Current Chicago temperature: 1 degree with a windchill of -15 degrees. Welcome to winter and SAD (seasonal affective disorder).
Between the months of January and March, I fall into a rut like most depressed people do, in general. Unbalanced and groggy, I go through the days in a total fog and often find myself beating myself up for not wanting to get off the couch. My Fitbit, a recent Christmas gift, also taunts me as I look at the number of steps I could have taken or miles I could have run despite the winter chill. Dark skies at 6 AM make me want to throw the blankets over my head and hibernate through the rest of the winter months. This is obviously unrealistic since I have a full-time job, yoga teacher training, and posts to write for my blog, not to mention keeping energy levels up to maintain friendships which sometimes feels like another “to do” on my list (there, I said it).
I have also upped the dosage on my Prozac from 20 mg to 40 mg per a rather lengthy discussion with my psychiatrist. I initially started on 40 mg for my depression/anxiety/OCD and decided to drop to 20 mg/day because I was “feeling better”. After 3 months on 20 mg a day, I felt the warning signs of spiraling back into a depressive state of mind. So I went back to my psychiatrist, explaining the situation and honestly stating that I had decided to cut my medication in half because I thought I was feeling good. Of course, he smiled and said, “A good percentage of people prescribed antidepressants decide to either lower their dosage or stop taking the pills. It’s common.” I felt a little better knowing I wasn’t the only one with this mindset.
He continued on, “And how do you feel now?”
“Like I’m relapsing.”
“So what do you think we should do about it?”
“I should probably go back to 40 mg a day.”
And there you have it. I’m back on my prescribed dosage and am feeling a difference in productivity levels. Still, SAD is real, the winter blues are a struggle, and I still have days where I refuse to leave the comforts of my home. What I’ve come to learn is that it’s entirely acceptable to rest your bones if you’re feeling exhausted.
As a person with depression, it’s so important to take care of your mind and body. Don’t be hard on yourself. Allow time to recharge, regroup. If your bed is beckoning for you to stay in it, do it. If your eyes feel heavy, sleep. If your head is hazy, clear it by taking a day for yourself. Don’t judge yourself harshly because you spent your Sunday in your pajamas watching the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy.
I am discovering that in order to function, we need to shut off the rest of the world, embrace SAD, and hop back into our routine when we’re ready. Some may say you’re lazy; I say you’re smart and saving yourself from a burnout or meltdown. Be gentle and kind to your soul and in turn, it will repay you by carrying your weight further than you imagined. Unplug, unwind, enjoy a day of gray skies and be grateful for this time when this world is constantly moving at warp speed.
Happy Monday, gems!