Similarly to diagnosed depression or anxiety, if you have not experienced it yourself, the chances are you will be skeptical that this condition truly exists.
I have heard no end of people who suggest that people who suffer with depression just need to “cheer up” and those with anxiety should just “chill out”, but encase you’ve ever used these phrases towards somebody who’s suffering with an ongoing invisible illness, I will clarify for you right now that although they may have turned the corners of their mouth up at you, or possibly just ignored you and continued with their day, their internal monologue absolutely, definitely, 100% called you a dick.
If you are of the opinion that SAD is a debilitating illness which has grave effects on its victims, then you may appreciate this article from the Journal of Pioneering Medical Sciences which outlines precisely how difficult it can be for a sufferer to cope with the effects of the changing seasons. There are a number of common misconceptions regarding the effects, treatment and even existence of this disorder, which this article has tried to put to rest.
In an opposing article, written earlier this year, the Telegraph has published statements from clinical research conducted by Professor of Psychology, Dr Stephen LoBello. His research deems the connection between depression and the seasons a mere “notion” – You can read that one here.
I have come to the conclusion, based on the numerous information sources I’ve looked at on the subject, that if SAD does exist, I do not have it. If I do, it’s a very mild case. But I do know one thing. The weather truly governs me, and due to: A) My previous lack of knowledge of the illness, and B) My mild hypochondria, I grew up thinking I must have been a sufferer of this disorder.
Throughout my teens and into my early 20’s, November to February got me down. Growing up in Wales, land of the soggy scenery, these months were always pretty dull and my mood usually matched.
As a teenager, I had a SAD lamp. Yeah. That’s a thing. Its purpose was to replicate a natural sunrise by connecting a soft light to an alarm clock, filling the room with a gradual light before the alarm sounds. Some of them even fade in with soothing natural wildlife sounds too. I won’t pretend it made waking up easy throughout a cold January, but it probably improved the lives of my family, friends and colleagues on a cold winter’s morning.
When I left home, I committed myself to three straight years of summer. I haven’t seen a winter since early 2013 and that suits me just fine. But now I find myself in a situation where I have no choice but to watch the tan fade away and drizzle fill the days. It’s winter in New Zealand, and I can’t leave until I’ve seen it through. I have been naturally nervous of how this is going to go.
But in the build up to the dull and dreary winter time here, I learned something unexpected about myself…
I LOVE gloomy days!!
There’s a mood, an atmosphere that only low grey clouds can create, a tension in the air that you don’t feel with the light and airy high blue sky. It’s exciting and heavy. The clouds roll across the sky and there’s life up there!
I also still love sunshine. A good excuse to read a book, swim in the sea, make an effort to look good. Just feels good. Carefree. Warm.
It’s just anything in between that gets me down. I don’t like half-arsed weather.
Everything above this point was written in March. I never really got around to finding the words to end this little speech, so I didn’t post it. Which has given me a perfect opportunity for a “Then and Now” attitude comparison.
The weather this winter: Cold, wet, dull, dreary, unpredictable.
My mood: Cold, wet, dull, dreary, unpredictable…
Make of that what you will.
But an observation, based on some reflection – before I left Australia, I was in a bad place emotionally. I was in a difficult location, surrounded by unsupportive people and I was miserable as all hell. The weather? The weather was damn near perfect day in, day out.
I can’t shed much light on whether SAD is “real” or not, but what I have learnt…
New Zealand is not for me.
Onwards… To chase the sun!