In Norse mythology, Hel, the realm of the dead (also the name of the queen of that realm), is a cold and dark place rather than a fiery pit. Souls suffer in icy shadows. Every year I find myself in this place of misery. Seasonal depression is real and it’s terrible.
I grew up in Buffalo, NY so I’m no stranger to cold weather. While being cold sucks, that alone is not the problem. Long, dark nights and lack of sunshine create biochemical disruptions that may significantly impact mood. Circadian rhythm can be thrown off. Serotonin, melatonin and vitamin D levels may drop. In other words, I’m not simply whining about being cold, I’m physically battling depression. This battle is EXHAUSTING.
I begin each winter with a hopeful attitude, “this year is going to be better!” But by the time February rolls around it’s all I can do to not lay in bed all day hating everyone and everything. Like slowly accumulating snow, my depression increases a little each day beginning somewhere around mid-October and lasting to around mid March. By this time of year, I feel trapped and anxious, impatiently awaiting longer days and warmer temperatures.
I wish I could say that I have some magic bullet to offer all of you who struggle similarly. I don’t. All I really have to offer is empathy and validation. They say light therapy works. I certainly enjoy sitting in the window on sunny days like a lazy house cat. They say taking a winter vacation to a warm climate helps. Who wouldn’t enjoy that? But of course it’s not always practical or even possible.
A friend suggested I get myself a pair of yellow tinted glasses and wear them on grey days. I’ll give it a try and let you know how it goes.
I take a 5,000 IU supplement of Vitamin D3 daily (as per my doctor’s recommendation) and that seems to help my mood and energy levels quite a lot.
My main defense this year is surrender…
I’ve learned to accept my limitations. Seasonal depression is an inevitable part of my life. This has been true since I was a kid. So rather than fight it or try to force myself to deal with my regular responsibilities, I’m taking February off this year. My intention is to do some deep spiritual and creative work. My primary focus will be my heart and my soul.
When the idea first crossed my mind, all of the reasons why I can’t do this came up–I have responsibilities, people depend on me, I don’t have any savings, I can’t afford to not work, etc, etc… and I decided to do it anyway.
How do YOU manage seasonal depression?
I would LOVE to hear from you if you have strategies that help you manage seasonal depression! Comment on this post or message me and let me know.
If you’re someone who struggles to stay afloat this time of year, my heart is with you. Sending lots of bright, warm sunshine your way! May you make it to spring with ease and peace.
With Love & Compassion,
Adina Arden Cooper
I'm a lover, a guide, a supportive companion. A storyteller, an artist, an ally and an advocate. I help individuals thrive and communities come together through counseling, coaching, and community building. I believe that shared humanity is a powerful strength and that our stories connect us in beautiful and sacred ways. As I stumble, skip, or soar my way through this life, I invite you to join me on the journey. Likewise, I'm honored to travel with you. In witnessing one another, we find meaning.