Monday, November 16, 2009

Coping with a Seasonal Mood Swing

The fact is that despite everything I do to overcome these seasonal mood swings, I'm not able to eliminate them--at least not now. That's not to say that I feel bad. I don't. I do have a low-grade depression, but the Adderall enables me to live with it.

The problem is that I'm just don't feel as well at this time of year as I do during my best months --which currently are April through September. But, I've decided this doesn't need to be a huge problem. I'll list the symptoms--as I see them--and the solutions.

1. I don't feel like writing my blog five days a week (until I have more energy). So...I've decided (for the time being) to only post on Mondays until I feel like posting more often.

2. For the most part, I don't feel like reading other blogs (for now), and commenting. I'll trust that my online friends will understand this, and realize that as soon as things change, I'll be there to support them.

3. I don't feel like socializing as much as usual. I've decided this is no longer the problem I once thought it was. I know plenty of people who are so busy that they rarely see their friends. I know others who are so self-absorbed that they rarely put themselves out for people. So...independent of the causal factors of my own situation, I've decided I no longer have to explain myself if I need more "alone time."

4. I don't feel like exercising as much as I usually do, except I know how important exercise is in reducing the symptoms of depression. So...I have vowed to continue walking the dog at least once a day, and to try to walk him twice because of the importance of exercise. If I need motivation, I have a few friends in the neighborhood with whom I can walk.

5. It difficult to motivate myself to do things I don't truly enjoy. I've decided that's okay. There are very few things I need to do that I don't enjoy.

6. The good news is that when I feel like this, I enjoy working on personal writing projects, and I have a few really good ideas that I plan on pursuing.

7. After a few months where I didn't feel like shooting photographs, my interest in photography is renewed, and this is a good hobby for me to pursue on my own.

8. Since I have problems with Thanksgiving and Christmas when I feel this way, I've come up with some new ways of celebrating the holidays that should make a huge difference. This year, my husband, son, and I are going to have Thanksgiving at a wonderful restaurant, and we're all looking forward to it. I'll write about our Christmas plans sometime soon.

9. My gardening projects still interest me, and that's a real relief. Next Saturday, I'm going to help my friend do the landscaping job at her daughter's elementary school. And I'm still working on a front yard and backyard project at my house.

10. Most of all, I'm going to accept the way I feel without judging myself. It's the way things are whether I would choose to be this way or not. I don't have to apologize. I don't have to feel bad. I can see all this as a "quirky personality trait" rather than a disability of sorts.


Writing Works said...

It is what it is. We feel how we feel. To put the pressure on ourselves to feel and be a certain way all the time only adds to our frustration and ultimately our demise. I believe you are taking the right approach to this low time and I am proud of you!!

My prayers are with you.

Wendy Love said...

You have made a lot of really good observatins Susan and I may have to steal some of your ideas. Acceptance is a big part of what I hear you saying. Accepting that this time of the year is not as good but it doesn't necessarily have to be down and out depression. I continue to have to accept myself in the condition I am in. I have had to let go of a lot of old images I had of myself, and my capabilites. I can no longer be that friend who is always there in a pinch. I have had to pull back in a lot of areas. But hey, I am not God and he seems to be managing the world quite well without my help. My job is to manage me, not the rest of the world. I too find special occasions hard - probably because of our own ridiculous expectations.
Blogging once a week is plenty. Glad you are still enjoying your gardening!

Wellness Writer said...

Dear Writing Works,
You're wise beyond your years! And, you're sure right about expectations. It feels bad enough to have low energy, but to be self-critical about it just doesn't make sense. I don't know why it took me so long to figure this out.

As always, thanks for your support and your prayers.


Wellness Writer said...

Dear Wendy,
I'm really glad if anything I've written will help you as well.

Acceptance is a big part of what I've written about. I've decided the issue isn't as much about how I feel; it's about how I deal with how I feel.

When I have a ton of energy, I don't hear people saying, "Wow. It's truly amazing how much you accomplish."

And, yet I know I accomplish way more than most people.

So, when I have low energy, perhaps others don't really say to themselves, "Wow. You really don't have very much energy, do you?"

And, the more I think about it, I don't see a problem with diminished expectations if I don't view it as a negative.

