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“It’s the most wonderful time of the year” according to the song. It seems many people all over the world agree. But, for me, it feels a bit like a water slide from about mid August until sometime in February.
It’s not that I don’t like Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years and Valentine’s Day. As a Christ follower, I am very thankful for the fact that God Himself came to earth to be a man and make it possible for me to know Him. But, somewhere in my 20’s something in my physiology started changing. It’s difficult to explain, but I’m sure any of my readers who have Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) understand all too well.
Basically, for those of us with SAD, the shorter daylight hours bring various, negative emotional and physical issues. Some of the symptoms are foggy thinking, fatigue, sadness, lethargy, irritability and a general feeling of being not quite normal. These symptoms, their severity and how long they last vary from person to person, but they’re all caused by the smaller amount of sunlight available during the fall and winter months and how it affects seratonin levels in our brains.
For me, it usually starts in late August. I feel a little more tired on cloudy days and a bit less motivated. As the Christmas stuff starts showing up in stores in mid November, I often feel like I’m mentally in a fog and I find myself feeling sad more. My symptoms tend to eb and flow with my body cycles and with weather systems. For example, the first named storm of the winter season has been moving through to the east today and I’ve been feeling off all day. Having dealt with SAD for such a long time makes it easier for me to put my finger on what’s going on with me more quickly, but I still find it frustrating sometimes. I see the beautiful leaves in the fall and find myself thinking “Here we go again” instead of just enjoying the moment. As the trees become bare and the Christmas songs begin, I find myself working harder at staying positive, especially when the gray days linger. It feels a bit like I’m being gradually covered in a dark fog until December 21st when the days stop getting shorter. Then it becomes a matter of holding out until the first flowers bring me hope for longer and brighter days.
Thankfully, it has gotten a bit easier as I’ve learned what coping skills work for me. There was a time when I became more and more afraid as the days grew shorter. It was like somehow I thought the fog would smother me. But, now I rely on faith that God isn’t going to drop me and knowing that these feelings can’t really hurt me. They certainly don’t feel comfortable, but writing about them, communicating with people who love me, practicing yoga, getting as much sun as I can, reading the Bible, talking with God and doing things I enjoy all help me during this time of the year along with eating well and laughing often.
I hope none of my readers have to deal with SAD, but if you do, know that you aren’t the only one and that it is possible to have a happy fall and winter even if it isn’t “the most wonderful time of the year” for you.
Thanks for reading and please drive safely šŸ™‚