#ROW80 check-ins, personal journeys

Living with Seasonal Affective Disorder

The timing is never good. Right around the holidays, as trees are being decorated and presents being wrapped, my energy level plummets. Just as we rush toward the end of the semester and final projects pile up to be graded, I grow tired—deeply, down to my bones exhausted.

Depression comes along with it, and the guilt. The guilt that I don’t have the energy to write as much, to keep my house as tidy, to prepare as complex of meals or run as many errands. It’s seasonal affective disorder (SAD). According to WebMD

“While we don’t know the exact causes of SAD, some scientists think that certain hormones made deep in the brain trigger attitude-related changes at certain times of year. Experts believe that SAD may be related to these hormonal changes. One theory is that less sunlight during fall and winter leads to the brain making less serotonin, a chemical linked to brain pathways that regulate mood. When nerve cell pathways in the brain that regulate mood don’t function normally, the result can be feelings of depression, along with symptoms of fatigue and weight gain.”

It’s the lack of energy that gets me. As you may have noticed, I haven’t been blogging as much. Don’t worry. It’s not the depression that’s getting me. It’s the exhaustion. And the longer I’m exhausted, the harder it is to think of things to say.

So how do I deal with it? Here are a few ways:

1.) Fix simpler, less complex meals and freeze the leftovers. I’ve only done freezer meals a few times, but I plan on doing more in the years to come so that when winter rolls around I have to cook less—meaning more energy for other things.

2.) Push myself to do yoga or pilates. It uses energy, sure, but exercise is a proven way to combat depression and anxiety. The trick is actually getting off the sofa and onto the yoga mat.

3.) Practice self-kindness. This is by far one of the hardest things for me, year-round. I hold myself to impossible standards and will beat myself up for even the smallest of things. I’m trying to learn to be more forgiving to myself when I don’t meet my goals.

4.) Set more realistic goals. A few weeks ago I was writing 8,000 words a week. That probably won’t happen through most of the winter. So my goals need to be lower and more achievable given that my energy is lower.

So that’s the plan. What about you? Do you suffer from SAD or know anyone who does? How do you or they deal with the symptoms?

Lastly, a ROW80 check-in:

Writing: Not a super-productive writing week, but I did finish a read-through of A Prince in Patience Point. It’s currently a novella of about 30K, but I’m toying with the idea of expanding it. We’ll see what happens as I revise.

Reading: Read The New Policeman by Kate Thompson. Really well done and a great twist on Irish mythology. Would recommend.

A Round of Words in 80 Days is the writing challenge that knows you have a life. It’s also a blog hop.

Do you get the winter blues? If so, how do you beat them?

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