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Here’s what it’s like to have seasonal affective disorder

This winter will be the fourth year my seasonal affective disorder and I will be acquainted. This time, I'm determined to overcome it.

For many, fall on the East coast is a fantastic season of apple cider donuts, pumpkin picking, incredible layered fashion, and amazing hoodie weather. But for those of us who suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), the idea of colder, shorter and darker days can be daunting. I know this is most definitely the case for me.

We’re currently in the first week of October and it has already proved to be a challenge. I am feeling less proud of my accomplishments, more alone than I did all summer, extremely tired, and significantly more mentally overwhelmed by things that would not have phased me as much otherwise. Overall, I am feeling extremely sad.

For those of us who suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), the idea of colder, shorter and darker days can be daunting. Click To Tweet

I know that blaming my condition alone isn’t fair, but this now makes it the fourth year my seasonal affective disorder and I will be acquainted. I know it well and have become very familiar with the patterns. It all starts with me losing my sense of groundedness. It’s as if the parts of me that were blooming all summer, start to slowly die. When I am not grounded enough, I don’t feel as optimistic about my potential to manifest the things I want in life nor do I feel strongly about who I am as a person. And then, I start to give in to ideas that I am a hoax and a fraud.

My very bubbly personality is starting to get cold and I can feel the life and color in me fading away very much like the leaves outside that are currently changing their colors from bright greens to dried out yellows. I’m starting to retreat, more than I had all summer. This retreating is different because in the summer I was doing it to focus on my goals. Now I am isolating myself because I feel ashamed that everything is overwhelming me. I’m paranoid that my friends want nothing to do with me even though they have expressed being genuinely busy. I keep telling myself that it is all in my head, but the thoughts have manifested into embodied feelings as they always do. This is the pattern. I think things; I feel them; I see them as real.

When I am not grounded enough, I don’t feel as optimistic about my potential to manifest the things I want in life; nor do I feel strongly about who I am as a person. Click To Tweet

This is exactly how the past four falls started. I’m trying to find the best recollection of memory to justify just how bad it gets, but each one seems just as bad as the next one that comes to mind. Fall 2014, I spend the winter not being able to differentiate real life from my mind made up thoughts. I spend the majority of the six winter months drowning my feelings with alcohol, drugs, and sex. I stay in an emotionally abusive relationship because I am afraid of being alone. As if, I have not already strayed too far from myself.

Winter 2015, my family doesn’t understand my uncontrollable crying. I spend a lot of time in darkness. I get the idea to start my blog and it becomes the only glimpse of hope I feel I have. I spend a lot of my time comparing myself to fitness models on Instagram. I adopt an eating disorder as a way of trying to find control.

Fall 2016 is so bad that Winter 2017 becomes a blur. I am smoking a lot of weed to cope. I’m never sober and start to lose touch with real life again. I write a lot of poetry about the boy from California I was dating. He broke up with me a week after I flew out to see him. He continues to visit me in New York but refuses to admit he has feelings for me. The whole thing sends me spiraling. I am living on my own for the first time since college and feel the usual loneliness that comes with depression, but this time ever more present without the noises of my family members on the other end of my closed room.

I spend New Years 2017 at my parents, in tears, ashamed that I keep putting my family through this, and feeling sorry for myself that I can’t control it. By the fall of 2017, I had enough. I was ruthless with my self-care. I got a dog, reconnected with an ex who despite always being emotionally unavailable always knew the antidote to ground me. We stay together until March.  

Instead of hiding from everything, I have been practicing showing up for myself. I want this to be the biggest testament of self-love for myself. Click To Tweet

Fall 2018, I want things to be different. In his song, “No Role Models” J Cole writes, “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. Fool me three times fuck the peace sign. Load the chopper, let em rain on you.” That is how I feel. I’ve been got three times already.

Yes, September and October  2018 have already been a challenge. I am struggling to find a balance; I miss my friends; I haven’t had time to workout and as a result, I feel drained. The thing that has been the most difficult so far has been my lack of motivation and energy to keep working towards my goals. The guilt I feel doesn’t get any better. I’m trying really hard to not stray far from myself like the past years. Instead of hiding from everything, I have been practicing showing up for myself. I want this to be the biggest testament of self-love for myself. I’ve been waking up and asking myself what I need for myself as opposed to what the world needs from me. This year, I will not give up on myself.