SAD Kick Off: What is it?

Welcome to my SAD Month Party, AKA my Seasonal Affective Disorder Month Party. As the name implies, SAD is not a celebratory occasion but I want us to acknowledge, accept, and salute the fact that things are about to get real craptacular this winter before they actually do!

This October, I will be sharing some key strategies that I personally use to prepare for the colder and darker season.

You know, when the depression and anxiety that intensifies when 6PM looks a whole lot like 6AM, and the streets are covered in black-brown slush and white snow. I mean, sometimes the slush has a yellow hue, and then I wonder why. But moving on now…

If you feel the winter blues every once in awhile, you can call it a “bad day”. But you might have a case of SAD if it begins to linger and interfere with your life. Rest assured, there is nothing wrong with that. SAD is not a death sentence. It’s just another thing that happens and you have the power to slow it down when it spins out of control. However, we could all use a gentle reminder that IT IS OKAY for things to be crappy so we’re going to spend the whole month of October talking about it. The monster can be less scary when you know what it looks like and how to deal with it. At least that’s what my husband tells me when I’m totally reluctant to watch scary movies with him (and oh my goodness, don’t remind me of Lights Out).

Here are some red flags to look out for this winter if you, or someone you know, is having trouble leaving the house or withdrawing from you and your family/friends.

For women, typical symptoms of depression and anxiety are:
–       Tearing up/crying without a reason or more frequently than normal
–       An increasing disinterest in normal activities such as seeing friends and family, exercising, or whatever else you enjoy doing
–       Withdrawing from others, like being absent and not returning messages or phone calls as you normally would (because we all have those friends that are just terrible at texting back)
–       A decrease in your excitability with a general “Eeyore Doom and Gloom” – nothing that normally would cheer you up is working, like Netflix and chilling
–       Worrying, stressing and becoming super irritable – an increase of people, behaviours, and activities that drive you bat shit crazy and you can’t let it go

Take note that I’ve stressed the word normal a lot because you know yourself best and what normal is to you. That being said, if you are regularly teary eyed, worried about most things, and withdrawn from others, if might be worth it to see your family doctor to discuss these behaviours.

Men are so frequently under diagnosed with mental illnesses because we’re looking for signs and symptoms based on what social media has defined depression and anxiety as – you know, the crying and worrying bit.

But that’s not the case with the majority of men. At times, they really are different species just in the way that they have been traditionally raised and socialized. Enter nature vs. nurture argument blah blah blah.

For men, typical symptoms of anxiety and depression are:
–       Withdrawal – Your homeboy doesn’t come hang out at the bar anymore, watch sports together, or attend LAN parties. He might make up excuses for why he has to stay at home or at work later. And you know it’s an excuse when he has said that the last 5 times you’ve invited him out.
–       Binge eating or drinking (a lot) alone frequently – This is the man that drinks much more beyond social events. Like I mean, you start figuring out that he drinks alone and it’s not just a beer or whiskey on the rocks. It’s more like taking a few shots “for fun”. For example, when I was younger and my dad was super depressed and no one noticed because he was just a man enjoying his alcohol. But wiping out half a bottle of XO in one night is not healthy by any means but it was his way of numbing the pain. The same applies to binge eating, especially if they’re starting to gain a few noticeable pounds that isn’t just winter weight to keep you warm. He is not a bear in hibernation.
–       Anger, irritability, and/or silence – You start noticing they’re snappy OR more quiet and less interactive in social settings. Something’s going on, SAD or not, if this behaviour persists even though he might just tell you he’s having a “bad day”.
–       And again, just a general disinterest in life. When a man has been told to “man up” or “grow some balls” all their life, you’ll rarely see them feeling blue and dragging their heels outside of their home. But YOU know. That’s right. If you think this is you, you know exactly what gloom feels like at home. And maybe this is angering you right now, but “manning up” isn’t helping yourself. We care about you, and we just want you to get help even if you have to keep it silent and to yourself. It’s okay. Just help yourself first because we want you to happy and present!

Spread the awareness by sending it around if you know someone who can benefit from this, or is simply interested in learning more about mental health and SAD. If you’ve been experiencing SAD every winter and know all about it, stay tuned for my blog post next Friday. I’ll be sharing my dirty little secrets on how I cope with the depression and anxiety all winter long. See you next week!

xoxo,
Joanne

Disclaimer: if you’re wondering where all this information is sourced from, well, it’s from my noggin upstairs. I’ve got a black belt in mental health experiences and a few years in undergrad with a bachelor of science. Take it for what it is but I haven’t sourced anything in all my blog posts unless I’ve actually used it from somewhere in the interwebs, books, or quotes from others. Any information on my blog posts has come from the bottom of my heart, the depths of my brain, and has no intention to harm or hurt anyone. Just a cause to educate, support and inform others. Sharing is caring and I love to give credit where it’s due. Plus, we legitimately had a course in university (or college is you’re from the US of A) to hammer in APA formatting and how not to plagiarize. Just a FYI.

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