When SAD Isn’t Just the Winter Blues

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I love spring. I hate spring. I have a lot of feelings during spring.

Last night I took a walk with my skin free to the air for the first time since November. It’s like breathing again. Sometimes it feels like I’m drowning in it. I want to run. I want to disappear. I cry. I drink. I get tattoos. I shave my head.

Spring is really, really hard for me. I feel uncomfortable in my body and bored with my surroundings. Spring is when I get tattoos or shave my head or break up or make rash decisions. It’s almost a manic feeling, but tinged with a deep, deep melancholy. I guess that’s what happens when you’re an autistic who has a strong pull towards spontaneity but also goes into a panicked shock when a plan changes.

You might be surprised to hear that these symptoms reasonably could fall under the label of Seasonal Affective Disorder. From Mayo Clinic: “Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that’s related to changes in seasons — SAD begins and ends at about the same times every year.”

Most people experience heightened symptoms of depression in the winter, and that is the most common type of SAD (low mood, low energy, nasty depression during the fall and winter months). However there are some folks who experience consistent low mood at other times of the year. I personally get SAD in the winter, and then this weird, nostalgic, anxious, mess of dissatisfaction during spring. Winter is a time of hibernation, when I can barely bring myself to move. Spring is the time when I have energy and I want to use that energy to do bad things to myself.

It can be so frustrating to have these patterns of emotion without recognition (from yourself or others) that it could be a perfectly natural seasonal issue, and that you can use the same skills and techniques that others use to deal with them. If you regularly feel depressed in the winter, most people can identify it as seasonal. Other times? Not so much.

Especially when it comes to spring and summer it can seem like everyone else is excited and loving the season, while you’re stuck somewhere else, isolated.

So today’s post (short though it is, I need to ease back into this blogging thing) is a reminder that SAD can be at any time of the year. Different people are affected differently. Your history can affect it (dates like the death of a loved one can be particularly difficult), or our current life (I always have a major conference at the end of April that leaves me drained and struggling).

No matter how your depression manifests, it can be helpful to look for patterns and start to put coping mechanisms in place preemptively. If you know summer is bad, plan your self care more actively leading into summer. If you know winter is bad, communicate with others and ask them to help you get out and about.

As I’m trying to pick back up after a very busy April, I’m trying to remember that spring is hard for me, and this spring is feeling particularly hard for me. But summer will be here soon, and the forwards looking nostalgia will dissipate, and I will someday feel functional again. That is the nice part of seasonal affective disorders: it will end. It will get easier. You can get through it

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