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I can’t stand it when people say, “I love the winter months”, or, “I can’t wait for Fall and Winter when it snows every day.”
I interpret that as, “You are a total misfit, and you are the exact reason why God made states like Indiana.”
Why would anyone love, day after day, of rain or snow mixed with dark clouds and overcast?
I acknowledge that you people do exist and are out there, so no offense meant, but you don’t understand the effects that these dreary months can have on other people.
I suffer from depression, and I have since high school.
It get’s worse during the Fall and Winter months.
I take medication for it, which helps tremendously, and I have learned to manage it.
By managing it I mean, I have come to anticipate and recognize the symptoms while living my wonderful life.
I am also not ashamed.
I’m not ashamed that I have it. I’m not ashamed that I take medicine for it. I’m not ashamed to disappoint someone else because I am looking out for myself. And, I’m not ashamed to do whatever I can to prevent or lessen the number of severe episodes I have.
I am, however, sad for those who refuse to take medicine that will help them because they don’t recognize depression as a disease just like diabetes. I am sad for children whose parents don’t want to understand their child’s diagnosis and don’t want to treat them. (BTW, thanks, mom and dad for treating mine!). And, I’m sad for others who continue to lose friends and loved ones because they don’t understand your disease.
I am also an introvert.
This is one of those situations where I find myself asking, did the chicken come before the egg or vice versa?
Was I depressed first or was I an introvert who developed depression?
Of course, I am more introverted when my symptoms are worse, but I am also a self-inflicted introvert. I am very careful about putting social activities on my schedule. I never know how I am going to feel when that planned outing arrives causing me to cancel and making others less eager to invite me to social gatherings.
I’ve lost a lot of friends due to my lack of consistency and excitement to invest my time in things that are important to THEM…things they think SHOULD be important to me.
I’ve beat myself up over this for many years, but now I am totally accepting of myself.
I’ve painted myself as a sad, depressed, hermit haven’t I?
I’m totally not.
I enjoy life so much! I think I’m even kind of fun!
I enjoy my family, my home, serving my God through overseas mission trips, my dogs, my walks with my dear friend every morning, and my journey.
But, I make choices based on my reality and by sticking to some core principles that I have found after 30 years of depression motivates me and helps to lessen the occurrence of severe episodes.
- Embrace the diagnosis. Yes, sometimes the depression comes from situational stressors (sickness, divorce, etc.), but accept the fact that it may be genetic and something you will have to manage for the rest of your life.
- Let ‘em go: If there are people in your life who question your depression or disagree with the diagnosis or how you have chosen to manage your diagnosis of depression, just let them go! Learn from me; they will never understand and actually, sometimes they don’t want to because you are interfering with their life plans. It’s okay. Friendships have seasons, and God doesn’t want you spending your life trying to manage relationships with relatives who only care about themselves.
- Decide on a regime: With your doctor, (not your aunt’s best friend’s brother), decide on treatment. That may include or not include medication. It just needs to be your decision and based on your interactions with your doctor regarding your diagnosis. Don't skip medication doses and understand that medication will help symptoms but not necessarily take them away altogether.
- Light therapy!: Don’t you feel a little better when you're hanging out in the sun? I know I do! Although I fight my depression year round, it does get worse during the Fall and Winter months for sure. Light therapy has helped me tremendously during the dreary months. So much so that for Christmas one year, I bought a light for many friends and family members! When I find something that helps me, I want everyone to know about it. At first, family members would laugh at me sitting in front of my light box while working on my computer or reading, but when they realized it was making momma a happier person to live with, they stopped the jokes! I ordered my light box from Alaskan Northern Lights. Take a look at their light boxes and learn more about the benefits of light therapy: Alaskan Northern Lights Light box You can’t just use any light, and there are many on the market. Many of the lights on the market aren’t adequate to make a difference, use the wrong bulbs, or are junk. I have found this company to meet all specifications needed to help symptoms and, some insurance companies will even pay for it. Alaskan Northern Lights will walk you through the process and answer any questions you have regarding your light therapy. This is an affiliate link, which means that if you choose to make a purchase, I will earn a commission. This commission comes at no additional cost to you. Please understand that I have experience with this company, and I recommend them because they are helpful and useful, not because of the small commissions I make if you decide to buy something. Please do not spend any money on these products unless you feel you need them or that they will help you achieve your goals.
- Exercise and Diet: Yep…I’ve got to say it. I can’t deny the fact that I feel so much better when I have control of my eating and exercise routine. Increased fat percentage decreases the absorption of vitamins and minerals including vitamin D. Decreased vitamin D levels have been linked to depression. This is a work in progress for myself.
- Routine and accountability: Sometimes I have to convince myself to keep moving. The worst thing I can do is sit on the couch all day or sleep in too late for too many days at a time. The best thing I can do for myself is to schedule my days so that I don’t have the time to sit around, get tired, and lose any energy to get up and get things done.
- Know your limits: There are times that you will need to push yourself to go to work, engage in a conversation when you don’t feel like it, or get in your car to meet the friend with whom you made plans. Even when you think you just can’t do it, you will surprise yourself. Sometimes just the action of engaging with those around us helps us get through the tough times. And sometimes, we just have to call it a day. You need to know when to make that call.
- Schedule time out: My husband always makes sure he plans a special vacation for us during the dreary seasons. All I need is some time away with him, sunlight, and warm enough weather to get a bit of exercise outside. Just a few days is usually enough to get me through until the sunnier months arrive.
- Check your levels: Vitamin D is an element in your body that is crucial to many functions. A low vitamin D level can cause depression. Vitamin D mainly comes from our exposure to the sun, but we can get it from supplements and food too. From my research, I have found that not enough doctor’s check the levels, and when they do and find the levels to be sub-therapeutic, they don’t aggressively enough treat the low level with vitamin D3. There is a correlation between living in areas, such as Indiana, with moderate amounts of sun exposure during parts of the year and low vitamin D levels; therefore, depression.
Low vitamin D also exposes people to the possibility of other diseases such as multiple sclerosis. I was diagnosed in 2012 with MS and found my vitamin D level to be very low. It probably had been low my whole life. My chiropractor, thank goodness, aggressively treated my low level to get it to the therapeutic range. My other doctors were not eager to treat the low level as aggressively. Had I taken the doses of vitamin D that they recommended, I'm positive that I would still be trying to reach a therapeutic level. Don't be afraid to question your doctor and to get a second opinion. Also, talk to your doctor about checking your children’s vitamin D levels too. They have linked diseases diagnosed as adults, such as MS, to low levels of vitamin D as a child. Children can be diagnosed with depression too.
As I sit here on this rainy day, I write this in hopes that it will give someone the comfort of knowing that they are not alone in their depression and/or their anxiety of waiting for the next round of symptoms to hit them.
Let me know in the comments if you have any additional coping mechanisms that you can share with others who suffer from depression!
I'm off to go get some Light Box joy!
*Some links used on seller.com are affiliate links, which means that if you choose to make a purchase, I will earn a commission. This commission comes at no additional cost to you. Please understand that I have experience with all of these companies, and I recommend them because they are helpful and useful, not because of the small commissions I make if you decide to buy something. Please do not spend any money on these products unless you feel you need them or that they will help you achieve your goals.