Monday, December 17, 2018

Dealing With Seasonal Depression

Depression. It's not the usual upbeat and happy things I like to talk about, but it's important, and this time of year people struggle more than other times.

I've struggled since I was a kid with depression. I don't remember exactly when it started but it's something that I've dealt with forever. As a teen, it got worse and worse. Then after I recognized it as what it was and learned how to deal with it, it started to become less and less frequent that I'd be so low.  It wasn't until I was an adult that I started feeling really good most of the time. Winter would come around and I'd feel myself drop again, but I was determined to work with it and not let it get bad again. I never took medication for it, though I believe it is incredibly helpful for some to use medication. I didn't want to have to rely on something like that, though I was willing to if I got that low again.  I wanted to feel like I could fight it on my own.  I still deal with it once in a while, though not nearly as bad and not as frequent. I know that even though most people don't like talking about depression, people do look for ways to deal with it, how to help themselves out of it and what to do when you or someone you love is in the thick of depression. So I wanted to help as much as I can by sharing how I deal with my seasonal depression without medication.

First of all, there are different kinds of depression. Some are a chemical imbalance, some come from tragic events such as a death, sometimes depression comes from an experience that hasn't been dealt with, like abuse. The best first step is to figure out what is causing your depression. Go to a doctor and talk about what's been going on. Have your hormone levels tested, or go talk to a licensed therapist to start understanding your depression. You can't fix something if you don't know where to start fixing.

Seriously, some therapy visits may be all you need. Or maybe some adjustments in your hormones or some medication. But if you want more than that, here are some things that have helped me.



Calling someone who knows what I'm going through or knows, at very least, that I struggle with this can be a huge help! This is something my therapist encouraged me to do and it has helped more than I thought it ever would. Write a list of 3 people who you can call. People you feel very comfortable talking to about anything. People who will listen and be there and people you know you can rely on. I'm so lucky to have so many people in my life that fit into that description.  My sister, My cousins, Trevon, My mom....my list has grown over the years but it's ok if it's not big. Pick 3 people you know you can call anytime.  Call them and schedule a time to meet up for a bite to eat. Or just call to chat. I think this is one of the things that has helped me the very most in my adult years of depression.  The days that I feel myself slipping, I feel cold and tired and down and dark, I call someone on my list and even just that few minutes of adult conversation can lift me enough to get me through the rest of the day feeling a little better.


Treat yourself to something that you don't normally do. Let yourself sit and watch your favorite movie even if you have other things to do. Let yourself take a nap. Take a bath. Do something extra for yourself.



Exercise. You guys, I can't even begin to talk about how much running has helped me with depression. The endorphins you get are a huge help, but running also gave me a sense of accomplishment. Meeting goals, feeling good about myself, having something I can do to process the jumble in my mind. It's amazing how much this one thing, a very simple thing of working out, (which everyone should do at least on a simple level with or without depression), has done for my life. Find your favorite type of exercise and do it consistently.



Take a social media break. As much as I love social media and the connections and friendships I've made there, there are several articles that show that social media is to blame for a lot of mental health issues.  Taking a break from social media for a week or more can really help you to see things differently. It can help you to socialize with people face to face instead of through a screen.  I've taken social media breaks before, and while I truly did miss the relationships I've made there, I enjoyed the clarity of my mind while on the break. And my friends that I've made through there were still there when I was ready to be back. 

Write down your feelings. Have a notebook or a journal that you can write in just for days like this. Write down all the things in your head, when you read them back, they won't seem as bad. You'll notice that some of them may even seem silly.  Things aren't usually as bad as they seem, our minds just tend to make a bigger deal of some things than they are. Along with this, I used to write letters to people who I was feeling frustrated with, including myself. I'd write a big letter of why I was mad at them, or how they disappointed me. Then, when the letter was done, I'd burn it (obviously in a safe place).  It was extremely therapeutic.



Go outside. Even if it's cold out. Bundle up and go for a walk. The fresh air and the movement help your brain function better.  Plus, even if it's a cloudy day, the sun's vitamin D will help some. Even if it's just a little bit of sun.



Remember that "this too shall pass." Problems don't normally last a lifetime.  The things you are feeling won't be forever, you can get past it, and it's worth the work to do so. Decide right now that you're going to be stronger than this, and then be determined to prove it.  Remember that you are not the only person to feel this way. There are so many people who struggle with many different forms of depression, and there are places and people you can go to that understand. Find those people and work through things together. 

 If there is someone in your life who is struggling with depression, share your happy with them.  Invite them for a fun day out, call just to tell them a joke, send them a treat or a small gift so they know someone cares and is thinking about them. Be there to listen to them. 

Also if you or someone you know is dealing with this, HERE is the crisis hotline. It's a free call with a counselor and it can help save a life.

Have you had to deal with any kind of depression?

How did you (or how are you working to) overcome it?


13 comments:

  1. These are really great tips. While I don't personally struggle with depression, I have many friends that do, especially seasonal affective disorder (SAD) as we have shorter daylight during the day. I'm going to share your blog with them and hope that they can benefit from the tips that you've laid out.

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    1. Thank you! I hope it helps them even just a little bit!

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  2. Amazing tips! I'm glad to see this topic talked about more online with bloggers and in the media. I dealt with "situational" depression several years ago; talking with my PCP and having a great support system of friends got me through it!

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    1. It's great to have a system that works for you! My friends were a huge support to me too.

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  3. I am a #depressionwarrior. It has followed me through life for a long time. I am currently dealing with a major bout of depression due to life events and just the way I am made. It is challenging to get out of but i have a great team of doctors and therapists helping me. I am sorry that you are feeling low. This time of year can definitely be hard. So many hugs to you and thank you for talking about such an important issue.

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    1. I'm so sorry you are dealing with it worse right now! I'm very glad that you have a great support team and people helping you. That changes things so much. I hope you start feeling better soon.

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  4. I have some friends who really struggle at this time of year - it can be so hard. You've offered some great tips!

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    1. Thank you for being a great friend to those who are struggling with this.

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  5. This time of the year can be really emotional and tough for lots of people. Getting outside and exercising even in the winter really helps me a lot. Great tips!

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    1. Yes! Any physical activity helps me a lot too. Thank you for reading.

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  6. I'm so sorry you deal with this. It's a tough one for sure, but I'm glad you are armed with the coping skills and therapy to get you through. I have anxiety though not depression, and it's definitely tough to manage sometimes. I can definitely isolate myself when things get overwhelming and I wish it was easier to work through those difficult or damaging feelings. Hang in there.

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    1. I've recently started getting anxiety too. I don't have it a lot, but when I do it's bad. Luckily I know what most of my triggers are and I'm usually ready for it when it starts to come. All of that stuff is so hard. But the good news is, we can all get better. It doesn't have to be like that for life.

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  7. I can totally relate to this post! I have struggled on and off with depression!
    My go-to medication is exercise! It helps me SO much! I also am very thankful for friends/family who are there to support me when I am in a low spot.
    Thanks for sharing a tough topic!

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