Saturday, December 10, 2016

Coping with Seasonal Depression

This time of year is usually about giving, joy, and warm fuzzies. But for me this time of year brings on a different effect.  I become burdened, I feel alone and isolated, and more often than not I don't take care of myself.  My hair hasn't been washed for more than a week and I'm pretty sure if I were to wring it out I could fill a small bottle with oil. I have not put on makeup or really gotten dressed, for that matter, for days and it's starting to settle in that the good old seasonal sadness, or depression if you will, has come to take it's course.

A few years ago I had my first experience with this inner demon.  It took me by surprise and buried me deep in my bed for days.  I didn't accomplish anything I needed to.  I sat and stared at my television for hours and hours and dreaded the undertakings of keeping up a household and caring for my kids.  What got me out of this horror was taking care of ME.  Something I wasn't doing in any sort of fashion.  I obviously wasn't bathing regularly, I was eating crap...or not eating at all, I stayed inside and neglected my physical, emotional, and spiritual needs.

Many would argue that mental health is something that can be controlled.  I used to think the same thing.  In fact I'm pretty sure I said "snap out of it" to my sister who's struggled with depression her entire life.  It's not a quick fix when it comes to finding light in a time of darkness.  It's not like one can just flip a switch and all is right in the world again.  The joy and happiness come back at a slow and steady pace as long as we are striving for it.  I'm not an expert in depression or treatments for it, but because of my seasonal struggle, I've found ways to bring me slowly back to that state of mind where I feel level and in control.

This week has been one where I've noticed that evil seasonal shadow hovering above me. It has me feeling tired, unmotivated, and dreading the care of my little ones.  With being a nursing momma it's been even harder to wrap my arms around  my baby to feed her.  Her cries are like knives to my ears because I know it means I'll have to crawl out of my cozy and darkened room to feed her and comfort her when I can't seem to feed and comfort myself.  Today I finally realized that while I can't just 'snap out of it' I know I can be in control of my life.  So I wanted to share a few things that help me during this difficult time of year.  Before I share I should state that, again, I'm not an expert, and if you feel like you need professional and medical help, that is where you should go.  But for me my heart and mind tell me that I can crawl out of this darkness on my own if I simply put some effort towards the cause.

I'm starting with placenta pills.  That's right people, I take pills filled with my dehydrated placenta from when I was pregnant with Daisy.  It sounds absolutely disgusting and, believe me, when I first heard about it I thought the same thing.  I'm happy to share the fact that I ingest these pills though because they have been my lifesavers in a time of sadness.  From what I've read, they're filled with your bodies hormones that are needed to help you recover during the postpartum months.  They help with hormone balance, milk production, mood swings, and that's just to name a few.  From  my own experience I can honestly say that they've made a HUGE difference in how I've felt after I take them. Still kinda gross, but if it works...I ain't complaining.

Essential oils are a major part in helping to brighten my darkest days.  I could go on and on about how great they are and the science behind their affects but for now I'll just say this.  What happens to you when you smell something you love?  Do you cry or grin?  I stick to a few oils that I love and smell them or diffuse them throughout the day.  Citrus oils are amazing during the dreary winter months because they're uplifting and warming.  I put a drop on my wrists and breathe in deep and sure enough, within a few moments I start to feel more level.

Self care is an obvious one.  This season has been especially hard because my self care is almost non existent.  All day I'm caring for three other humans...ok four if you count the hubby.  I'm giving giving giving all day long to others but I'm not giving back to myself.  I love the quote, "In order to take care of others you must first take care of yourself." Yes, I am a firm believer on service and giving to those around me, but when I'm on empty it becomes nearly impossible to have anything left to give.  This one is so hard for me to follow through on.  By the end of the day there aren't enough hours left before bed to really take care of myself.  So I simplify by doing small and simple things to help fill that emptiness.  I take a bath, paint my nails, wear a skin mask, watch my favorite movie, or indulge in my favorite dessert or snack.  Sometimes the simplest of things bring about the most joy.  And this rings so true in the self care department.

Lastly is the hardest one for me to complete and yet it's always the one that's most needed.  EXERCISE!  Remember how I suffered from seasonal depression a few years ago?  Well, the thing that got me through was exercise.  It always sounds more simple and easy than it really is.  But I didn't just buy a gym pass and drag myself to the treadmill everyday. No.  I enrolled in a class that I knew I would love and WANT to go to and sure enough I went.  I went three times a week for 2 months.  I pushed through the burn and the soreness and went back again and again.  Why?  Because those endorphins my brain was pumping was necessity and I could feel it after the first time I went.  I understand that not everyone can afford this type of thing so instead I say this.  Find a friend and go together.  You can walk around the mall or swim at the rec center near you.  While you workout, spill your hearts to one another.  Release the feelings of sadness and solitude you're experiencing and work together to feel uplifted.

Ok one more.  I always call upon my Heavenly Father for support.  It's not easy carrying around the burden of depression.  But I'm grateful I have the knowledge that my Father in Heaven knows my struggles.  He carries me when I can not carry myself.  Christ experienced all our trials, afflictions and pain so that we wouldn't feel alone in those times of need.  Pray for comfort, for support, and for guidance.

I hope this time of year, especially if you that struggle like I do, you won't feel alone.  I hope you know that this time of year is hard for a lot of us.  Don't be afraid to reach out for help or express what you feel to those you can confide in and love.  And please please please, if you need help you need to ask.  Don't be ashamed of your trial.  It's a trial many of us experience, and many of us are here for care and support.

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