I appreciate your comment because it's helped me truly understand how differently I'm approaching this time of year!


Callista said...

I haven't wanted to update any of my blogs lately nor read other blogs and comment (except today of course). It's like I'm in a blogging rut.

marja said...

Hey, Susan, certainly you don't need to feel bad. I think you often push yourself more than you need to. You expect so much of yourself. Just relax for now and do what you want to do. Do the stuff that makes you feel good.

I haven't been reading others' blogs very faithfully either, only sporadically now-a-days. Maybe I should feel guilty. I don't know. But I don't feel guilt too much. Can't do everything.

I've been struggling with depression as well, but am coping quite well, presently feeling quite level. But I have to be careful and do the kinds of things you're doing. Go easy on myself. Go with what flows easily.

Wellness Writer said...

Dear Callista,
Actually, I'm not in a rut. I just need some time off to pursue other interests. But, thanks for your comment!


Wellness Writer said...

Dear Marja,
Thanks for the good advice. It's the same advice I gave myself (smiling face).

And, I am pursuing my other interests. On Monday, my friends and I went to a local nursery to buy plants for upgrading the elementary school, which we're going to implement on Saturday. It was great fun, and tomorrow I'm building some wooden grids for the garden boxes for kindergartners.

It's all quite fun, and it's sure making me feel good! Glad to hear your depression is under control as well!


Danielle said...

I know exactly how you feel. I counter act it all by surrounding myself with all the things I am passionate about...and making plans on the next steps I want to take with them all ;).....because as you well know motivation is a factor during these times. Thinking of you and not to worry about visiting.....I will visit you and keep up ;)

Wellness Writer said...

Dear Danielle,
So glad to hear from you, and thanks for letting me know how you handle it. You always seem to confirm that you do what I do--which makes me feel good. And, I will drop by your blog soon!


Immi said...

Excellent ideas. #10 gives me a fit to the point I often can't remember it at all, but when I get it, life improves a great deal. Thanks for the reminder!

Wellness Writer said...

Dear Immi,
Glad to hear from you. Yes, it's certainly easier said than done. But, this year I truly believe it, so it does make a difference.


havisham said...

Hi, Susan,

I'm not sure why this keeps happening. I comment on something, and then lose it to cyberspace. I'm betting it's more operator error than tech glitches though (:

What I see here is that you're doing some good, healthy boundary setting. I'm working on this myself. If something (or someone) overwhelms or annoys or if I simply feel the need to withdraw somewhat, then why not?

I have agoraphobia that waxes and wanes, and used to feel obligated to "do social," even when it made my skin crawl. Now, if I'm having a hard time of it, I allow myself to stay home. I congratulate myself on having a work-from-home job. (I used to think I didn't deserve it; now I remind myself that I've earned this!) It's not as though I never leave the house. I walk to my therapist's office (it's only around the corner, but for me this is tremendous progress). So I'm feeling pretty positive about it all, and I'm not going to put myself into uncomfortable situations if I can help it. And, perhaps most important: I'm not going to feel bad about not being "normal."

You're inspiring me to get into photography. As a kid, I bombarded my parents with requests till they finally gave in and bought me a little camera. It went everywhere with me. For some reason, I lost interest along the way. No idea why. But a while back a writer friend mentioned that he thought it would be cool for me to take photos of places I refer to in my memoir. (I moved back "home" recently, and it's amazingly conducive to the writing since much of it's set in or near my hometown.) Looks like it's time to get a new camera. I want one like that cute Ashton Kutcher guy advertises. Jeez. I think I'm old enough to be his mother. Oh, wait. He digs older women. (One apology I WILL make--to Demi, lol.)

So, I'm blabbing once again. And crossing my fingers that I don't lose this comment.

Quirky can be good. I love quirky. And I love your acceptance. No apologies for who we are and how we feel. That sounds good!

Looking forward to your Monday posts.


Wellness Writer said...

Dear Sooz,
Thanks so much for your comment. It really made me smile. I guess we both have come to the point where we are just accepting ourselves as we are--without feeling bad about our limitations.

I think that photography is a great hobby. I just began to pursue it a few years ago, but I love it. And, I love your comment about Ashton Kutcher. How funny is that!