Where have I been all week? I blogged a bit on Tuesday, but otherwise, I’ve been hiding from my blog, from Google+, Facebook and I’ve hardly even joined in on Twitter or Instagram (my social media addictions)! For the first time in years, I am suffering from a very definite case of SAD, or Seasonal Affective Disorder. I am, quite literally, feeling too sad to function normally.
Over the weekend, I had a great time with my family, enjoying the local food festival, eating and drinking and having fun. But as this ended, the realisation that autumn was well and truly here was cemented. The festival was started to extend the tourist season in this little seaside town, but once the season is over, what does that mean?
On Monday, even though the weather was still fantastic, it was the first day I really noticed I was feeling down. The training at work was hard as I was in pain from my RSI and was still feeling like the new girl in the group as they shared jokes and were comfortable with getting physically close to one another as the training demanded. Then at a playdate later, this feeling of not fitting in just intensified. Here I was trying to be friends with people, mums that I like in passing at the school gate, but really, was I the sort of person they want to be friends with? Do they even need more friends? When they all left and we had the softplay to ourselves, I felt a huge sense of relief. The girls could play, and I could breathe for a moment.
As the week has continued, the introspection has deepened, and I have struggled with insomnia and then not wanted to wake up in the morning. When I have slept, my dreams have been filled with nightmarish images – the worst being unable to stop Bear drowning, which has fed my paranoia that I might lose her suddenly. My confidence is dipping, I don’t believe in my ability to do even the most simple things and I’ve suddenly become a really nervous driver. I have no energy and would prefer not to leave the house. I’m comfort eating for Britain and can’t concentrate.
Yet, I know this is all symptomatic of an illness that has struck so regularly in October, I don’t need a calendar. Although, bizarrely, not so much over the last few years. The official line is that the lack of sunlight affects our serotonin levels, causing them to dip below normal and thereby affecting our mood. Light therapy is said to be very successful at treating it, but it’s not something I’ve ever tried.
There’s much that makes sense in this, but I also think it’s about claustrophobia, lack of fresh air and exercise, eating too many (simple) carbohydrates, and the weather getting colder. I just cannot bear the cold, the wet, the dark. Over the summer, as long as the sun was shining, I was out doing something. In the end, it shone so much this year, I was completely exhausted, but I needed to get my ‘fix’. And now it’s gone, I’ve crashed. Massively.
I keep trying to push myself to get excited about something – my first official blog Christmas, Bear’s first real Christmas – but I just can’t. It all just seems so… hopeless. I wanted to do something fun at half term, but while I’m feeling like this I can’t plan and can’t explore anything that might be happening. I need something to jolt me out of this stupor, something to be excited about and really look forward to, but I have to be proactive in making that happen. So the vicious circle continues.
Of course, now I’m a mum, I have to work hard to push against the feeling of doom, the feelings of self-loathing, the sadness. While my answer in previous difficult times may have been to push self-destruct, I now know that this will not help make it better. It may force the issue, but it won’t change things. To do that I have to work on my thinking. Remind myself that this is temporary. Push myself to get out, go for walks, enjoy the children, view life through their eyes. And actively seek out some things to look forward to.
But if my posts don’t seem as upbeat as usual, if I’m not quite as chatty on Twitter it’s not because I’m not interested or not reading. It’s just that I might be struggling to find the right words to use that won’t bring the whole world down here with me, or don’t believe right at that moment that what I say matters. This isn’t a request for some pity, it’s just an explanation of how my head is lost in a fog as I adjust to the end of summer. It will pass, and I ask for your patience while I drive through it, headlights dipped to avoid the glare.
I debated long and hard about writing this post, but having read some moving and inspiring posts yesterday as part of World Mental Health Day, I felt it was only right to put this out there. I am not ashamed as such, but it is also a side of me that I don’t like to talk about. But only by talking about this will the stigma be removed. It’s Time to Change, so I’m sharing this side of me for the world to see.