Emerging from a particularly intense seasonal depression can come with a lot of mixed feelings that sometimes can sabotage the newfound happiness. Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a category of depression that emerges in specific seasons of the year. Most people notice SAD symptoms starting in the fall and increasing during the winter months, but a few people experience a spring/summer version.
This Winter was a dumpster fire for me emotionally. I was a perpetual Eeyore with only cameo appearances of joy. SAD was a raggedy bitch who couldn't catch a hint. I didn't invite her to nary a party but guess who's there being narcissistic and showy, stealing all the shine? Yup, that bitch. Then one day you wake up feeling particularly great. It hits 12pm and you still don't feel shitty. At 8pm you have the nerve to declare it's a good day. Wash, rinse, repeat, it's a whole week. You are emerging from seasonal depression, PRAISE SANTA! Now what?
This time can be a little tricky, and the following are some tips from my past personal experiences. They help me keep the momentum, harness all that positive energy, and avoid the pitfalls of going back to a bad place.
- Don't try to get everything back together all at once. You may feel like you can conquer the world because for the last 3 months you were at your lowest. If you were crying your eyes out yesterday, you might want to start by just conquering your backyard for now. Don't allow those grandiose feelings to overwhelm you and end in disappointment. You'll get there.
- Make a plan and write it down. Use the newfound energy to lay the groundwork for success. Use this time to figure out how you can combat another wave of depression that may try to rear its ugly head. In Girl Scouts they told us, "Be prepared." Lawd, they ain't never lied on that one. My depression definitely didn't take the country out of me. This is a time to be very specific to your therapist and/or support system/village about your goals.
- Don’t fall into the trap of looking back and chiding yourself for what you feel was wasted time. Don’t sully this happiness with the shoulda, coulda, woulda dance. Create a new two-step. Celebrate the fact that you got your shit together. This will be worth a lot more than you probably want to give yourself credit for. Take pride in the fact that you are more than enough and worthy of happiness.
- Enjoy it. Yup, that’s it. Simple, I know, but even though you do need to plan and put structure into place, you still must live in the moment a bit. Soak in that sunshine and give yourself permission to be happy.
I most certainly don’t have all the answers, and this won’t guarantee that next Winter will be perfect, but I’ll definitely be better equipped to traverse the path ahead. I am going to enjoy what Spring has sprung and hold on to it with all my might. I wish the same for you.
Alise Leslie is a poet, author, blogger, spoken-word artist, and mental health advocate currently residing in Durham, NC. She writes at the blog, “In My Mental Mind: a black girl’s mental health journey," focusing on mental health issues, particularly for women and men of color, through essays, personal stories, poetry, and music. Alise's fiction writing has been featured on The Root. Her lipstick game is most likely better than yours.
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