Winter Mental Health Check-In with Kristine

February 18, 2022 4 min read 1 Comment

Kristine Deer

Four weeks ago, I stood in front of the mirror and didn’t recognize the person staring back at me. She was dull, vacant and sad, a fraction of the person that stood in front of that same mirror only months ago. It’s as though the light switch got flipped and the light inside went out. 

Winter has had that effect on me since I can remember. I never got diagnosed then but when I went to school at Syracuse University in central NY, the lake effect pounded The Hill with snow, winds and temperatures took no mercy on its inhabitants. Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD, is aptly named. And as November rolls around, this frustrating disorder begins to creep back into my system, triggering the dimmer to lower the light until eventually, it goes out.

I’m upset with myself because I know it’s coming but this year I didn’t have a plan in place to combat the fight at the light switch, if you know what I mean. In the past, I’ve planned a trip somewhere warm and sunny, to get a reprieve from the cold, dark days. And although it’s a temporary fix, it has historically given me the boost I need to get through the rest of the winter. There are plenty of things that can be done to lighten the load of SAD but the momentum was building and I soon lost control of the ship.

December started off amazing and then as the holidays came closer, things started getting harder. By the end of January I had a very dark night of the soul that led me to a lot of awareness, personally and professionally. I had already put the wheels in motion the week before, but I was looking forward to an appointment with a new therapist the next week. I was doing my best to eat clean, lowering my intake of sugar and carbs. No alcohol, no cannabis, no crutches to avoid feeling all my feelings so that I could properly process what was coming up. Having major depressive disorder makes the experience of SAD that much more challenging.

I also think it’s worth noting, I had COVID-19 during this dark moment in January. I was outwardly asymptomatic, isolated at home by myself, mentally battling, full of shame and disappointment, searching for the light switch. I wrote a lot, I talked with my best friends and family, listened to my favorite music/audio books and let myself feel a lot of grief and frustration with myself that I was hiding.  I was gifted a Lego set that I would like to credit with helping me feel accomplished, avoiding thoughts of hopelessness and overall made me feel peaceful in a lot of inner turmoil. Over the course of the next two weeks, I began to see the light again. I took my depression medications regularly (which I usually do, but it’s worth noting), went for walks, did laundry, cleaned my house, cut my hair and put on mascara for the first time in 3 weeks (a sign of hope for me).

Bonsai Tree Lego Set  

I had moments at home by myself where I felt grateful for the tools I knew to reach for when things get hard. I work at my mental health - I need to in order to survive. I’ve collected tools that support me and notice when I need to create boundaries with habits that do not support my mental health and growth. You can’t wait for the dark moments to figure out what your tools are, you need to find them and train yourself while you are in the light, so you know to reach for them when the dimmer goes down. 

SAD is a type of depression that can last 4-5 months of the year, when the days are short and cold. According to NIMH, “Millions of American adults may suffer from SAD, although many may not know they have the condition. SAD occurs much more often in women than in men, and it is more common in those living farther north, where there are shorter daylight hours in the winter.”

“SAD is more common in people with major depressive disorder or bipolar disorder, especially bipolar II disorder. Additionally, people with SAD tend to have other mental disorders, such as attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, an eating disorder, an anxiety disorder, or panic disorder.”

To learn more from the National Institute of Mental Health, visit:https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/seasonal-affective-disorder

Also a great resource for mental and substance use disorders:

https://www.samhsa.gov/find-help/national-helpline

Thank you for taking the time to read this. If any of my last 2 months resonated with you, I hope you understand that means you are not alone. Our symptoms and situations may be different but the common denominator is that we have to work a little extra hard at times to keep our minds at peace. Babe, I feel you, and I am so sorry you are going through it too.

 

A few reminders when I’m in a dark place:

Give yourself permission to REST.

Discomfort is the divine messenger that something needs to change.

Be curious, be patient and be kind to yourself.

Connect to what you are grateful for and source your strength from what has brought you to this very moment, the good and the challenging.

Have faith that everything is happening for you, for your greatest good. 

With love,

Kristine

hello@k-deer.com


1 Response

Angie
Angie

April 18, 2022

I feel your pain I deal with this every year for as long as I can remember. Thankfully spring is here in Oklahoma. I took up roller skating in December even on days it was cold. It did so much for mental health. I discovered k-deer. They also brought a smile. I feel happy every time i put on k deer to skate. Much love and hugs to you. Thank you for all you have done. I was so very sad to read your announcement. Again hugs and so much love to you and yours.😘❤️💚💙💜🧡💛🤍🤎

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