Saturday, February 27, 2010


I have talked about my anxiety disorder a bit on this blog.

It's something that I'm working to control, and have been somewhat successful with limited medication. I'm learning what my triggers are and where they come from - no matter how foolish they make me feel, and I'm working through things. I don't go to therapy anymore, but I did a stint in college and it was good for me. Now I'm working with diet and exercise and self-talk and prayer. It's working okay.

I haven't had a full blown panic attack in over a year.

There's something else though. It isn't controlled the same way.

I also have SAD: Seasonal Affective Disorder.

This normally effects people in the fall or winter months or a combination of the two. I am one of the semi-rare cases: I am effected in the spring.

SAD, for me, started around my freshman year of college, to my knowledge, though it may have been as early as my junior year of high school. It's not based on specific days or months in the calendar, but more on the weather outside.

It always begins at the time when the snow is melting outside and the temperature hovers in the forties or fifties. Days like today.

People who are close to me know about my deal with SAD and if they haven't been told about it explicitly, they've probably figured it out, but not everyone in my circle knows or really "gets it". Spring is the time when most people feel happy or renewed. For me it's just the opposite.

My happy time is the fall. There have been some studies that say this opposite season is a period of mania and that SAD is actually a form of manic-depression that occurs over a much longer period of time. I could see how this could be accurate in my case.

Regardless, it's that time of year again.

There are some things about the spring that I actually like. My creativity sort of ramps up. Yes, most of my poetry is depressing, but I'm writing much more often than usual. It's a time of self-reflection and that isn't all bad.

The things that are hard are the dealing with people parts. The feeling overwhelmed and wanting to hide parts. The not feeling like going out, or exercising, or talking to anyone ever again even though I know it will probably make me feel better afterward parts.

The part where, I know if I go for a run I will feel better, but something in my my brain doesn't WANT me to feel better. Like...I NEED to feel depressed. Just walk into the fog again. Just settle in for the season.

I know that isn't a good attitude. It isn't the way I want to be. So I fight this inner battle with myself and often it comes out as anger at others. I'm beating myself up for not going running when I know it would make me feel better - and my other half is saying "you don't WANT to go running. Running sucks. Stay at home and sit in the corner with a fleece blanket and the lights off and don't talk to anyone - that's what will really help."

I used to associate the feeling with a boy from my past. It's because SAD happened to me after we met and dated and sort of cracked at the seams. The happy part had been this time of year. I thought for a long time that if I got back together with him then things would get better for me mentally.

I know that was stupid now, but during college I would have done almost anything to make the pain stop.

I'm careful to stay above that line of drowning now.

Back then I didn't know what was going on, didn't prepare for it, almost...embraced it when it came. I just stepped into the fog and held on to the grey. I would take walks in the rain in my long black trenchcoat and let the droplets careen down my back, my long hair soaking. I would fall in love with the goosebumps on my skin and the solitude of my darkness. I would sit alone at night in my room and write and write and write and not sleep - get coffee - write some more. I remember that it was hard to sleep, even though I felt so tired. I would skip work to just sit and stare at the wall. I alienated my friends. I cussed them out. I threw things.

It was after I cussed out a friend over the difference between a see-saw and teeter-totter that I knew I needed help. That's when I started going to therapy.

The strange thing about SAD is that when the season comes to a close, when the warmth of June replaces the crisp, sunny, humidity of May I am suddenly back to "normal". I wonder if other people who have this disorder also feel this way. I wonder why it happens.

As I enter this season - like all the years before - I wonder if there is anything I can do to stop it from happening. I feel the tightness in my chest, the lump in my throat, the slight nausea in my stomach. I want to cry. I want to scream at everyone. I want to sink into the bathtub and feel the water all around me because water is something that is tangible. Something I can feel against my skin. Something I can touch - and nothing else seems real.

This year I will try to fight. I will try to go and run even when I don't want to, even while I'm beating myself up inside for not wanting to and feeling guilty for giving in or not giving in - I will try to fight. I will try to get enough sleep and I will try to keep writing positive things and I will try to read my Bible and pray and not just get angry at God for seeming to desert me here.

I will continue to walk in the rain.

But I will play with my children.

I will eat healthy food.

I will NOT alienate myself...

I will try to do these things this year.

I will try.

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