Seeing Through the Fog: Seasonal Affective Disorder

Photo by: Matthew Henry

Halloween is one of those things that I’ve pretended to like because everyone else does. It excels as a reason to go out in clothes that defy the weather and your better judgment. But beyond that, the holiday is objectively terrible. It’s cold, for one. The sun is out, but you’re not getting anything from it. You might catch a few rays at lunch, but certainly not enough to download sufficient vitamins, or whatever.  And by the time you head home, there’s not a trace of light left.

Second of all, dressing up for Halloween evokes social anxiety that one hopes to leave behind in middle school. You walk across the office in your subtle-but-existent costume and your eyes can’t find any others. Somehow, everyone who dressed up experiences the same thing. It’s the Santa’s Sleigh Ride of Halloween. Meaning that it makes no sense but no one questions.

Lastly, I want to turn back to the Sun–now’s as good a time as any for an astro-tidbit. The Sun rules the sign of Leo, so I reject the season of winter out of principle. Warmth and light become scarce, leaving room for something else to stake a claim. The cold, and darkness, naturally, because I know my way around a thesaurus. And something else: a vast fog that overwrites a sense of joy you didn’t realize was seasonal.

Let’s Talk About S.A.D.

Seasonal Affective Disorder affects one in five Americans over the age of 20, and everyone you follow on Twitter. But unlike paranormal football seasons, the winter blues don’t forge a sense of community out of collective pride and shock. It drives people apart instead. Much like that frantic walk across the office, we feel alone in times we shouldn’t be.

But it’s important to remember that we’re not. 1 in 6 of us carry the same burden and shame, and the rest simply carry different ones. Still we do everything we can to hide them and to stifle their significance. But that only tightens the grip. The vulnerability that you’re desperately trying to keep behind the curtain has simply given you a new script to follow. Instead of succumbing to a perceived weakness, you put on a mask and perform strength.

And the result is only more draining.

My unsolicited advice for this cold Hallow’s eve, and the rest to follow it, is to stop wasting your strength behind a mask. Find the strength to be yourself instead. Grant yourself the kindness of acknowledging your susceptibilities without letting them define you. Remind yourself that you’re not alone. You have friends in the same fog, though it obscures your view. That just means you’ll have to use your voice to find them.

So, please do. Speak up, reach out, talk about anything but your feelings—just talk. Your friend wants to hear from you, and whoever you’re afraid to bother won’t be bothered. Staying quiet takes more of a toll than…not.

I seem to have forgotten how opposites work. But consider the fact that there’s no single canonical action that fits there. Speaking up could mean texting a friend, calling your mom, or silently chuckling over your own Twitter. The point is, take a breath. Stop performing for other people. Do something for yourself.

Good luck this winter to my fellow Leos, Lions, astro-lovers, and the rest. Much like our time on this earth, SADness is only temporary.

Well, that went dark. What can I say? Once an angsty teen, always an angsty teen.

And once an RA, always an RA.