Welcome back to the Share Your Story series, I hope you all had a lovely Easter! Last time Adrian from Adrian Jr. A. Maronilla shared his inspirational journey, if you missed it do check it out! This week I have the very lovely Hannah from Pages, Places and Plates sharing her story on living with Seasonal Affective Disorder (S.A.D) Over yo you Hannah…
Pages, Places and Plates
Hannah is a 20-something year old blogger from Essex, England. She lives by the sea with her partner and Giant African Millipede. Her blog Pages, Places, & Plates focuses on reviews of a few of her different passions; books, eateries, British experiences, and international travel.
Seasonal Affective Disorder
I began to feel the symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder around 5 or 6 years ago. The bleakness of winter settling into my head and making those cold months drag. I brushed it aside thinking it was normal, and carried on with life as was. Winter was more difficult than summer, but nothing I couldn’t handle. 2018 was different though. The onset came on quite suddenly but it didn’t settle; rather it carried on increasing in intensity. What was once manageable became a part of my life that I just couldn’t ignore.
For those that don’t know, Seasonal Affective Disorder, (or S.A.D) is a type of depression that only occurs for half of the year – usually the winter half, but it can happen in the summer as well. It’s put down to a lack of vitamin D and can cause many of the typical signs of depression. Low mood, lack of motivation, isolation, and suicidal thoughts, among others. It’s estimated that around 1 in 10 people in the UK suffer from it, so is more common than you think. Aside from myself I know of at least three other people who suffer from it. All with varying degrees of intensity.
Before 2018, I’d definitely experienced an onset but largely it was predictable. I’d know it would start in October and end in March, and throughout that time I’d feel a bit more down than usual. Less likely to want to go out and do things. I mostly motivated myself by pushing myself through it. This worked because it wasn’t too big of a hurdle and I could generally convince myself that I was okay.
If you have S.A.D then life can feel so dark at times – remember that the light is always there, just sometimes you have to wait for it to come back into view
2018 was different for me because I lost the ability to control it. Although difficult, it’s something I’ve been able to do over the years to avoid medical intervention. This year made that impossible. My mood was so low that I couldn’t get out of bed in the morning, and every negative happening sent me spiralling into depressive thoughts. Sometimes I’d zone out for up to two hours at a time, unable to physically move myself. Other times, I’d find myself in tears but with no concrete reason as to why. The final straw was when I was sat at work, overwhelmed with tasks and completely unable to process my thoughts – brain fog – and it was then that I realised I needed to get help.
I’d never entertained the idea before as I guess part of me was scared that I’d be told that I didn’t have S.A.D at all and was just making it up. I’d mentioned the concept to people previously and had people tell me that “everyone feels like that” which made me really doubt myself. Thankfully this wasn’t the case. My doctor was very good and could see from my tearful outburst that I wasn’t just “a bit down”. She diagnosed me and provided me with medication, as well as referring me for therapy (the therapy never happened due to long waiting lists but at least she tried). She gave me helpful suggestions to improve my condition and walking home I immediately felt more confident about my feelings than I had done before.
From there on I started taking my meds everyday with vitamin D pills and used my sun lamp wherever possible. It wasn’t easy. The pills gave me some very unwanted side effects, from nausea to excessive yawning and an inability to wake up in the morning until the very last-minute. It was awful, but felt easier to explain than what had been inhibiting me previously. Eventually those side effects started to lessen, and my mood lifted out of the despair I’d been in previously.
Knowing that brighter days are ahead of me really helps me to control S.A.D
It wasn’t just the meds that helped. I had to seriously change my way of thinking. I’m a very structured and motivated person usually. Filling my day with schedules and tasks. If I don’t do that I feel like I haven’t achieved anything. I need to be ticking them off (one of the drawbacks of being creative, I guess!). This is so unhealthy for me in the winter though, and I had to learn to accept that sometimes you just can’t get it done. It’s okay to take a day off if you need it, and it’s also okay to spend your entire Saturday on the sofa in your pyjamas if that’s what you need. I moved my chores over to the Sunday and having that day off straight after work made all the difference.
I can’t say that the pills and the interventions have made my Seasonal Affective Disorder go away completely but they’ve really helped me manage it. I’d encourage anyone else finding S.A.D getting in the way of their lives to consider something to help. Whether it be medication, a sun lamp, vitamin D, or simply better self-acceptance. I know it’s a condition I’ll have forever but I understand how to deal with it now. And that gives me so much hope. I can already feel the darkness lift as spring starts to appear, and after how I felt this winter it’s honestly one of the best feelings in the world.
Thank you Hannah for sharing your story with us. If you would like to follow Hannah head over to her social;