Recognizing and Caring for Your Seasonal Depression: An Owner’s Manual

Last weekend I cancelled every plan that I’d made with anyone else and by midday on Sunday, I realized that I hadn’t been outside of the house since Thursday night. I noticed that I’d felt very flat the whole time. I forced myself to go to a Sunday evening meeting that I’d been wanting to flake out on and, guess what, I had fun. As an introvert, alone time holed up in my quiet spaces is good for me and helps me to feel recharged. As someone who is prone to depression, it can be hard to tell the difference between excessive self-care and getting pulled into a crater by a monster that feeds on my feelings and wants at least a part of me to die.

I remember when my therapist pointed out that I seem to always lose myself a little bit more when the season changes into fall. It’s true but I never noticed it because Fall is my favorite time of the whole year and so there’s always a sweetness that floats on top. Fall is also the time of year when my dad died and I thought I might, too. Fall is a season with its own colors and smells and tactile sensations and my body–my whole soul remembers it all. I know that I compare it to a monster tugging on my pant leg but it really is just all these parts of what makes up the core of me that is just remembering what it feels like to have half of you ripped away while you weren’t looking. And these parts of me don’t want to be caught off guard when it happens again. So in their remembering, they brace themselves. No matter how many times I try to tell them that it won’t happen again. I think they can’t hear me.

If this feels familiar to you, it’s important to make a list of resources. Keep a list in your phone. Set reminders in your calendar to get out of the house or just evaluate yourself. Remind yourself of the people that you should call on and if you feel comfortable–ask them to check in on you from time to time. Ask them to force you out of your house every now and again.

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Here’s a glimpse at a few parts of my list–things that I’ve actually written down on paper to myself to get myself though days when I’m not sure if I can:

  • Allow yourself to make concessions. Now is not the time for judgement. Now is the time to do what it takes to bust yourself out.
  • Listen to Top 40 Radio and let yourself sing along. Don’t feel bad for feeling giddy when “Despacito” plays for the 4,000th time.
  • Shamelessly Google things that make you feel happy:
    Baby goat GIFs.
    -Recipes for donuts.
    -Photos of Glennon and Abby.
    -That one photo of a hedgehog that Ryan always sends to you when you’ve had a rough day.
  • Take a shower even if you don’t feel like it. Shave your legs. You like doing that.
  • Limit your exposure to William Fitzsimons music, Lars von Trier films, and the news.
    -Instead, listen to Lady Gaga, it’s fine.
    -Watch Big Mouth on Netflix. It’s FINE.
    -Read only fashion blogs. LOOK, THIS IS A NO JUDGEMENT ZONE!
  • Daydream about extravagant trips you could take. Browse “Portugal” on Airbnb.
  • Commit to leaving the house and really feeling that outside air:
    -Even if it’s just to check the mail.
    -Even if it’s just to buy toilet paper.
    -Better if you walk around the block.
  • Wash the dishes or whatever other mindless task gets you out of your chair.
  • Promise yourself that you’ll drink a glass of water before you drink anything else:
    -And if you don’t do it, don’t worry about it. You’ll be fine.
    -LaCroix counts.
  • Do all of the cheesiest shit that you can think of to up your mood.
    Look. Listen. Look and listen (name that podcast): Cliches are cliches for a reason. Fuzzy slippers. A beautiful cup of tea. Sitting by an open window. Petting a cat. Do it all.

little things, all the stereotypes
they’re gonna help you get through this one night
and there will be a day when you can say you’re okay and mean it
I promise you it’ll all make sense again
I promise you it’ll all make sense again

So, what’s on your list? How do you know when you need to utilize it? You don’t have to answer here but I hope you come up with an answer.
I love you.

2 thoughts on “Recognizing and Caring for Your Seasonal Depression: An Owner’s Manual

  1. Excellent tips. Here is my addition: Sunlight. Sunlight. Sunlight. Fall and winter are horrible because it’s too cold to go out and every inch of skin gets covered up when we do. But sunlight is my personal magic bullet even if it means taking a freezing walk in a tee-shirt with goosebumpy arms.

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