It probably started when I was in sixth grade.
We had been out cross country skiing as a family and when we got home, I just felt terrible. I had a cough and a fever that lingered into the next day. We didn’t have school so I had a surprise day of rest. By the next day, I had a fever so high that our family doctor sent me straight to the ER. There were x-rays and tests, talks of a spinal tap and a really long day in the hospital. There were no answers as to what happened but it took a solid week for me to recover.
The next time we were out in the cold, I had a similar response. And these weren’t slight fevers, they were full on 103-degree disruptions. With no firm reasons why this occurred, we just joked that my internal thermostat was broken and didn’t know how to stop going up.
What does this have to do with Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD? A lot. I think before this, I wasn’t opposed to winter. I actually remember going outside voluntarily in the snow, playing outside for hours and generally not minding the months and months of winter blahs.
After that illness in sixth grade, my view of winter changed. I didn’t want to be outside. I hated the idea of the cold.
Then it got worse as time when on. Winter is suffocating. We are stuffed into layers of clothes to keep warm. The windows are clothes, so we have to sit in thick air of germs inside of a building, increasing our odds of getting sick. I wake up and it’s still dark. I get to work and it’s still dark. I got home and the sun is setting. It’s way too dark. It’s way too cold. And it’s never ending.
I can’t get motivated to do anything. I hate everything. My depression gets worse, which, in turn, makes me anxiety worse. My anxiety includes a severe case of emetophobia, which also gets worse from October to April. All I think about are germs and illness, when we’ll get hit by it, what it will mean and how we can avoid germs.
Last year, after being hospitalized for pneumonia and having my husband working in China for 40 days, I basically survived the winter on a thin layer of anxiety and depression–just waiting for it all to crack and for me to fall in the chasm of insanity. I was that close.
This year, in September, we were camping. It was colder than it had been all year and I wasn’t ready. Then, I got a cold that quickly spiraled into pneumonia and I thought I was witnessing the start of another winter period where I feel like a shell of myself, just trying to get through the day.
I know what you are thinking. Everyone is sad when the days get shorter. Everyone feels blah when the cold weather settles in and we can’t hit the beach or the pool or spend our days outside. Everyone feels this way. Don’t make yourself into the victim.
I’m not. Because I know I’m not alone. 10 million Americans suffer from SAD and women are more frequently impacted, 5 to 1. Here are some other statistics that I found interesting:
So I decided to create this special section of my blog, The SAD Reality, which is basically just how I feel, how things are going and things I’m doing to combat the effects of SAD. I’m committed to updating it at least once a week to share what’s going on with me in hopes that it connects with someone else who needs it.
Check back here. Watch the hashtag #theSADreality or follow my on Instagram. I’ll share how things are going and I really hope to hear how things are going with you too.