feel numb, as creativity, in conjunction with therapy and medication, is the means through which I best lift myself from my darkest depths.